I’m very sorry, I’ve been far too quiet since I got here. I’ve been working hard.

I thought you’d like to know what I’ve been doing at university and how it’s going. We’re four weeks in, half way through term one. Erasmus University, (EUR), has four terms a year of eight weeks each. This term we have three courses. They are:

  1. Introduction to Economic Theory
  2. Introduction to Social Science Research
  3. Creative Economy and Creative Organisations

For Introduction to Economic Theory we have a three hour seminar each week and are ploughing through the weighty Krugman and Wells textbook. (there was some confusion over our text book). As I’ve said before I’ve done quite a bit of pre reading on economics but have concentrated on the different views and schools – who thinks what etc. Then weighty Krugman and Wells book is more technical. So far I’ve not come across a single reference to another economist. I’ve spent most of my time looking at supply and demand graphs and variants thereof. It’s not the most exciting book but I can see the logic of us going through it. Our lecturer, Paul helps bring it to together and valiantly tries to find cultural examples. Today we’ve been given out midterm assignment. I’ve got to prepare four arguments for a politician who is going to enter a debate arguing against public subsidy for the arts. A very interesting position for me to take given that my income over most of the past twenty odd years has come from public arts funding.  There will be an exam at the end of the course.

Introduction to Social Science Research is taught a bit differently. We are doing this course with a range of other students. Most of them are BA students in International media. We have another American textbook by Earl Babbie. We have weekly two hour lectures with Marc who does his best to animate what could otherwise be really tedious to what is a big audience. We’ve started to sit at the front to avoid the bachelor chit chat. We also have a three hour tutorial with Aldo – a charismatic Brazilian who has rapidly become all our favorite. He uses his own research to help us relate the general course to our area of interest. Last week we submitted part 1 of a three part assignment. In pairs, we’ve been developing research questions. Simone and I are looking at the differences and similarities between cinema and theatre audiences. Part 2 involve designing a quantitative survey and Part 3 some qualitative interview questions. There will also be an exam at the end of this course.

Thirdly we have Creative Economy and Creative Organisations. In a lot of ways this is the most interesting. We don’t have a set text book but are given three chapters or articles to read each week. We’re also encouraged to read around. We’ve been looking at things like creative motivation, organization and definitions. We are working with students who are doing electives or exchanges from other universities. We don’t have an exam in this course – phew! We are working on a ‘class assignment’ in groups. Our group are a fictional vlog, creatively reviewing content on Netflix. Each week we’re given questions to answer through the filter of our organisation. For our midterm assignment we’ve been given a range of statements. We need to choose two and argue for or against them using the set texts and additional reading where appropriate. We’ve only got a week to do this so I’d better get on with it.

My desk awaiting my creative input

My desk awaiting my creative input

The whole course is taught in English, I couldn’t be doing it otherwise. I’m really lucky, most of my fellow students are studying in their second languages. The disadvantage of this is that a lot of the texts we are get are written in and about the UK. I’m hoping that as time goes on I will get to learn more about the rest of the world. The course comes from a western perspective and I expected that but, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I’ve a lot of experience of the UK cultural scene.

I’m actually really enjoying it all at the moment. There is a lot of reading and some of it is either challenging, tedious or even badly written. I’m finding my way through and starting to make the connections between the courses. I’m enjoying someone else making my organisational arrangements: be in this lecture at 11:00; read that chapter by Wednesday; submit your assignment on line by the 7th… I’m working hard but keeping up and learning.

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