LMU’s Summer Schools
More than a just a mini-practical
Vacation time means no lectures? Not at LMU! The University’s Summer Schools attracts students from all over the world, who come to discover new fields and learn new skills – and many of them return to Munich for full-time studies.
While his classmates are on holidays, have taken summer jobs or are on internships, Luca Mascheroni from the University of Milan decided to spend his summer at school this year. He chose to attend LMU’s International Summer Research Program in Nanoscience because he was intrigued by the topics covered in the course. The Summer School is organized by the Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM), one of LMU’s highly regarded Clusters of Excellence. During the course, Luca is exploring ways to improve the specificity of compounds used in cancer chemotherapy. The basic idea is to prevent these drugs from attacking healthy cells by finding ways to direct them specifically to malignant cells. “This approach should ensure that the cytotoxic action of chemotherapeutic agents is restricted to their real targets – the tumor cells,” he says. Luca is particularly pleased that his experimental data are being passed to the pharmacologists at the NIM, who will go on to evaluate how well the novel targeting mechanisms work in practice. Some 60 research groups, based at various institutions located in the Munich area and comprising specialists representing a wide range of disciplines, contribute to the work of the NIM. Its overall aim is to develop innovative nanosystems for applications in data processing and biomedicine. “And of course, there is more to the Summer School than just working in the lab,” says Luca. “I think it’s great that one gets to know so many international students here too.”
Trial run for future LMU students
The Summer School concept makes it possible for students from abroad to get to know third-level institutions in other countries work – and many summer-school graduates later return to LMU to pursue further studies. Anna Sanina from Estonia, who took part in the International Summer Research Program in Nanoscience two years ago, is a case in point. By the end of the course, Anna had made up her mind that, on completion of her Bachelor degree in Russia, she would apply for a place at LMU. “I attended the Summer School partly to find out whether I would like to study full-time in Germany,” she says. “And, above all, I learned that many of the typical clichés about the Germans are untrue, and that Munich is a fascinating city in which I would like to live.” Anna is now doing a Master’s degree in Materials Science at LMU. – For the Summer Schools not only introduce their students to state-of-the-art research, they also provide opportunities for them to get to know the city and its environs, and even to venture further afield. Many of the programs include excursions to places near and far, like Neuschwanstein, Salzburg or Berlin.
Die NIM Summer School in which Luca and Anna enrolled is only one of the summer courses available at LMU. Many of these are organized as constituent parts of the Munich Summer University (MISU) – which includes Summer Academies devoted to topics in the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and the Humanities, but also offers various language courses as well as stimulating and diverting leisure activities. Other examples confront participants with challenging research problems in areas as diverse as Electronic Media, European Studies or International Law. As its title suggests, the Summer School on Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students held at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy has a very specific objective in view. The primary aim of the course, which course is organized by Drs. Catherine Herfeld, Milena Ivanova und Dr. Kristina Liefke, is to inspire women to learn the methods used and tackle the problems that arise in analytical philosophy. “For the past several years, a debate has been going on among academic philosophers on why women are so significantly underrepresented in the field of formal philosophy. For example, even now, women philosophers are far less likely than their male colleagues to be invited to give keynote talks at conferences,” Herfeld explains. “With our Summer School on Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students, we hope to motivate young students of philosophy and mathematics to take an interest in the subject.”
These efforts have certainly borne fruit in Gelareh Shahpar’s case. Gelareh is studying Philosophy at Berlin’s Humboldt University, and came across the Summer School because she was interested in getting to know more about Mathematics. “There are certain concepts that are central to Mathematical Philosophy which do not get sufficient attention in my philosophy courses,” she explains. “On the other hand, I had always found maths to be a very intimidating subject. But I had no hesitation in applying for this Summer School, which is explicitly intended for female philosophers.”
Courses for LMU students too
LMU’s Summer Schools are not just for people attending regular courses at universities elsewhere in Germany or abroad. LMU students can also take advantage of the broad range of programs on offer – to learn more about ongoing political developments in the Middle East, for instance. “We set up the Middle East Summer School in order to extend the spectrum of topics covered by the Faculty of Political Science“, says Dr. Rene Rieger of the Munich-Vienna Middle East Summer School. “And the cross-border Summer School gives LMU students a unique opportunity to visit some of the many international organizations based in Vienna,” he adds. Linda Berger, who is actually studying Economics, is one of the lucky ones this year. “The course gives me the chance to take a concentrated look at the region – which I would not otherwise have, given that my major interest lies elsewhere,” she says.