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Guiding principles for teaching


As part of its structural and development plan for the 2021-2025 period, the European University Viadrina has agreed on guiding principles that update its founding mission and serve as a basis for its future development. The guiding principles relevant to teaching at the university are elaborated below.

Viadrina has thus agreed on a teaching charter based on the German Science and Humanities Council’s position paper on strategies and teaching guidelines for university teaching published in April 2017 and on the German Ministry of Education’s model statutes relating to system accreditation. One of the core elements of the guiding principles for teaching is therefore an understanding of Viadrina’s mission as a teaching institution, including general qualification goals and teaching guidelines. In addition to figures on course enrolment, the guiding principles establish rules for quality standards for degree programmes at Viadrina and for assessing their success.

The following guiding principles are intended as an aid to orientation for all teachers and students at the European University Viadrina and also apply to student counselling and support. They are of particular relevance to the development of degree programmes for quality management and development. The guiding principles include linking decentralized activities in individual degree programmes with centralized services and systematically integrating them into the quality management programme. They specify how the guidance on the comparative assessment of teaching quality published by the Brandenburg Network for the Quality of Degree Progammes (Netzwerk Studienqualität Brandenburg or “sqb”) is to be applied to appointment procedures.

Objectives and guiding principles for teaching

The European University Viadrina stands for the unity of teaching and research at the highest academic level. Viadrina furthers its students’ intellectual and personal development, gives them scope to develop their interests and enables them not only to be capable of critical thinking and finding direction in a complex world but also to act sustainably. The university sees teaching and learning as interdependent processes which generate knowledge. Viadrina strives to balance the ideal of an academic education with students’ interest in attaining professional qualifications.

For students, this guiding principle is put into practice by creating a range of study programmes that further academic thinking and the ability to reflect, permits individual specializations and prepares students for a variety of professions. For teaching staff, Viadrina provides space and opportunities for further training and incentives to reflect on their teaching. Teaching quality has an important part to play in the appointment of teaching staff.

Viadrina reaches out to prospective students and helps them prepare for their university studies. It aims to attract students from the local region, Germany as a whole and from abroad.
Viadrina embraces internationality and diversity in all its facets through its students and staff, thereby promoting respect for different perspectives.


The profiles of its three faculties – the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Social and Cultural Sciences and the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics – along with the “European New School of Digital Studies” which was established jointly with the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (Poland) at the start of the 2020/2021 winter semester - lends teaching at Viadrina its unique character. One particular feature is the unity of teaching and research which is also of benefit to the teaching of the knowledge and academic skills required for a variety of professions in the social and cultural fields, economics and the arts.

Close contact between students and teaching staff is central to teaching at Viadrina and to collaborative learning. The university is committed to the ideal of good teaching and promotes innovation. Responsibility for students’ success is of central importance for the university. With this aim in mind, Viadrina provides a wide range of support for learning processes, starting with preparation for university studies.
Students appreciate the excellent support they receive during their degree programmes, one aspect being that all units are carefully coordinated. Viadrina students experience an open-minded European environment directly on the German-Polish border, have an opportunity to learn foreign languages and are able to benefit from a large network of partner universities for periods of study abroad.

Challenges and opportunities for development

Diversity and heterogeneity

Viadrina values the diversity of its students and staff and therefore promotes an academic and working culture that respects individuality, takes equal opportunities seriously and supports the development of talent and potential. Acceptance by all students and staff, the commitment to fighting against discrimination and racism and to equal opportunities are inseparable.

Viadrina creates favourable conditions for personal development, based on students’ potential and consideration of different needs. Important elements are subject-related guidance and support for individualized learning processes, the provision of suitable learning spaces and courses and furthering students’ self-learning skills and collaborative work. Viadrina helps students, particularly those starting their degrees, to become familiar with academic work at university, taking account of the great variety of students’ backgrounds - whether they come from academic or non-academic families and irrespective of where they gained their university entrance qualifications.


Digitization has not only transformed the way people deal with information and how they communicate, it has also brought about changes in professions, occupations and altered the frontiers between different areas of life. It also affects learning and teaching.
The challenges presented by digitization for teaching at Viadrina are on two fronts. Firstly, consideration needs to be given to which digital literacy skills and knowledge should be or are able to be taught in individual degree programmes. However, thought also needs to be given to how information and communication in higher education, i.e. learning as a social experience in the digital age, can be shaped successfully. In particular, digitization provides opportunities for developing individualized and more inclusive learning processes for heterogeneous groups of students (for more details see “University teaching in the digital age”).

Disciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and key skills

Achieving the right combination of discipinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity presents a particular challenge for university studies. It is also important to achieve a balance between the discipline-specific teaching of knowledge and methods, interdisciplinary communication and multidisciplinary knowledge and skills.

Teaching and research are not only inextricably connected as teaching reflects the latest developments in research. Specialist methods, ways of working and practices are not only taught but are also a medium for teaching. University teaching at Viadrina aims to introduce students to the (different) strategies, approaches and forms of work used in the social sciences, law, economics and the arts and to enable students to practise applying them, thus permitting theory-informed reflection in a community of inquiring teachers and students. Subject-specific teaching starts by drawing on students’ existing social skills and the personal ability to comprehend and to communicate insights and processes - although their development is not dependent on a particular subject. (for more details see “Disciplines, methods, subject-specific working methods and key skills”)

The interdisciplinary study programmes offered at Viadrina not only present particular challenges but also provide opportunities for disciplines to learn from each other. They promote interdisciplinary exchanges and enable academic methods and principles to be taught by reflecting on the boundaries between disciplines while developing an awareness of the fundamental issues that they have in common.

Education for science, industry and society

A knowledge of different academic and working cultures is particularly important as it enables students to develop the skills and power of judgment required for science, industry and society. It enables students to be capable of forward-looking thinking and action and forms part of education for sustainable development (for more details see “Education for sustainable development”)