CHARM-EU, WTF*? Academic opportunities and international mobility

Text: CHARM-EU WTF*? Academic opportunities and international mobility * Welcome to the Future - CHARM-EU information session at the University of Barcelona Photo: all the speakers infront of the main table of the Aula Magna
Tue, 03/19/2024 - 11:49

*Welcome to the Future

The University of Barcelona hosted an information session on Thursday, March 14th, 2024, to introduce students to the innovative CHARM-EU alliance and its Master's programme in Global Challenges for Sustainability. This event, aimed at both UB students and exchange participants, featured presentations by university officials, student council representatives, and current students of the master. Attendees learned about the benefits of the programme, including its focus on real-world sustainability challenges, international mobility opportunities, and a unique transdisciplinary learning environment. 

Kicking off the event, Marta Ferrer, the University of Barcelona's Vice-Principal for Students and University Life, welcomed attendees and introduced the student speakers. Jan Butí, President of the CHARM-EU Student Council, then provided an overview of European Universities Alliances, with a particular focus on CHARM-EU. Following this, Sergio Villanueva, Rector's Delegate for CHARM-EU at UB, delved into the specifics of the Master's programme itself. The highlight of the event came from current and past master's programme students: Krista Trendafilova (Bulgaria), who graduated from the programme's second edition in January 2024, and current students Alisia Gahabka (Germany) and Kristiana Qerosi (Italy), who shared their unique experiences and insights from the programme. 


European Universities Initiative from the European Commission 

The European Commission actively promotes European Universities Alliances as a way to boost the competitiveness of universities within the European Higher Education Area. These alliances aim to achieve this by fostering collaboration through interuniversity campuses, promoting student and staff mobility across institutions, and encouraging a more interconnected educational landscape.


CHARM-EU Master’s programme in Global Challenges for Sustainability 

The CHARM-EU alliance brings together nine European universities under a common goal: tackling global sustainability challenges. Five of the nine universities offer a unique Master's programme – the Master's in Global Challenges for Sustainability. These universities are the University of Barcelona, Trinity Colleague Dublin, Utrecht University, Université de Montpellier and Eötvös Lórand University in Budapest. Designed as a 1.5-year, 90 ECTS programme, this master equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to address pressing sustainability issues, in particular regarding water, food, and life and health matters. 

This master sets itself apart through its unique features. Students gain a well-rounded education through a blend of challenge-based learning, a transdisciplinary approach, and an enriching intercultural experience. The programme utilizes hybrid classrooms, allowing online and in-person interaction. Mobility between partner universities adds another layer, fostering collaboration with students from diverse backgrounds. Group work is a cornerstone of the programme, encouraging students to learn from one another while tackling real-world problems. Innovative teaching methodologies, including blended learning and flipped classrooms, further enhance the learning experience. Finally, the programme culminates in a Master's thesis addressing a sustainability challenge in partnership with external organizations

“Studying sustainability challenges with amazing people while leaving abroad” says Alisia Gahabka about the master's programme.

The CHARM-EU MGCS programme thrives on inclusivity, valuing the diverse backgrounds and experiences its students bring to the table. This is evident in the journeys of the three students we met: Krista, with a bachelor's degree in biology, brings a strong scientific foundation, while Alisia, with a background in Business Administration, adds valuable business acumen. Finally, Kristiana's unique combination of Biology and Neuroscience expands the student's perspective.  

Photo: Alicia Gahabka (Germany) and Kristiana Qerosi (Italy) talking at the event as current students from the master's programme in Global Challenges for Sustainability.
Kristiana Qerosi and Alicia Gahabka current students from the master's programme in Global Challenges for Sustainability.


Benefits and challenges of the master’s programme 

Enrolling in the master’s programme unlocks a treasure trove of benefits for students. They gain invaluable knowledge from professors across five universities, each bringing unique perspectives and expertise to the table. This international immersion is further enhanced by mobility opportunities, broadening their horizons and equipping them with the essential skill of intercultural communication.  

"Suddenly, you're not just in a classroom," says Krista Trendafilova. "Students, professors, even the project stakeholders – everyone speaks different languages, and they can be from entirely different countries, even continents. It's a real immersion into a truly global environment." 

Regarding the intercultural aspect of the master’s programme, Kristiana Qerosi points out the importance of the cultural understanding

"Everyone is open-minded because they understand the importance of clear communication across cultures. It pushes you to be open and express your ideas confidently, which is crucial for the success of our group projects. It's a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience that hones your intercultural communication skills." 

Students also gain access to a dedicated newsletter packed with opportunities related to both CHARM-EU and the broader field of sustainability. Additionally, career services from all five partner universities become readily available, ensuring comprehensive support for their future endeavours. Financial concerns regarding mobility are also addressed with options like Erasmus grants and green travel grants, making the programme even more accessible. 

"The mobility aspect is challenges," admits Kristiana Qerosi, "but there's a whole support system in place to help. Erasmus grants, green travel grants for eco-friendly transportation, and even inclusion grants are available. They really make sure everyone has the opportunity to experience this international aspect of the programme." 

However, the programme also presents some challenges. Adapting to new learning environments, working effectively in transdisciplinary teams, and navigating the technical aspects of hybrid learning require a spirit of adaptability and collaboration.  While the international mobility offered by the MGCS programme is a major perk, the three students acknowledge that it also presents a challenge. Adjusting to new environments, both physically and academically, can be difficult. However, the programme fosters a strong sense of community. Since all students participate in the mobility programme, they face these challenges together. 

“It is hard to adjust to new environments, but everyone is doing the mobility, so you are in it together and people are really supportive” says Alisia Gahabka.


Joint diploma and career opportunities 

Upon graduation, students receive a joint degree recognized by all five partner universities, a true testament to their european learning experience.


Krista Trendafilova (Bulgaria), graduated students of the second edition of the master's programme.
Krista Trendafilova, graduated students of the second edition of the master's programme. 



“It introduces the complexity of being a European citizen not just from one country” says Krista Trendafilova.

This programme prepares students for a successful career in the ever-growing field of sustainability while fostering a network of like-minded individuals from across Europe. 

"The Master’s programme in Global Challenges for Sustainability is a springboard to endless possibilities," reflects Alisia Gahabka. "It opens doors to international careers in sustainability and sustainable development, from policy opportunities to private sector innovation. The programme equips you with such a broad skillset that choosing your future path can be the hardest part!" 


If you are interested in applying to this programme, the application is open until tomorrow March 20, 2024. If there is still availability for the fourth edition, an extraordinary round of applications will be open.