2007 is also a year of celebration for the HfG’s international activities. For the last twenty years, in the context of the EU sponsored Erasmus program, students have been able to study at a partner university in Europe. At the beginning, two to three participants took advantage of this every year – in the meantime up to ten HfG students a year use this possibility. A total of 101 HfG students have studied abroad since 1987 and the Erasmus program has become the most successful supporter of student mobility, even despite other programs having been developed and used.
Over the years, the circle of partner universities has continuously changed based on new contacts and adaptation to exchange students’ actual interests. In the summer semester 2007, the HfG had fourteen partner universities in France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Poland, Estonia, Great Britain, Norway and Switzerland; we also continue to have friendly relations with many of our earlier exchange partners.
Even in the age of Internet and e-mail, international collaboration develops best on the basis of personal contacts. For many years, we met with our Erasmus partners on a yearly basis and each time in a different European university. This was of essential importance for a well-grounded student advisory service. John Butler, the coordinator of the Exeter Network (one of the first and certainly the lar-gest art university network within the Erasmus program) organized the conferences until a change in the sponsorship guidelines led to the discontinuation of Erasmus networks to make way for bi-lateral agreements. Because networks, however, are indestructible, the HfG has been a member of the ELIA (European League of Institutes of the Arts) since its foundation in 1990 and since 2006 also a member of Cumulus, an organization of art and design universities also founded in 1990 whose focus lies in professional cooperation between members and the support of international mobility.
Meetings with the ELIA board, beginning in 1995, inspired the creation of the first program for a joint development of curriculum in artistic subjects. The HfG’s represent-ative in this venture is Peter Baum and includes five other participants from art universities in Iceland, Spain, France, England and Germany. Some of these partners also participated in the CrossMediaLab under the director-ship of the current President Prof. Bernd Kracke, when in 2000 it initiated and conducted an international art competition for the Deutsche Bank with the title “Identity.”
The possibilities can be even further expanded for the HfG to conduct international events in Offenbach in partnership with the above-mentioned organizations. At the internationally attended conference on the topic of “Bologna” and also in our application for the 10th ELIA Biennial Conference, the privileged geographic location of the university became clear. It is located in the center of Europe with a 35-minute direct connection to the largest airport on the continent and is 16 minutes away from a hub of national and European high-speed train routes. A refreshing contrast to the otherwise off-off image of Offenbach – but that belongs in another text.
Dr. Vera Sponheimer-Bram