The Jean Monnet Module 'Stepping Stones to Working Life in the Field of EU–Russia Relations (STEPIN)' is designed to be an innovative bridge between the final stages of university studies at the Master’s level and the professional life. STEPIN consists of an intensive, one-week tailor-made training course on EU issues (EU–Russia relations in particular) with special relevance for the students’ professional life. Focusing on skills and knowledge in a transversal sense, the training course provides the students with a concrete introduction to professional life in the academia, research institutes, administration, policy-making and the private sector. In terms of methodology, STEPIN is a hands-on training course that emphasises learning by doing and active, intertwined participation by the students, the teaching staff and visitors. It is based on actual career paths and experiences from various work environments in the field of EU–Russia relations.
STEPIN is aimed at Master’s level students in International Relations, Russian Studies and Sociology at Finnish and Russian universities. The general focus of the course is on EU external relations and EU–Russia relations, and each of the three annual courses is organised around a specific sub-theme. The sub-themes are chosen with emphasis on their general relevance and timeliness, as well as the assessment of the previous courses. The course takes place at the University of Tampere once a year. The participants, a group of maximum of 25 students, come from Finland and Russia. In conjunction with the training course, a public seminar is organised on the specific theme of the course. The seminar is aimed at the wider public, including civil society.
There is a pressing need for courses that emphasise the connection between university studies and the professional life and foster the development of university students’ transversal skills. The needs and expectations of the potential employers and the skills and knowledge of the recent graduates do not often meet. This seems to be the case for students in humanities and social sciences in particular; in these fields, it can be particularly difficult to identify clear-cut work opportunities or career paths. It is imperative that new ways of connecting the academia and potential employers are explored. STEPIN is one such way: it facilitates connections and dialogue between the two sides through a tailored training course.
STEPIN brings together Master’s level students and professionals working at various public and private institutions in the field of EU–Russia relations. The students learn about the potential employers’ expectations and actual career paths available; the potential employers get a glimpse on the students’ interests and potential. Such encounters lower the threshold between the universities and the “outside world”, increasing the visibility and importance of EU studies. Furthermore, they motivate the students by pushing them to see the relevance of the expertise they have gained through their studies and see new ways they can put this expertise to use.
The University of Tampere is an ideal host for STEPIN for multiple reasons. First, the University and its Politics Programme have a high profile in research and teaching of European Studies and EU–Russia relations. It hosts the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on European Politics and European–Russian Relations and runs a Master’s Programme on Russian and European Studies. Second, it has excellent contacts to a number of Russian universities. Third, its vibrant School of Communication, Media and Theatre will greatly facilitate the training sessions on media, whereas the Centre of Teaching Technology will assist in creating learning environments for the course and disseminating its results. Fourth, the University has a stated interest in employment opportunities and a wide contact network with local and national actors in the private sector. Its central location in Finland has enabled it to become a hub for Master’s students in the relevant fields. Finally, the training course is set to benefit from the feedback mechanisms and quality control of teaching enforced at the University in general and the School of Management and its Politics Programme in particular.
STEPIN is expected to raise the visibility of EU studies and foster interest in the EU, EU external relations and EU–Russia relations among students, teachers and researchers from a wide geographical area and various disciplines, such as languages and Sociology. Thus, it not only fosters contacts between the academia and various other public and private actors but also between different cultures and actors therein within the academic world itself. The course will raise the University of Tampere’s profile on EU studies and EU–Russia expertise both nationally and internationally. This is particularly important in 2014, with the funding for the Jean Monnet Centre coming to an end.
STEPIN has been granted EU co-funding for Jean Monnet Modules for the academic years 2014/2015–2016/2017.
| With the support of the Jean Monnet Programme of the European Union.
The Jean Monnet Programme is part of the EU's Erasmus+ Programme.