Crossing Borders is a multinational project focused on Human Rights, Participation, Inclusion, Social Justice and Citizenship. The project addresses students in the fields of Social Work, Health and Care. It is one of the options in the project module of the Bachelor of Social Work program at the University of Applied Sciences in Mittweida (HSMW).
During and throughout the project, students from the participating countries cross borders by working together in mixed groups on preselected topics. The groups are organized according to topic and overseen by a professor from one of the participating countries. The project process is laid out in a clear syllabus where the working methods and steps are explained in detail. The common working language for Crossing Borders is English.
Crossing Borders was initiated in 2001/2002 by the faculties of Social Work/ Social Care of the University of Applied Sciences Inholland Hogeschool in Alkmaar/ Netherlands, University of Applied Sciences Mittweida/ Germany as well as the University of Applied Sciences Høgskolen på Vestlandet in Bergen/ Norway. Students from the University of Maine, USA joined the project in 2013/ 2014. In the academic year 2019/2020 the group of participants will be extended to the University of Bristol, England as well as the Odisee University College Brussels from Belgium.
The Crossing Borders project itself consists of two parts and takes place at the HSMW over two semesters. At the beginning of the project, students organize themselves into one of the given working groups, under the condition that each group has at least one member from each country.
During the winter semester, students work on the general overarching themes (Human Rights, Participation, Inclusion, Social Justice as well as Citizenship) alongside their work in their international working groups on their predetermined topic. The aim thereby is to write a collaborative paper with a theoretical foundation, where the particular situation in each of the participant’s countries is outlined and underpinned by a context related empirical research.
In this first semester, students in their respective topic groups communicate through methods such as a weekly videoconference. Together they develop a research question, allocate tasks, discuss their topic, and report on the stand of their respective progress.
The highlight of the international cooperation is known as the Intensive Week. It usually takes place at the end of November or beginning of December, and is currently hosted by the Inholland University of Applied Sciences in Alkmaar. This is where all participants meet for the first time in person, and the students live and work together. The aim is to put the last finishes on the group paper, and to present the group findings to the other participants of the project while, last but not least, through a variety of group activities, getting to know people and country.
Financial support for the study trip is possible through grants by the local International Office (ensuing costs are generally covered).
The second part of the Crossing Borders project takes place at the HSMW summer semester and is characterized by further discussions related to the focus of the project, a mutual evaluation and reflection of the project as well as a personal reflection report by the students.
In addition, Crossing Borders provides the prospect of a semester or internship abroad in connection with one of the participating cooperation countries.
Topics for the upcoming academic year 2020/2021 will be
- Group 1: Resilience
Direction: Lori Schnieders & Joost Weling
- Group 2: Vulnerable elderly people
Direction: Gina Ellis & Polly Wilson
- Group 3: Disability and inclusion
Direction: Knut Simonson & Hege Aarlie
- Group 4: Hidden homelessness, possibly in the case of youth and young adults
Direction: Kaat van Acker & Mieke Schrooten
- Group 5: Racism and discrimination
Direction: Asiye Kaya & Uriah Anderson
- Group 6: Preventive youth care
Direction: Hans-Jan Kuipers &Simone Peper
Topics for the academic year 2019/2020 will be
|1: PTSD and resilience in the case of veterans or children||Lori Schnieders and Uriah Anderson|
|2: disability and inclusion||Hege Aarlie and Knut Simonson|
|3: vulnerable elderly people||Olbjørg Skutle (and Polly Wilson)|
|4: racism and discrimination||Asiye Kaya|
|5: hidden homelessness||Mieke Schrooten|
|6: child protection services||Simone Peper|
|7: families and young children at risk||Hans-Jan Kuipers|