· CEU UCH and AUAS students jointly analyze the different media coverage in northern and southern Europe of the EU’s response to the economic crisis derived from the pandemic

· This new international collaborative project has also reinforced the soft skills of university students, key to their professional future

Are we on the same page? That is the question that has inspired the recent COIL of the Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera (CEU UCH) with Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS).

This new collaborative international learning project has challenged CEU UCH Marketing and AUAS Business Administration students to reflect on the influence of the social and cultural context on the news published by the media.

Specifically, the COIL has focused on the different media coverage that southern and northern Europe are giving to one of the most current topics: the EU’s response to the economic crisis derived from the pandemic caused by Covid-19.

The COIL has analyzed the weight of cultural prejudices in the press and the need to strengthen the idea of community

For a month, students from both universities have worked in mixed teams to analyze the news in different European media. And they have done so by applying the ethical code of journalism, the Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists, and considering the influence of the local perspective on the story.

This study has not only allowed students to verify the role of cultural prejudices in journalistic communication but also the need to strengthen the idea of community and European citizenship.

A bonus of new skills

To this end, young people from Holland and Spain, in addition to summarizing the findings of their research, have drawn up various recommendations for adequate informative coverage of the events analyzed in a video that they have presented to students and professors from both universities.

A shot of the joint work carried out by university students from both countries

But what CEU UCH and AUAS students have learnt goes far beyond the informational treatment of the media to the EU’s response to Covid-19. As in all COIL projects, they have reinforced soft skills such as teamwork, interculturality and effective communication in another language, which are key to their professional future.

This is how Daniella De León has experienced it. “This COIL has helped me understand –through experience– how complex and varied the world is, how our context really influences our relationships and that the key to truly rich and creative work is precisely the union of our differences and peculiarities. It is not a matter of focusing on what makes us different but on all the things in which we are alike,” says the second-year student of Marketing and Public Relations at CEU UCH.

“Connecting and working with students from different countries is exciting. Who had imagined that it could that be easy, just a click”

The future marketer, of Guatemalan nationality, emphasizes the opportunity provided by this project to broaden her horizons even more and to collaborate with people beyond the border. “The idea of interacting and working with students of different countries is exciting and intriguing; who would have imagined that it could that be easy: just a click away”, she affirms.

Breaking down prejudices

The Marketing student, who has improved her knowledge of good practices in the media and Europeanism, highlights another fundamental lesson: “What I value the most is the possibility of learning to express myself and understand others, finding common ground and being open to our differences. I have learned that it is important to see beyond what surrounds me, to act and decide with an open mind and an empathetic attitude”.

Daniella, of Guatemalan origin, assures that COIL has helped her understand how complex and varied the world is

“The COIL helped me to realize that every day in the media –especially in television programmes with debates or opinions– value judgments are created around people of different races, nationalities, cultures… all this from a stereotypical perspective that, rather than understanding, judges”, continues the student.

And Glover concludes that: “Fortunately, all the members of my team were open and willing to welcome and listen to the Dutch, regardless of their views, who turned out to be very nice in the end. Because no, not all Dutch are rude and curt. And no, not all Spaniards are lazy and unwilling to work.

‘By interacting with each other we manage to avoid using stereotypes, and that is key for our future work as communicators’

Her classmate Marta Navarro is also very satisfied with this experience, which, she says, “has enable me to practise English, to be less shy when speaking, to work as a team with people with whom I am not used to, as well as to see what the Dutch are like and get to know some of their customs”.

Communicating with others

Although the student is in favour of analog vs. digital meetings (“I think the experience would gain much more if the meetings were held face-to-face in one of the countries,” she says), considers this working method “fun and enriching”.

Marta Navarro, another one of the students who has participated in the COIL with Amsterdam, focuses on human relations

Regarding the development of the COIL, Marta knows well what she takes away from it: explaining our habits, customs, personal interests and celebrations, such as the Fallas, to her Dutch peers, apart from the news search.

“This was where we really saw that the method was worthwhile, because we learned from each other while communicating in a different language and with people from another country. Even if it was about issues that were not related to ethics,” she explains.

“I believe that this is how bonds are established and how to avoid using stereotypes in our future work as communicators,” concludes the CEU Marketing student.

Partnerships for learning

The professors who have promoted this COIL are also very satisfied with the development of this first collaboration, as explained by Elvira Alonso, professor of the course “Ethics of communication”, second year of Marketing at CEU UCH, which the one that has framed this initiative. A project that has also involved her fellow professor Blanca Nicasio and the professors of AUAS Eva Haug and Mónica Bueno.

Alonso is pleasantly surprised by the results of the COIL and the response of the students, and assures that “there have been very good projects, the participation has been very active and English, the working language of the project, has not been a barrier”.

‘This project has provided us with an excellent opportunity to merge culture, language and communication’

Their peers at the Dutch university talk in similar terms.

“It was a pleasure to participate in this enriching collaboration. After years of experience designing and teaching COIL classes, this has been a new experience and a great challenge since it joins three subjects. Working with Blanca and Elvira has been an excellent opportunity to merge culture, language and communication,” emphasizes Mónica Bueno.

“This COIL project has also been very significant for us, corroborates her colleague Eva Haug, because in this increasingly polarized Europe, it is essential that students participate in intercultural dialogue”.


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