Let’s build human towers!

By: Emma Hägg, International Coordinator, International Relations Office

“All together for internationalisation”. Teamwork is not easy…but it is most often rewarding and the outcome greater than the expectations…

The ongoing STINT-funded IoC-project (Internationalisation of the Curriculum) at Karolinska Institutet has identified the support services as important stakeholders and change agents in the process of integrating internationalisation into the university as a whole. In KIs newly adopted Strategy 2030 one of three strategic directions is “the global university”.

But how to get admin on board and how to get them to meet, communicate, collaborate and feel that they are an integral part of a global university?

Sharing best practice

With this thought in mind five administrative staff with various responsibilities from two different offices; landed in foggy Porto to pick up best practices from the Systemic University Change Towards Internationalisation (SUCTI)-project focusing on how to engage and empower admin staff in internationalisation. Five universities have been working since 2016 in a strategic partnership project supported and cofounded by EAIE and Erasmus+.

The background, context and surveys before and after the SUCTI-project were presented to show the actual impact this training has had on the participants. And indeed, they presented successful results.

SUCTI trainers presented elements from the training in different sessions:

  • Icebreakers for participants in trainings
  • Understanding your university’s position in the world (Rankings)
  • How international (inclusive and communicative) is your university online
  • Identifying with an international student
  • If you were Rector for a day?
  • The importance of teamwork

What we as participants learned during the day was just a sneak peak but really got us thinking about the next steps to take. The final SUCTI conference is 27 June in Tarragona and all material, reports and tools will be made available as the project closes.

The Education Support Office would like to pilot a training in internationalisation with study counsellors with the tools from the project. The pilot, planned for autumn 2019,  might very well be the start of something bigger. Remember the SUCTI-project statement…”all together for internationalisation”.

The joy of teamwork

The SUCTI-trainers all expressed that the best outcomes of the project were learning more about their own university, their colleagues and what they do, the importance of communication and professional development. It was also challenging at times as teamwork most often is!

The parallel to the Tarragona phenomena of the castells (the human towers) makes sense. The success of a castell depends on the contribution of each and every casteller (person in the castell). Likewise, the contributions of each and every member of a university are essential to its internationalisation process. It might sometimes also be hard and frustrating, but the reward is what Fiona Hunter, one of the key people in the project, named “institutional happiness” the joy in sharing effort and success.

With the inspiration from Porto, let’s start building some human towers!

Charlotta Cederberg SPUN, Isabel Johnson SPUN, Karen Gustafsson SPUN/IoC, Emma Hägg IK/SIR and Maria Olsson IK/SER



International Coordinator with a great interest for communications and a talent for project management. Employed by Karolinska Institutet since 2004.


Related posts