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Ian Manners, photo.

Ian Manners


Ian Manners, photo.

The International Active Learning Space


  • Ian Manners


  • Joyce Kling
  • Laura Perez Skardhamar

Summary, in English

For me, internationalisation is a learning outcome, not just about international mobility. It is about ensuring that students actively participate in a learning experience that prepares them for a world that is more and more internationally and interculturally connected - that both Danish and non-Danish students receive the basic international and intercultural skills and knowledge they need in current society.

The English-language masters’ seminars I teach at the Department of Political Science are international in terms of students and teacher, but they are also Active Learning seminars. The participants are a mixture of Danish and international exchange students. Active Learning (AL) is a student-centred learning pedagogy where students are encouraged to both learn through activities and to reflect on those learning activities.

All of the seminars I teach address international topics, ranging from European Union foreign policy, through glocal environmental governance, to global public governance. Thus the participation of international students is an important factor in the design and success of an internationalised AL approach. Here the difference between international mobility and internationalised learning become crucial – in traditional teacher-centred lectures and seminars students tend to cluster into language groups.

AL uses the diversity of international students as a learning resource, so I insist on breaking the language clusters up into multinational activity groups. Danish and non-Danish students (and sometimes teachers) rarely speak to each other or learn each other’s names. In the international AL spaces I create, students must work together on joint tasks which require interaction to address tasks and integration in order to benefit from the multinational activity groups.

Planning AL tasks is time consuming, but also a joy. I take care and attention over how students will learn by doing the tasks, and how the mixed-nationality groups can benefit from their diverse experiences. The joy is to be found in thinking through the material and activities which students will find both challenging and interesting. With an internationalised seminar I am pushed even further to use material that reflects the diversity of the group, whether it is Danish, European, or non-European.

I achieve active participation and engagement in my seminars through the assignment of learning activities which require preparation and participation of all students in multinational groups. Examples of learning activities include jigsaw learning, documentary and film analyses, theme-based learning, and experiential activities. In all of these activities Danish and international students work in mixed groups and engage with each other while I guide their participation.

For all the pleasures of witnessing students grow from passive consumers to active learners, there are a number of challenges, most notably the initial reluctance of students and staff to realise the benefits of AL. However, those students that complete the seminar soon become vocal advocates of international AL.

Ultimately, enriching student learning through immersing Danish and international students in an international AL space is, for me, the best way of ensuring an internationalised learning outcome, rather than just international mobility.


  • Department of Political Science

Publishing year







Reflections and Teaching Experiences from the International Classroom

Document type

Report chapter


University of Copenhagen


  • Political Science


  • International active learning space
  • Active Learning
  • student-centred pedagogy




  • Active Learning in Higher Education