Brain City Berlin Ambassador: Prof. Dr. Andreas M. Kaplan (ESCP Europe Berlin Campus)
Dean of ESCP Europe Berlin Campus
Andreas Kaplan started his career as a professor at ESSEC Business School and the Paris Institute of Political Studies. He then returned to his alma mater, ESCP Europe, and was elected Director of the Faculty of Marketing.
Kaplan held the office of Dean of Studies from 2014 to 2017 and was responsible for all courses of study at the university (approximately 5000 students). Since 2017, he has been the Dean of the ESCP Europe Campus Berlin.
He is especially interested in the influence of digitisation on the community. During the interview, he discusses how the digitisation of higher education will change and transform the academic landscape.
Professor Kaplan, you have been the Dean of the ESCP Europe Campus Berlin since April 2017. What are your plans as the new head of ESCP Europe in Berlin?
First of all, I am very proud and am looking forward to tackling my responsibilities as the Dean of ESCP Europe in Berlin over the next few years. ESCP Europe Business School will continue to explore current issues relevant to the economy and companies as its academic priority. It will also tackle topics such as entrepreneurship and innovation, digital transformation and sustainability and the permanent areas of focus relating to international management and the development of intercultural skills. These priorities are evident in the new degree programmes for Executive Education and in advanced education programs for management staff that set to commence this year.
Digital transformation is a key theme of our work. How will digitisation change teaching as it progresses?
I have been looking at this issue for the past two or three years, not only as a component of my research, but as part of my long-standing responsibilities within university management. I believe some things will change as far as digitisation is concerned. In fact, traditional lectures where the professor stands before students and presents their teaching material is already a thing of the past.
What does that mean? Will physical university locations cease to exist in 10 years’ time?
I do think we will see far fewer 'classic' lecture theatres as we understand them today. At any rate, doing a degree involves more than simply going to lectures. Studying means building up a network, learning team skills and working as part of a group. This is always better and more effective in real life than in a virtual environment. To that extent, there will still be physical locations, albeit in a different role to the ones they play today. Young students who grew up as ‘digital natives’ will require other forms of teaching and presentation.
What do you think this will involve?
We are dealing with a generation of students who are partly accustomed to having content presented to them in two- or three-minute YouTube videos. To that extent, online learning will be highly important in its various forms in future. We have to live up to this. In a world where knowledge and information are available from your computer or smartphone at all times, it will also become increasingly difficult to communicate to students that they need to learn content by heart in the first place. I don't want to imply here that knowledge will become superfluous, but the focus, or what we are presenting to students in terms of knowledge and skills, will definitely shift.
What do you believe this shift will involve?
In my view, interdisciplinary learning will increase in significance, as will the ability to quickly become accustomed to new content. These will become the new soft skills of the future. This is why I want to increase cooperation with other universities and higher education institutions and promote interdisciplinary exchange with areas outside the field, such as engineering or law. Another aspect that will become more important in a globalised world is intercultural exchange and cross-cultural understanding. Our university is embedded in European culture, but is home to students from around the world living in close proximity to one another. This is the part that worries me the least.
What would you say to your students as the dean of a European business college in view of current political developments? (Brexit as a keyword)
Our students and participants in executive education have one thing in common: they see Europe and globalisation as an opportunity, and value our emphasis on interculturalism at ESCP Europe. In these politically turbulent times, I believe it is imperative to involve and promote diversity, intercultural cooperation and management in public discourse. It is essential to strengthen the feeling of unity among Europeans. Europe and European thinking should have more of an impact on people’s day-to-day lives.
After all, globalisation is not exclusively a golden goose – it also has negative side effects. What would you like to communicate to your students in terms of creating a sustainable, fairer world?
In addition to intercultural exchange and mutual understanding, we try to use our courses to teach our students the importance of sustainable, fair development in an interdependent world. What we summarise today by the key phrases of 'business ethics' and 'corporate social responsibility' is one of our key components of teaching. These terms are based on imparting knowledge and acquiring skills that empower people to think and act responsibly. The term ‘responsibility’ is part of a key role. This is not just a matter for companies as higher-level institutions, but for every single individual who belongs to this institution.
You have seen much of the world and have lived in many different cities. What, in your view, sets Berlin apart?
It is difficult to compare Berlin with other cities. Berlin is a highly dynamic, tolerant city, with a contemporary pulse. When I’m in Berlin, I feel like I belong and that I’m helping to shape the city. It’s uncomplicated and offers people ample room to breathe. I love being here, and I love being able to reach parks and other green areas quickly. Hopefully that will remain the case.