Bildung: Navigating Liberty

Conference November 7th - 9th, 2019

What concepts of liberty underlie different understandings of Bildung? And how can we understand higher education in such a way that it enables and increases liberty?

An exploration of these questions links such different understandings of HE as Humboldt’s ideal of loneliness and freedom, university education from the perspective of critical theory, and the idea of liberal education with its plurality of specifications. These concepts raise the question of liberty at different levels:

  • Commitment to a free society
  • Enabling liberty as part of personal development, as an extension of an individual scope for action and decision-making
  • Liberty in the context of one's own studies
  • Liberty in research and teaching
  • Liberty as an anthropological dimension

Those aspects and understandings of higher education that look beyond narrow disciplinary boundaries, for example the Studium Generale model, the Studium Fundamentale in Witten/Herdecke, Complementary Studies at Leuphana and the models of liberal education or liberal arts education, place a particularly strong emphasis on students’ freedom and responsibility in planning their studies, and on the importance of asking the right questions and embracing uncertainties and insecurities rather than simply seeking solutions.

Leuphana firmly believes that human self-determination is both a freedom and a responsibility, and requires constant reflection on ourselves and our relationship with the world. That is why one third of the curriculum on BA programmes at Leuphana College is interdisciplinary.

The international conference at Leuphana College is focusing on the relationship between liberty and Bildung in four major keynote lectures, panel debates on individual areas and a range of other events for further discussion and exchange.