Press releases of Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF)

Breaking New Ground

Public Conference in Transformation Studies Program Doubles as Student Examination

"Breaking new ground" can have a range of different meanings: dismantling old structures, challenging contradictions, the emergence of new societal forms. Buds can also break open to become blossoms.

"Breaking New Ground" as a Theme of the Degree Program

Over three days, students in the master's program in Transformation Studies at Europa-Universität Flensburg gave lectures in the Flensburg city center, focusing on socio-ecological transformations and the various interpretations of "breaking new ground." 

In his opening speech, program head Prof. Dr. Matthias Schmelzer pointed out that the four meanings of "breaking new ground" align well with the themes of the degree program. He emphasized the importance of dismantling the old, unsustainable structures of the imperial lifestyle in order to allow sustainable alternatives - many of which are already emerging as Nowtopias - to burst forth like flower blossoms. The program also addresses the contradictions between different approaches, such as green growth or post-growth, and encourages active engagement and collaboration in various places to build a more sustainable, equitable, and less oppressive world.

Cities of solidarity, degrowth and start-ups, indigenous knowledge in ecology

Presenting on topics like solidarity cities, degrowth as a new start-up paradigm, the role of indigenous knowledge in new ecology, sand replenishment near Sylt, and overcoming the human-animal dualism in literature, 21 master's students explored the theme of "breaking new ground" from Tuesday to Thursday. They addressed legal transformations, alternative economic models, and issues of power and dominion in the context of socio-ecological crises like the climate crisis.

An exam format determined by content

Uniquely, the students' presentations - which they gave in free and public event at the Danish Library or former Sultan market - were also part of their examination. Each fall semester, third-semester students have four months to plan, organize, and execute the "Shaping the Future" conference, including lectures, catering, and a supporting program. Dr. Maike Böcker, the program coordinator, highlighted in her opening speech that the choice of examination format was deliberate: "It reflects the subject matter of their master's studies. Content and format converge in this examination. Current socio-ecological crises call for action, and transformation cannot occur in isolation; it requires collective negotiation. It's about bringing together different resources and competencies, enduring conflicts, and engaging in controversies. It's about developing and pursuing visions and paths."

A cooperative and mutually respectful approach

The students developed and implemented visions in organizing the conference. "In our approach to organizing the conference, we practiced solidarity and appreciation among ourselves. We also made decisions on the basis of a consensus procedure. Overall, this helped us navigate the four months successfully, always supporting each other. This is also why we could offer a diverse conference program to everyone involved" explained Transformation Studies student Lara Schimpf.

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