The AAE Summer Schools initiated by the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP; Departments of Communication and of Management), the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN; School of Management), and the Chemnitz University of Technology (TUC; Faculty of Economics and Business Administration) is proposed as an interdisciplinary and intercultural study program for Diploma, Master and Bachelor students. This year’s topic “Comparative Border Studies“ focuses on the current regional challenges of society and economy and links collaborative teaching and research interests of the three universities. The first AAE Summer School that took place on “Crossing Borders – Intercultural and Organizational Communication“ at the TUC in 2007 can be considered as starting point of a promising transnational cooperation between the three institutions mentioned above. Like 2007, participants will be students from the host institution UTEP, from TUC and from UKZN.
Three Universities – Similar Historical, Societal and Economic Settings
The contents of the Summer School on “Comparative Border Studies“ rest to a large degree on the crucial changes that have taken place in the three countries. They are also based on diverse attempts by private and public organizations to adjust to these social, economic, and political changes. All the countries respectively regions in which the three universities are located share a similar background to a certain extent.
They were caused by transformations, e.g. in the 1990’s generated by the German reunification, the migration problem in Southern USA and the declaration of the first democratic government of national unity in South Africa. These events opened new societal dimensions: The most central ones might be im-/migration and diversity, a (increasing) multicultural population or the mere location close to the border. The first two problems affected the border city El Paso, Durban as well as Chemnitz to a varying extent. Of course, the aforementioned changes also left their marks in the economic field. With regard to Chemnitz, the East Expansion of the European Union is of special interest in this context. It is connected to the black market issue that concerns El Paso and Chemnitz, too. Durban has to cope with the challenges of the Black Empowerment Act and the conjoined transformation of the South African Economy and Society.
All these aspects do not only unite the involved universities but they will also be central subjects of the AAE Summer School. The questions of interest to the students are (1) how the respective governments handle these problems, (2) which programs have been drawn up to solve them and (3) which effects were achieved with regards to society and economy. In this context, the students are to examine how the countries can learn from each other.
Together with lecturers from TUC and UKZN lectures are held by the UTEP Sam Donaldson Centre for Communication Research. Places of teaching will be the UTEP but also the University of Texas in Albuquerque and the Texas State University at Las Cruces. Teaching will be highly interactive and is combined with group work and field trips. Therefore, the study program leads to both a theoretical reflection of practice and an appropriation of theory in work and life reality.