By Sine Schei
Whether it is the course itself, or the work produced by students in the class that remains at an undergraduate level, there is an unresolved dispute between the faculty and students of the mandatory MINT course ‘Global Issues and Perspectives.’
In 2022, the Institute revamped its interdisciplinary programmes and transformed the previous two programmes in development and international affairs into the Master in International and Development Studies (MINT). The MINT course is the largest programme at the Institute with a cohort of more than 230 students.
The course Global Issues and Perspectives is a mandatory course for all first year students of the MINT programme. It “aims to offer a creative space to reflect on global challenges and foster the understanding of our world by drawing on the expertise of the Graduate Institute and International Geneva.” This is done by focusing on various transversal themes, bringing in different internal and external lecturers.
While the course is meant to cover themes relevant to all specialization tracks of the MINT programme, many students have noticed that the number of lectures dedicated to each discipline is unbalanced. The core themes of the class, as they connect to the values of the MINT program are governance, education, democracy, the digital turn, justice, and sustainability. Most MINT specializations certainly can be intertwined to these themes in one way or another; however students have also noted the complete absence of global health in the classes. While several classes were given on the topic of migration, there are no exam questions about this. With several questions on the theme of justice, for example, this can give an advantage to those who are well-versed in these disciplines prior to taking the course.
As the class is divided in two parts—Global Issues and Perspectives I and II—many students took the opportunity to give feedback on the course after their first semester. Students seemed to have shared the vision that the academic level of the course resembled that of their undergraduate studies. In the first class of Global Issues in the second semester, this was countered by Professor Rodogno—head of the MINT programme—suggesting that the work submitted by students was also at the undergraduate level.
Contrary to what students are promised when applying to a master’s degree at the Geneva Graduate Institute, where both “innovative pedagogical approaches” and an average of “20 students in each course, providing numerous opportunities to interact with the professor” are highlighted, this class is a large lecture with close to zero interaction between students, teaching assistants, and professors. The 250-person course that all MINT students are required to take for their first two semesters, remains with zero feedback or personal contact with lecturers. Nonetheless, accounting for one fifth of MINT students’ first year credits, it comes with a price tag of 1600 CHF.1
The entire grade of the course is based on one assignment, a 3000-word essay based on one of ten different prompts. The prompts are loosely tied to the content of the course, while it is more than possible to answer based only on knowledge from your undergraduate studies. There is no individual follow-up, and only one, although very hardworking, TA available for the entire class. For many students, this culminates in the feeling that final grade may as well depend on the quality of your education before coming to the Institute rather than any takeaways from the class itself.
Not only is it unusual for the classes in the MINT programme to base a grade on one assignment only, but any student wishing to receive feedback on this grade will have to dream on. Those who scored lower than expected—or simply wished to receive feedback on how to improve their academic work further—certainly will not get it from this course.
1 12 ECTS is 20% of the regular 60 ECTS course load at IHEID. 1600 CHF is one fifth of the tuition fee international students pay at IHEID.
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