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European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies

Free online courses reach more than 100,000 learners

The open courses developed by the Cultural Pluralism team, led by Anna Triandafyllidou, will now be offered without interruption on the FutureLearn platform.

06 March 2023

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As of early 2023, the European University Institute’s massive open online courses (MOOCs) have reached nearly 100, 000 learners from around the world on topics ranging from European identities and cultural diplomacy, to migration and inter-faith dialogue. After seven years of experience and 11 courses being offered in sessions for a definite learning period, on 1 March 2023 the EUI has decided to grant continuous and open access to all of its MOOCs.

This journey started back in 2017, when the Cultural Pluralism Research Area at the Global Governance Programme of the Robert Schuman Centre decided to develop a partnership with the platform FutureLearn, in order to step up its capacity to develop free online courses and reach out to global learners.

The first MOOC on ‘Cultural heritage and the city’ attracted thousands of learners, who turned the course into a platform of exchange and mutual learning. After this first exciting experience, the Cultural Pluralism team developed three more courses on culture and heritage: ‘Cultures and identities in Europe’, ‘Cultural diversity and the city’, ‘Cultural diplomacy’ and ‘Culture in the digital age’. In parallel, three courses were developed on migration: ‘Why do people migrate’ covering facts and theory and ‘Migration and the city’. In 2018, thanks to the awarding of the EU Horizon 2020 projects ‘Radicalisation, secularism and the governance of religion: bringing together diverse perspectives’ and ‘Building resilience against violent extremism and polarisation’, the team had the opportunity to develop three new MOOCS: one on ‘Religion, radicalisation and resilience’, one on ‘Interfaith dialogue’ and one on ‘Governing religion’.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and forced billions of people to stay at home, the European University Institute was able to offer 11 MOOCs online and free of charge. As a result, in 2020, the Council of Europe, selected the MOOC ‘Heritage and the city’ as a good practice as part of its Strategy 21 – the European heritage strategy for the 21st century.

According to Professor Anna Triandafyllidou, director of the Cultural Pluralism Research Area at the time, the making of MOOCs constituted a valuable experience for a center of excellence such as the EUI: “They gave us an opportunity to create educational materials from cutting edge research on a number of important issues that Europe and the world are confronted with today including migration governance, addressing violent radicalisation, or developing cultural diplomacy in a digitalising world”. MOOCs are a powerful tool to popularise knowledge, she added: “Through the MOOCs we reached out to a very diverse international audience, which normally does not connect with the EUI or other high-level research institutions. We feel we offered something different to the community of users and engaged them into a critical reflection on important socio-economic and cultural processes that shape our societies today.”

The large number of people that signed up for the courses testifies to the importance of open and publicly accessible teaching methods that help democratise knowledge across diverse regions.

All courses are available on EUI’s FutureLearn platform.

Last update: 06 March 2023

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