Overall, this Masaryk International Relations and Threats to Global Security course was an interesting and unique experience. It allowed me to dramatically improve my knowledge of global security using Europe as a case study to go in-depth on the intricacies of this complex concept. This opportunity helped me to become better at learning and interacting with teachers and students virtually, which I expect to be highly beneficial in a post-covid world. In this course, we explored a number of topics within security studies, such as cybersecurity, terrorism, conflict, humanitarian crises, and more. This course was a nice change from the standard university experience, as it was very self-driven and I was able to focus exclusively on these topics rather than dividing my time into several different papers. I feel it allowed me to gain a deeper and more well-rounded understanding of what I was learning.
The content was engaging, and a mixture of lectures and readings meant there was a diverse range of sources to gather different perspectives from. There would be a lecture most weekdays, and on the days without one, we would hear from a speaker from organisations such as the UN, the OSCE, Radio Europe and more. This balance between theory and real-world contexts was very informative. Before each lecture, we would be briefly quizzed on the readings for that day, which was challenging but also helped me genuinely engage with the textbooks. All of the teachers and course coordinators were knowledgeable, helpful, and open to any questions. With such vastly different backgrounds, hearing from so many different lecturers helped to enrich this experience.
There were two main assignments we needed to complete – the first being a group presentation and the second an essay. The group presentation was challenging, particularly working virtually, but forced us to strategically divide the work and think critically about how to best complete the task. The presentation was also pre-recorded, which meant that the lecture time itself could be used to discuss our work as a group rather than passively watching each group present. I liked that the essay topic was very broad, as it meant I could research something I was particularly interested in.
The most challenging part of this course was its online format, mainly due to the differing time zones which meant that lectures would be in the evening. Regardless, I became used to this very quickly, and it allowed me to expand what I considered normal learning conditions. The course was quite intensive with long readings, but the consistency, clarity and predictability of when we were expected to complete tasks meant it was easy to fall into a routine and plan my time. Beyond this, I was able to credit this course to my Auckland University degree as equivalent to a full semester course and completed it in just over 3 weeks. Overall, I would recommend this course to someone who is looking to challenge themselves and expand their knowledge and skillset. It was incredibly rewarding and has helped me gain further clarity of possible career paths I want to take.