Welcome to the new students at RUC

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In English: A welcome greeting to all new students from Roskilde University’s rector, Hanne Leth Andersen.

Dear new students!

Credit: Uffe Weng

Roskilde University’s rector, Hanne Leth Andersen. Credit: Uffe Weng

Congratulations on starting a new chapter in your lives. Each of you has decided to embark on an academic education, and you have chosen to study at Roskilde University. RUC is a university that is characterised by problem-oriented project work in groups with group formation, problem definition, argumentation, feedback and cooperation. RUC is also a university that is characterized by its broad entrances and by innovative academic fields that have evolved through a willingness to engage with the world in a concrete and committed manner.

RUC is one of the few universities in the 21th century that focuses intensely on project work. Most of the universities that make use of this approach were founded in the prosperous economic period in the 1960-1970s in Europe and in the USA. However, the majority of these institutions were normalized prior to 2000. Today, Asia is experiencing a similar trend. These universities operate with the project work model and they encourage student directed approaches and creativity.

Remember that the others are also new, and that all of you have something unique to contribute.

In contrast, we in the West, in an atmosphere of crisis, are suppressing major components of our sense of originality and creativity through testing, control and performance management. A symptom of this crisis can be seen in the fact that the world-renowned journal, Nature, mentioned “the creativity crisis” in their July 2015 issue.

Support each other

50% of the work you will perform at RUC will be project work. It is a demanding way to work and we have chosen this model because you learn more and because the method is relevant in real life. Project work offers you a space to work in as students. Here, it is not just about taking notes and learning the notes before an exam. The project form of working requires students to immerse themselves and search out literature and to assess the literature, sources, theories, practices and various disciplinary approaches and attitudes. You also contribute to driving the process yourselves and sometimes you have to push each other or discuss expectations, effort, meeting times and responsibilities. The university provides the framework, but the responsibility when you are a student is your own.

I hope the sense of community here will be strong - both within the group and between groups - and that nobody will feel alone or left out. Remember that the others are also new, and that all of you have something unique to contribute. If you can manage to respect diversity, then you have already come far, both on a personal level and in practically any job. This respect is also fundamental to a democratic society.

Explore new relations

In addition to project supervision, the teaching in the courses will provide you with an insight into a wide range of knowledge across the fields of your program. However, it is not enough to listen to the lecturer. Be prepared, ask questions, discuss. Teaching is a meeting of minds. Demand your right to critical interaction.

Don’t think that what sounds most complex is also the most correct.

It is quite unique to receive the broad education that you will be provided with here during the first three semesters in your main subject. Our new Minister for Higher Education and Science has recently stated that he wants to ensure that students have a broader vision than that of their academic field of study. He is worried that the knowledge one is taught will be “separate, without the capability to combine with other things.” That is exactly what the first semesters at RUC are all about: seeing the subjects in relation to each other within the main area, identifying and testing how the different methods and approaches can be used, and what kinds of questions they can answer.

A good strategy at the start of the new term is to understand the structure of the education programme, read the study regulations and talk to your tutors, mentors, supervisors or counsellors about the education programme. If you can navigate around RUC, with the many options available, then you can reach an exceptionally high level. There are no limits when you work on projects.

Openness and honesty

Be demanding, but also be generous! Share your knowledge with your fellow students: the more you give, the more you receive. And communicate your message clearly: Don’t think that what sounds most complex is also the most correct. The academic world does not have to be opaque or unclear. Science is based on clarity of language and reasoning. So, use both your head and your heart, be open and honest, and enrich the community by contributing and by accepting the openness and honesty of others. That is good research. It is also good research-based education.

I wish for each and every one of you, that you derive pleasure and benefit from your daily life as students. Welcome to the critical, appreciative, disciplinary, and interdisciplinary community at Roskilde University!

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