This blog was created as part of the Erasmus Mundus Crossways in Cultural Narratives Masters programme, which is the only one of the EU approved and funded Erasmus Mundus Masters programmes to specialise in traditional humanities with a modern languages background. The Crossways Consortium comprises 6 top-class European universities.

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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Human[i]ties Perspective 2011

 by Alex Bunten, EM Euroculture alumnus

On the memorable date of 11.11.11, Human[i]ties Perspective 2011: Impacts of Communication and Global Mobility successfully kicked-off at the University of Hamburg, Germany. 

This year’s event explored four themed sessions on ‘Cultures & Identities’, ‘Communication & Democracy’, ‘Crisis, Risk & Environmental Communication’ and one session focused on the job market. The majority of the 50 participants came from four targeted EM programs - MA Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, MA Journalism & Media within Globalization; MA Euroculture; and MA Crossways in European Humanities – however, the event also attracted students and professionals from wider spheres. Throughout the two days, leading professors, young academics and professionals from fields in communication, media, journalism, cultural studies engaged in stimulating discussion about their research entwined with their personal experiences and fieldwork. 

 Prof. Dr. Michel Clement opened up the event by presenting his recent research on “The Advertising Role of Professional Critics in the Book Industry”, followed by Dr. Kathrin Voss on ‘Communication and Democracy’ with junior speakers contributing to the theme of civic participation. Sara Nofri headed the ‘Cultures & Identities’ session by delving into the issue of cultural differences in the coverage of environmental issues in newspapers. Her talk was complimented by junior speakers who elaborated on the idea of multiculturalism in the UK, cultural clash, and identity. 

The second day began with a series of “Career Talks” from professionals in the field, illustrating the various paths possible from a Humanities degree. Journalism, publishing, and social media were the most popular topics, but the talk about academia by Dr. Roberto Suarez, “Planning an Academic career: managing uncertainty”, touched on a important point for anyone working or studying in the Humanities: “What we are doing is very important, but nobody thinks so. We are underestimated by most of the population. We have to sell our work. We must defend our work.” The last themed session looked into “Crisis, Risk & Environmental Communication” and was led by Shameen Mahmud’s talk on “Crisis & Risk Communication: Paradigms and the Paradoxes of Convergence and Divergence.” Junior speakers followed with presentations on China’s role in the Copenhagen Summit, media coverage of three wars in the Middle East, and sustainable city development. 

After a well-deserved coffee break, the conference came to a close with two panels. The first was a career panel of EMA alumni, exemplifying and discussing what career paths they have taken from their Humanities degree. And the second panel, “EMA Humanities Future Challenges,” tabled the idea that these events should provide the basis for an ‘EMA Humanities Professional Network’, to be developed in conjunction with annual Human[i]ties Perspectives. 

Participants enjoyed social events between the talks, which continued into the night after two days of fruitful discussions. Immersing in the German culture and the beautiful scenery that the City of Hamburg brought to them, all were content in spite of the chilling weather. 
With the words of Dr. Suarez in mind, Humanities Perspective 2011 successfully fought its corner for two days in Hamburg and because of this accomplishment, it already has plans for next year – Human[i]ties Perspective 2012 will be supported by the REALISE IT initiative and hosted by Roskilde University, Denmark. 

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