Message from the Dean - Start of the Summer Term 2021
First, I sincerely hope that you, your family, and your friends are fine and continue to weather these difficult times with all the strength you have demonstrated in the last year. Second, welcome back to the summer semester!
"Ah! there is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." is a piece of advice given to Jane Austen’s Emma. Now, in this third virtual semester, this claim might seem more and more cynical, but alas, it goes on: “It is much more advisable to mix in the world in a proper degree.” Unfortunately, the “proper degree” in pandemic times is to stay home - and I do hope that you can still subscribe to the first part of Austen’s advice. At least some of the time.
However, with the vaccination campaign picking up speed and spring about to start, the outlook is getting brighter and the light at the end of a tunnel is clearly visible. Still, let us not be lured into a sense of false comfort. We are still in a difficult pandemic situation, and circumstances require a particularly cautious and responsible course of action.
There is no hope for an imminent end to online teaching during the summer semester. Be careful when reading and interpreting some statements from other universities and their coverage in the press. We will not be returning to on-site classes employing so-called “intelligent testing strategies” in the near future.
Let me provide some context. We did have many on site teaching formats over the last year at LMU, too. However, this only applied to classes that cannot be digitized, such as laboratory classes in the life sciences. These are the ones that will be augmented by testing strategies. For the social sciences, the cost/benefit ratio of on- vs. off-site formats is a lot less favorable: While we thoroughly dislike online teaching, we are able to implement it fairly easily, unlike some of the sciences that have to rely on on-site facilities.
Additionally, universities are, and arguably should be, a lower priority than hospitals, schools, many workplaces and probably also cultural institutions to roll-out testing based safety concepts. If this changes and we can establish on-site formats, we will certainly do so. Believe me, the teaching faculty misses on-site teaching at least as much as you do! However, we will not act irresponsibly, irrespective of external pressures and contrary to some - I find reprehensible - examples I have seen in the last months.
Let me also add that we plan our teaching with you in mind. We place priority on providing you with reliable plans to ensure that students can progress smoothly with their studies and are not facing haphazard changes due to short-term changes in the pandemic situation. Furthermore note that the Corona regulation within the study rules - referring to e.g. the “Regelstudienzeit” - that were put in place for the last two semesters have been extended for this summer semester, too. So there is no need to worry.
Finally, following Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words at his first inauguration “[...] let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Though this is still a dire time, I clearly see an end to this ordeal in front of us. I sincerely expect, given that there are no mutations invalidating the vaccination efforts, to see us return to the majority of our on-site teaching formats in the winter term.
Let’s follow this path. Let’s continue to work together, appreciating each other's efforts and problems, to also make it through this hopefully last stretch of this pandemic, until we can “mix in the world” again.
Head of the Department of Economics