Campus - 08.12.2017 - 00:00 

GSERM to cooperate with EAFIT Medellín for the first time in 2018

The University of St.Gallen has been offering an English-language summer school ever since 2013: the Global School in Empirical Research Methods (GSERM). The existing cooperation ventures with Oslo and Ljubljana will be complemented by a partnership with EAFIT in Medellín (Colombia) from December 2018. An interview with Hans-Joachim Knopf.

8 December 2017. GSERM was launched at the HSG in 2013. More than 30 generic method courses are offered in the space of three weeks. Participants come from more than 50 nations worldwide. Andreas Herrmann, Professor of Business Administration with special focus on Research Methods (ICI-HSG) is GSERM’s Academic Director. Dr. Hans-Joachim Knopf is the Executive Director of GSERM.

Dr Knopf, GSERM cooperates with various countries. Why are international partnerships so important for the summer school?

For one thing, we nearly exceeded capacity with about 300 participants as early as 2015 since we wanted to make affordable accommodation available to participants who were not local. The semester here ends in late May; properties for international participants are therefore not available before June. At the same time, the great US-American method summer school ICPSR (Ann Arbor, Michigan) with more than 1,000 participants already starts in late June. Since we recruit many excellent teachers who also teach at ICPSR, we only have the brief time window in June, in which we also clash with central examinations at the HSG in terms of rooms. A reinforcement of visibility and further expansion was therefore only feasible by looking at other destinations. Owing to the success of GSERM, this is what happened. The idea of a Global School in Empirical Research Methods also included the aspect of offering high-quality method courses all the year round, which we have almkost succeeded in doing with GSERM Oslo (January), GSERM St.Gallen (June), GSERM Ljubljana (August) and GSERM Medellín (December).

Cooperation with EAFIT in Medellín (Colombia) will start from December 2018. What significance does this have for the Latin and South American market?

It is a great concern of the President’s Board to enhance the visibility of our two hubs in Singapore (the Singapore hub has been established as the St.Gallen Institute of Management in Asia, SGI, by now) and São Paulo and to make use of their local networks. Various talks took place in Brazil. Then an opportunity arose with our partner university EAFIT in Medellín because it is very much interested in our programme. With this commitment in Latin America, we will not only reinforce the visibility of the hub but also export a successful product.

What is the basis of GSERM’s success?

GSERM does not compromise on the quality of its method courses. We recruit teachers who are not only experts in their fields but also excellent university teachers. Research methods are often felt to be boring by doctoral students because they are communicated in a boring manner. We have therefore noticed that methodological training for doctoral students can be improved. Proper application of methodological knowledge is not only enormously important in research, however, but also in corporate life (keyword: Big Data). GSERM has opted for one-week, intensive block seminars. Participants are able to extend their methodological knowledge enormously within a week and still earn 4 ECTS if they pass an individual written examination. Within the same week, we also offer an additional attractive social programme to ensure that besides learning, participants will not miss out on the networking aspect and on fun. Above and beyond the other aspects mentioned, this is bound to be a guarantee for the success of our programme. The approx. 300 participants in St.Gallen come from more than 50 nations worldwide – everyone is represented from the US to Australia. Our teachers teach at reputable universities. The high degree of internationality of students and teachers is not only a valuable asset in view of university accreditation but also contributes to our participants’ networking activities. This has already resulted in some research papers and international cooperation ventures between GSERM participants.

Who is the GSERM programme aimed at?

Since our courses are generic method courses, they are interesting for participants from different academic disciplines. Thus psychology students sit next to students of political science, medicine or management in one and the same course, for example. They are all united by their interest in precisely this research method. This leads to a particular cross-fertilisation since in this way, students also learn about possible applications of the method in other subjects and thus have to look beyond their own discipline. However, our participants are not only recruited from among students: postdocs, professors and practitioners with the relevant academic degrees also attend our courses with enthusiasm. Our courses are often in tune with the times: in June 2018, we will not only offer a course on Data Mining in St.Gallen, but also two courses on Machine Learning in R (Introduction and Advanced) and Unstructured Data Analysis. For the last two years, we have also cooperated with ICPSR – incidentally the only cooperation venture that ICPSR has ever entered into – and will offer a joint workshop on Model Implied Instrumental Variables headed by Professor Kenneth Bollen (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). We are very pleased with this cooperation venture.

Photo: GSERM

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