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Interview with Dr. Sabina Rosenbergová, Lecturer at Campus Fryslân

Date:19 February 2024
Author:Erika Compatangelo
Dr. Sabina Rosenbergová, Lecturer at Campus Fryslân
Dr. Sabina Rosenbergová, Lecturer at Campus Fryslân

The journey towards one's passions is rarely a straightforward path. Dr. Sabina Rosenbergová's journey proves just that. After studying in the Czech Republic, France, and Italy, she landed at Campus Fryslân. Here, she enriches the academic community at the intersection of history, art, culture, and heritage. As an expert, she serves as a lecturer in both tracks of the Master's in Cultural Geography. Learn more about Sabina, her areas of expertise, and how she fits into the programme!

Hello Sabina! Thank you for participating in this interview. To kick things off, I'd like to offer a brief introduction to our blog-reading community, particularly for current and prospective students interested in one of our two Cultural Geography tracks. Could you share some insights into your background, academic journey, and overall expertise?

My academic journey began with my studies in history and art history in the Czech Republic. During my time at university, I eagerly used any opportunity  to study abroad via exchange programmes and traineeships and thus spent several semesters in France and Italy. This experience fueled my curiosity and led me to pursue a PhD in art history in a cotutelle between La Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy and Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. In the meantime, I also served as a fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for Art History, Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome, and was a visiting scholar at CUNY in New York. These opportunities were extremely important moments for my intellectual and academic development. My doctoral research delved into historiography, examining how historical narratives and scientific disciplines, in my case art history, are shaped by political, cultural and historical influences. Contrary to common beliefs, history is not an objective collection of facts; it is a narrative that evolves over time and is passed down from one generation to the next.

Upon completing my PhD, I moved here, where my interest in cultural heritage had finally room to blossom. I have been long intrigued by the interplay between history and culture and one side and its role in the present society at the other. As a postdoc scholar, I finally have found the opportunity to explore it further. This led me to reach out to the Center for Religion and Heritage – the only research center at RUG that deals with questions related to heritage –  at the Faculty of Religion, Culture, and Society, where I expressed my interest in contributing as a research fellow. And here I am!

In addition to research, I was offered the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise as a lecturer at Campus Fryslân. Here, I taught courses on ‘Qualitative Research Methods’ and ‘Places, Regions, and Identities’, which allowed me to engage with students in meaningful ways. 

When it comes to teaching, I'm particularly drawn to the flipped classroom approach because I believe it fosters a collaborative learning environment where students actively participate in shaping their own learning process. By drawing on their real-world experiences, students contribute to a richer, more dynamic classroom experience that may not be achieved through traditional teaching methods. Plus, I get to learn a lot from them, too!

What motivated you to specialize in the field you're currently engaged in?

Initially, I have to admit that my motivation came from a somewhat negative realization. While carrying out my doctoral research, I found myself delving into complex historical topics that didn't seem to interest many people, leaving me feeling isolated. That’s when I realized that solely focusing on historical research might not be the best path for me. I wished to be more connected to the present and be part of current global discussions, with the hope of contributing to the future of our society. I looked for a way to bridge the gap between the past and the present, and cultural heritage seemed to provide that relevant connection.

What people might not notice is that academic life isn't always straightforward, and in no way easy. During my PhD, I went through a challenging period where I struggled with my mental health. Further, the transition from being a Ph.D. student into the professional world was tough, especially in the initial phase, which is characterized by a significant degree of uncertainty. However, this experience helped me grow and bounce back from adversity to find new joy and interests in my work. It also taught me that it's entirely normal to experience doubts and struggles and not having everything figured out. I believe that being open about these challenges enables us to approach our work authentically and strive to do our best, perhaps even leveraging our vulnerability as a strength.

Switching our focus to the two Master’s tracks, could you elaborate on the subjects you teach and provide insights into their key areas of focus?

I would start with Places, Regions, and Identities. My goal for this course was to help students understand the layered relationship between identity and culture within specific geographic locations and historical contexts. I also aimed to cultivate a sensitivity to cultural diversity among the students. Since it was a course in the first block, I wanted to provide a comprehensive overview to bring everyone up to speed.

Regarding Qualitative Research Methods, the course posed an interesting challenge. Initially, I noticed that some students seemed disengaged, and their feedback suggested they found the course repetitive. I decided to ask them what they needed, and they expressed a need for more ‘depth’.

Based on their input, I tried to revamp the course content. I introduced less common research methods, such as creative approaches like solicited journals, LEGO exercises, narrative mapping, urban exploration, or literary analysis. Each student then specialized in one method, becoming a reference for that particular approach within the group. Together, they collaboratively created a handbook, with each student contributing a chapter based on their chosen method. Now that the course has ended, my job is to sew these chapters together and create a handbook that they can use later on for their own thesis research projects.

What, in your perspective, distinguishes our programme and makes it especially attractive to students?

One key aspect is the strong relationship between students and lecturers. We prioritize giving individual attention to students and tailor our programmes to meet their specific interests and needs. The entire Campus Fryslân community is unique in its modernity and forward-thinking approach, offering plenty of opportunities for students to make a real impact. Additionally, our programme is continually evolving, with input from students shaping its development. 

The diverse international community of lecturers as well as students also enriches the learning experience, bringing a range of backgrounds and perspectives. On top of that, being located in Leeuwarden provides a unique setting where students can explore and engage with the local community while enjoying the benefits of a global perspective. Lastly, our faculty members maintain strong connections with various stakeholders, ensuring that the education provided here is not only cutting-edge but also relevant and applicable to the region and beyond.

Is there anything else you think would be important or interesting for students to know?

One thing students may not consider initially is the sense of community and individual recognition they'll experience here. You won't be just a number in a sea of faces; instead, each student is valued and acknowledged for their unique talents and contributions. Here, you'll have the opportunity to ensure that your distinctive skills are recognized and well nurtured.

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About the author

Erika Compatangelo
Erika Compatangelo

Ciao! My name is Erika and I am the Content & Data Management Specialist of Campus Fryslân. I was born and raised in Italy and have recently graduated from the MSc in Climate Adaptation Governance. I have been in charge of the blog and all its content since October 2023. My aim is to make this virtual space serve as a logbook for the Campus Fryslân community and as a welcoming introduction for all newcomers. Here, you will find stories from the people of Campus Fryslân to get a taste of what studying here is like and the exciting opportunities it comes with!