The FernUniversität in Hagen, the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) and the Open Universiteit Nederland (OUNl) are three leading European distance learning universities firmly devoted to further the principle of equal opportunity by safeguarding equal access to top quality higher education to everyone, using a methodology based on the principles of modern distance learning focused on the needs of the student. In 2014, after eight years of successful cooperation in the organization of international common teaching activities on the bachelor level, these universities established a Strategic Partnership to further cultural exchange and best practices in the internationalisation of high quality education in law for all three Bologna cycles. Developed within this framework, the EDELNet (European Distance Education in Law Network) project is planned to be the first building block in the implementation of an ambitious scientific and pedagogic concept of Blended Active Learning and student oriented teaching facilitating a personal learning path with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity and intercultural communication skills as a basis for a better understanding of each other’s legal cultures and practices throughout Europe and beyond. The project has been recently awarded with European Union funding in the amount of 403.555 Euro for the period 2015-2018 by the DAAD ERASMUS+ funding program for Strategic Partnerships (Call 2015).
The goals of this project address the current need in the European society for widening the access to top quality higher education through international academic cooperation, as identified in the 2011 EU Modernisation Agenda (COM (2011) 567 final). For this purpose, EDELNet is geared toward the modernization of teaching methods in law with an innovative combination of student-centred blended learning tools and concepts. This innovative combination also draws on intercultural communication and interdisciplinary processes for the production, learning and application of relevant inter-subjective knowledge in addition to the traditional contents of legal education. This will be implemented through an international and cross-cultural cooperation that is devised to broaden access to and participation in international and European education, especially for disadvantaged groups such as students with disabilities, economic, social or geographical obstacles, health problems or cultural differences.
In order to achieve these goals the EDELNet project comprises the development and implementation of virtual and face-to-face teaching and training activities and courseware in key methodological and substantive areas of the law, including language competences, intercultural communication skills and interdisciplinary methods of knowledge production applied to legal practice and scholarship.
The EDELNet project is based on the full commitment and support of the key academic and administrative units of the three partner universities, especially those working in the fields of quality management, IT and media, dissemination and knowledge transfer, and the central management units (Deans’ and Rectors’ offices).
In the long run, we hope for students from associated universities and other potential public and private institutions from all over Europe and beyond to participate in our program and benefit from the EDELNet project results. In line with these anticipations, we expect students and staff to: have a high quality international experience that will enrich their learning and professional paths; overcome language inhibitions by taking English as a common language; and cultivate their intercultural competences while operating in a cross-cultural environment. The project will also grant students easy access to an international network of professionals of the law, both academic and practitioners. All this will decisively improve our students’ chances to get access to the international and European labor market and will bring forward our plans to merger different European teaching cultures, traditions and didactic formats to improve teaching practice in the entire European community of law teaching. Through affordable, relevant, high quality and internationalized higher distant learning education in the field of law, we expect to contribute to a sustainable and inclusive growth in the European Union.
Structure of the EDLNet
The governance and management structure of the Strategic Partnership consists of the Executive Board, the Supervisory Board and the Partnership Coordination.
It approves and supervises the management plans of the Partnership. It is composed of two faculty members from each Partner University, namely
- Prof. Dr Prinz von Sachsen Gessaphe and Nils Szuka from the FernUniversität Hagen
- Prof. Dr. Eva Domínguez and Prof. Dr. Pablo de Diego from the UNED
- Prof. Dr. Huub Spoormans and Peter Brouwers from the OU
It monitors the work of the Executive Board. It is staffed by the Law Deans of the Partner Universities, namely
- Prof. Dr. Gabriele Zwiehoff (FernUniversität Hagen)
- Prof. Dr. Evert Stamhuis (OU)
- Prof. Dr. Gómez Adanero (UNED)
The Partnership Coordination assists the Presidents of the Executive and the Supervisory Board. It informs the Boards about project developments and puts forward for the consideration of the Executive Board the development plans for the Strategic Partnership. It also sees to it that the decisions of the Boards are adequately implemented.
This position is currently covered by Dr. Juan J. Garcia Blesa.