Annual Meeting 2023 (21.-22.09.2023)


Democracy building and civil society in the context of sustainable development: What impact do universities have in their region?

Also this year, the university network Education through Responsibility will host an annual conference and thus offers a platform to network as actors across universities and civil society and to discuss and further develop holistic educational and research approaches. In 2023, the University of Applied Sciences for Sustainable Development Eberswalde is looking forward to being the venue. The registration for participation can take place from mid-March. The program will be developed and communicated in due time. We are looking forward to your participation.

The focus of the annual conference is the university as a place of learning for democracy and sustainability. In times when authoritarian tendencies are evident in Germany and other countries, the development of a democratic consciousness is more important than ever. In the context of a contemporary learning culture that increasingly wants to educate students as participative citizens, critically reflecting and transformative personalities, the topics of democracy building, civil society and sustainability should therefore be given greater weight in higher education.

The challenges in metropolitan and urban areas differ from those in rural areas. Many rural regions are in danger of being left behind in the next few years by structures of general interest, digitization and economic development. Urban areas are struggling with expensive rents, air pollution, noise pollution and gentrification processes. At the same time, both rural and urban areas have to face the challenges of a socio-ecological transformation and are highly dependent on active citizen participation and a democratic strengthening of civil society. Universities should actively accompany these challenges and social transformation processes and promote the goals of sustainable development holistically in research, teaching and transfer.

Democracy education and approaches oriented towards the common good, such as service learning, social entrepreneurship or community partnerships, can be well integrated into a sustainable practice- and society-oriented teaching and are important building blocks for social-ecological transformation research. Students learn about active, integrated problem-solving in social, cultural, ecological and economic fields of action and apply the skills they have acquired during their studies directly in the context of practice-related engagements. This results in lively new teaching formats and research designs that are oriented towards a holistic ethic and in which people understand the environment as an equal-ranking co-environment and develop innovative solutions.

The aim of the conference is to highlight, evaluate and strategically develop developments in the field of research, teaching and knowledge transfer between universities and civil society with regard to the topics outlined above.

Central guiding questions are:

  • What concrete goals and approaches can be used to shape the transfer of knowledge between civil society and universities? What are the current research results in this field?
  • How can the social responsibility of universities be cooperatively shaped, expanded and implemented in the course of the socio-ecological transformation?
  • Which teaching-learning formats can contribute to raising the awareness of young and older adults for democratic decision-making processes? Which didactic design parameters promise effectiveness?

We have planned three formats for submissions and would like to invite civil society institutions in particular to participate in the content of the conference. Universities that live and breathe cooperation with civil society are explicitly called upon to fill the impulse forums.

We will develop the conference program from the submissions of the following types of contributions, supplemented by additional formats and speakers. This will then be published here.

Impulse forum – individual contributions – research papers and teaching modules (30 minutes)

They present their impulse within the framework of 15-20 minutes + 10 minutes for open questions and discussion. Individual contributions will be arranged in thematic sessions.

Hacks, posters and creative ideas (15 minutes)

Here, suitable creative forms of presentation are desired (haptic models, videos, prototypes, storytelling, preferably in connection with a poster, etc.), which have dealt with questions or challenges from the field of service learning or social transfer with playful and/or innovative solutions or have turned typical approaches on their head and developed new ideas.

Discourse Workshop (90 minutes)

In a discourse workshop, you can illuminate, discuss and deepen a common topic from at least two and at most four contributions/perspectives. Discourse workshops leave room for joint discussions and the development of results. They are moderated and allow formats from higher education and civil society to be brought together.

When organizing the discourse workshops, the program commission reserves the right to allocate contributions from the other formats in consultation with the submitters, since only in the overview of the overall submissions can any synergies in terms of content be identified. Here, in particular, an exciting exchange is to be moderated, which will reveal future collaborations and cooperations.

Registration and further information can be found on the conference website