Group presentations and facilitation of critical discussion (NN6) 

Study board MSc in Business, Language and Culture (BLC) 
Course title The EU as a Global Actor
Course type/size Mandatory course (approx. 40 students) 
Teaching format Face-to-face

Learning consultants’ reflection on NN connection of this activity 
In this activity, students get to put both dimensions of NN6 into practice. The design of this activity requires students to steer away from their personal views and instead showcase critical thinking based on the knowledge of the analytical frameworks relevant to the field. Students get to work collaboratively researching a topic, and then contribute to the whole-class construction of knowledge when it is their turn to facilitate the discussion. 

NN6 aims to develop competencies that prepare students for working on complex problems. In doing this, it is important to steer away from personal emotions and opinions and instead construct arguments based on collected data and relevant theoretical frameworks, being ready to consider constructive criticism from the reviewers. 

Teaching philosophy
“My aim is that students learn how to analyze political processes using analytical frameworks not their gut feeling, or their opinions (as teachers, we cannot grade that). I try to teach them how to use analytical skills to be able to talk about sometimes upsetting political things without getting emotional. But they should still be critical. They can be critical, but academically.”   

Magali Gravier 

Key objectives
Learning objective(s) aligned with this activity: 

  • Show an understanding of how the institutions and actors identified for the chosen project influence the EU’s external action. 
  • Select and apply theories accounting for the EU’s international role in relation with the project 
  • Apply the selected theories to the data collected. 
  • Elaborate an argumentation making use of theories and data  
  • Reflect critically on the theories used and on the data collected. 
  • Discuss the EU’s importance as a global actor. 

Description of the activity
The course consists of two parts. In the first part, the teacher focuses on building foundational knowledge through on-campus and synchronous lectures supported by PowerPoint slides. In the second part of the course, the focus is on having students apply their knowledge about the EU from the first part of the course. Here students learn to analyse political issues, topics, processes and political crises; not by using their personal opinions but by critically applying the analytical framework from this course. 

The learning activity is student-driven and happens over 5 sessions of 3 hours each. Each week, 1-2 groups (3 students max) make presentations of no longer than 15 minutes on their chosen topic that falls within the broader lecture topic. The groups also facilitate the class discussion with questions. In preparing their presentations, students are encouraged to draw on relevant data and analytical tools (theories, concepts, models) rather than be descriptive and are expected to indicate their resources and academic literature. The activity is framed as a collaborative effort where everybody contributes to the knowledge exchange in class. 

In the group discussion, personal opinions will appear – the role of both the facilitating group and the teacher (who is aiding) is to guide the discussion back to the analytical framework of the course. This will be done by intervening e.g., asking “How would a realist/liberal/constructivist argue this point?”  

Students use the presentation topic for their final home assignment. They must formulate individual research questions (with teacher guidance) but can re-use group work from the presentation.