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Message from the Dean: Corona Crisis

Important Information from the Dean to all students at the Department of Economics

15.04.2020

Dear students at the Economics Department,

most importantly: I do hope you and your loved ones are safe and well! These are truly remarkable times we are experiencing and I do hope that by the somewhat drastic measures we are seeing right now we will succeed in mastering the immanent public health crisis.

Last week, LMU’s president, Professor Bernd Huber, reached out to you with a message briefly describing the state of affairs. In any case, I think it is now the time to share with you our department’s current state of information and contingent planning:

To start, let me remind you that we pass on all relevant official information that we receive along to you asap. In addition, your first stop in acquiring information should be LMU's corona information center:

https://www.en.uni-muenchen.de/news/press-services/corona_information/index.html

Information on specific organisational Aspects of your studies (deadlines, maximum writing periods, handing in of theses, etc.) is continuously updated and provided on the website of the LSF:

https://www.isc.uni-muenchen.de/pruef_org/index.html#corona_en

What is there is official and what is official is collected there.

Whilst we are still in the midst of the crises, it is time to think about how to tackle the coming challenges.

I will not elaborate on the current rules for moving in public as I take that all of you are aware of them. I also do not expect them to change before the end of the easter holidays, i.e. April 20 - which is also the start date for the teaching term – and probably not for a while thereafter.

Which brings me to the topic that is likely already on many of your minds: What will happen in terms of teaching in the summer term?

The one thing that is clear is, that the summer term "will take place". However, this will almost certainly not mean that we will see business as usual (more below). It just sums up the determination that we are expected to find solutions to the challenges ahead of us and deliver "our services" as well as possible conditional on the circumstances.

In assessing all this, always keep in mind the following: This is an extraordinary situation - and everyone knows this. Rules and regulations that have been set for normal times are not fit for this situation and we will have to find creative solutions for various problems. That does NOT mean that now everything goes but that we will have to find solutions that adjust for the setting and balance conflicting constraints and goals.

Now let's turn to the organization of the summer term: As I stated above, no one knows as of now which scenario will play out. While it may be possible to have in-person sessions in small classes starting at some point during May, it is very unlikely that we will be able to teach standard in-person formats for any period during the summer term for bigger classes. In addition, for a considerable time there will be special rules and restrictions in place to protect risk groups also in smaller classes.

Given this, we have decided to move all classes to virtual formats and are already busy producing these contents.

For classes with a strong interactive component, mainly the seminars, we hope to be able to run them in in-person from in the second half of the term (in particular given their smaller group size). Also for other small classes it may be possible to move to in-person formats at some point during the term. Having said this, note that also in planning these in-person formats we have a particular focus on the needs and restrictions of those that are particularly adversely affected by the pandemic.

The respective chairs will provide more detailed information about the respective courses in the LSF. You can access this information there at the latest at the beginning of the semester. There you will also find the information on how to register for the classes. We now require registration for all courses. Make sure you register for the classes you want to take as only this ensures that you are on the relevant distribution lists and receive relevant information particularly for the virtual formats.

Regarding the virtual formats, we focus on asynchronous formats, sometimes enriched with interactive elements. On the one hand, this takes into account capacity constraints on the part of the Münchner Wissenschaftsnetz, on the other hand, the situation of students who do have no or insufficient web access to participate in synchronous (interactive) formats. On LMU’s side planning is already underway, e.g. by opening CIP pools, to support students in such a situation.

As you probably know by now, the ministry has extended the lecture period for the summer semester until August 7th. However, this does not necessarily mean that all courses will go on until August 7th. The additional 2 weeks only give us the flexibility to deal with the fall-out of the pandemic. For our faculty we envision (most) courses to be completed by July 24th.

Regarding examinations, we cannot say exactly yet what the exact situation will be. Obviously, there are intricate logistical challenges involved which have to be coordinated on the university level. It is to be expected that examinations will have to be held either under strict conditions or in an alternative form.

In general, examinations taken in the summer semester do count, and all students are strongly advised to take the examinations which are offered in order to avoid a delay in the progress of their studies. Of course we are aware that this will not be possible for everyone due to the crisis, be it due to their personal situation or due to technical obstacles, and this will certainly be taken into account when assessing cases.

The libraries are closed to the public until April 19, 2020. It can be assumed that these closures cannot be lifted immediately, even at the beginning of the lecture period. Work is currently underway to expand the range of digital services offered.

In terms of what we are doing and how we are deciding, let me remind you that our guiding principle in tackling the crisis is to meet two priorities:

  • Allow our advanced students to finish their degrees without undue delay.
  • Ensure that our early stage students get the methods training that they require to complete their studies thereafter.

In case we have to curtail or ration resources, everything that does not fulfil these objectives has to take the backseat.

Many of us are dealing with a very challenging and multi-facetted problem. So in particular in the departmental leadership our plates are pretty full. So expect (and understand) that responses to individual questions will take time (and remember, for many of these questions the answer will always be similar: We just do not know yet).

Let's hope we will weather this storm and come out stronger and more tightly connected.

Stay safe, stay healthy. I very much look forward to seeing you soon!

Florian Englmaier, Head of Department