The Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus Students
2017 Laureate of the Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus Students
It is with great pleasure that we can announce the result of the work of the selection committee established by the Executive Board to assess the nominations from member universities for the Arenberg-Coimbra Group for Erasmus Students.
The 2017 Laureate is Ms Aura Nikkilä from the University of Turku, who spent her Erasmus exchange period at the University of Granada. You can find the recommendation of the selection committee below.
The selection committee consisted of Professors Jeff Haywood, Joaquim Ramos de Carvalho and Lenka Rovna. The Executive Board has thanked the committee for their work.
We heartily congratulate Aura Nikkilä on winning the 2017 Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize and look forward to meeting her at the General Assembly in Edinburgh where she will receive her Prize from the Duke of Arenberg.
Recommendation, 31 March 2017
The selection committee established by the Executive Board for the 2017 Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus Students is pleased to unanimously nominate Ms Aura Nikkilä from the University of Turku (Finland) for this year’s award. Ms Aura Nikkilä spent her spring semester as an Erasmus exchange student at the University of Granada in the academic year 2011-2012.
Ms Aura Nikkilä has shown that the value of the Erasmus experience is particularly significant for gaining international and intercultural experience as well as for developing research interests including a theoretical framework and the specification of the topic of her thesis.
Ms Nikkilä spent 5 and half months at the University of Granada in 2012. Her motivation for selecting Granada was her knowledge of the language as well as her interest in art history. Living in Granada helped her to comprehend the language, even the Andalusian dialect, but most of all to experience an international environment in the rich historical background of an old city, which in the past was, and is again, marked by the presence of different cultures. Ms Nikkilä took all her courses in Spanish, and especially the course dealing with comics studies which played an important role in her professional growth.
It was in Granada that the idea of focusing on comics studies took shape. The course work concentrated on a comics book by Finish author Ville Tietäväinen called ‘Näkymättömät kädet’ describing the story of a Moroccan man who became a refugee in Spain. The novel, and Ms Nikkilä’s MA thesis deal with, according to the laureate: “global inequality, irregular migration, questions of ethnicity and racism, religion, honour and insanity, along with the crossing of borders. The main theoretical frame that I built my analysis on is transnationalism”.
Ms Nikkilä stressed how the Erasmus exchange, and the time she spent in the multicultural environment of Granada, influenced her way of seeing the world, her academic career as well as her understanding of the entangled history of Europe.
Having successfully defended her thesis, Ms Nikkilä was awarded the mark Laudatur, the highest grade for the thesis work. She is currently a PhD student at her home University of Turku.
The Committee would like to congratulate Ms Aura Nikkilä on this year’s Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize and wish her a successful career based on her Erasmus educational experience.
We would also like to congratulate the other candidates, whose testimonials were additional excellent examples of the impact of their mobility experience and their academic qualities. We are pleased to recognise also the commitment to the Erasmus project of the Coimbra Group Universities where they were awarded their degrees and undertook their exchange periods of study.
2016 Laureate of the Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus Students
The 2016 Laureate of the Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus Students has been selected by the selection committee established by the Executive Board. The 2016 Laureate is Ms Ting-jung Chen from Taipei, who undertook her Erasmus Mundus Master’s Programme at the University of Göttingen.
On 10 June 2016, the Laureate, Ting-jung Chen, received her certificate from the Duke of Arenberg, during the Coimbra Group General Assembly.
The award ceremony was hosted by the University of Poitiers. Ting-jung Chen and Duke Leopold of Arenberg
Recommendation, 31 March 2016
The selection committee established by the Executive Board for the 2016 Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus Students is pleased to unanimously nominate Ms Ting-jung Chen from the University of Göttingen (Germany) for this year’s award. Ms Ting-jung Chen spent her 5-month Erasmus exchange as part of her Erasmus Mundus Euroculture Master programme at the University of Uppsala in the academic year 2013-2014.
Ms Ting-jung Chen has shown that the value of the Erasmus experience is particularly significant for non-European students. The opportunities created by the European Higher Education Area and more specifically by the Erasmus Mundus master programmes allow non-European students to develop their research interests in European subjects and contribute to the dissemination of a culture of diversity, discussion and creativity.
Originating in Taiwan and having majored in Slavic Languages and Literatures, along with Diplomacy, Ms Ting-jung Chen desired to develop her research interests in Europe. After a stay in Saint Petersburg she applied successfully to the Euroculture Erasmus Mundus Master programme in Göttingen. Her first semester in Germany consisted of a wide range of seminars and German classes, which through “elaborate discussions with contrasting ideologies … lay foundations for my upcoming semester in the north”. Uppsala brought “not only scents of ancient archives, but also atmosphere of creativity and vitality”.
It is clear that the experience of diversity, creativity and discussion at the European universities shaped Ms Chen’s choices and perspectives: “My multicultural experiences are constant battles of reinventing conceptions and prescriptions, and hence inspire my approach of how to research potential conflicts in foreign policies”.
It was in Uppsala that the idea of focusing on Europe-Russia relations for her thesis took shape. She was able to present her project to the EU Delegation in Sweden, as part of her course activities at the University of Uppsala. The ability to communicate in several languages (“Mandarin, English, French, German, Russian, and Polish”) gave Ms Chen an edge in pursuing her topic of research. A research period in Strasbourg complemented a transnational and multicultural trajectory that resulted in the final master thesis, successfully presented to the University of Göttingen: “Hostilities in Eyes of the Beholders? Foreign Policies of the European Union and the Russian Federation 2009 to 2014”.
Ms Chen’s essay is an illuminating testimonial of the power of the Erasmus project to induce experiences that change the perception of Europe in young people, with enduring effects. In this particular case, the effect is amplified by Ms Chen’s non-European origin and the topic of choice. As the Laureate stated: “The thesis represents more than a designated obligation of a master degree, but an accumulated consequent of multicultural experiences”.
Having successfully defended her thesis, Ms Chen is currently working as an intern at the EU Office in Taipei. The Committee would like to congratulate Ms Ting-jung Chen on this year’s Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize and wish her a successful career based on her European educational experience.
We would also like to congratulate the other candidates, whose testimonials were additional excellent examples of the impact of their mobility experience and their academic qualities, as well as of the commitment to the Erasmus project of Coimbra Group Universities where they were awarded their degrees and undertook their exchange periods.