Student Portrait: Jannis Köster – “You decide!”

2020-06-02 A speech at the information day convinced the 23-year-old at Leuphana College to start the study Individuale. Now he is writing his bachelor thesis and reports on his experiences. This semester the Open Day of the Studium Individuale online will take place on June 18th.

A promise of freedom brought Jannis Köster to the Leuphana. At the college's information day, the then 19-year-old got a taste of several lectures. He thought environmental sciences sounded exciting. Cultural studies appealed to him. But he listened particularly carefully to the presentation of the Studium Individuale: ",You decide!"`, said the lecturer, referring to the freedom of choice that comes first in studying," recalls Jannis Köster. The high school graduate at the time found this saying both provocative and exciting. "Today I can't imagine how it would have been if I hadn't studied as freely as I did."

The 23-year-old is currently writing his bachelor's thesis in Individual Studies. It is another piece of the puzzle to answer his question: How can sustainability transformations be implemented in our modern society? During the course of his or her studies, each student in the Bachelor's programme "Studium Individuale" chooses a question that he or she would like to have answered. The courses are chosen freely from the complete range of courses offered by the university. "It was important to me to look at the topic of sustainability from as many angles as possible," says Jannis Köster. He studied the basics from both the social and natural sciences, and dealt with climatology as well as philosophical freedom considerations. Accounting is also part of his range of subjects. "While I was at school, I spent a year in America. At that time the father of a friend of mine advised me "Learn to read balance sheets, then you'll understand a lot more about the world. That's the only way you can make a difference', remembers Jannis Köster. Even if it is very challenging at times to plan your studies responsibly and on your own, the student does not regret his choice: "I simply do not know the feeling of not wanting to go to university. I chose every course deliberately."

The studies also changed Jannis Köster personally: "I'm becoming increasingly political." When he's not in class, he reads a lot. He was influenced by the books of globalization critic and climate activist Naomi Klein. He is writing his bachelor's thesis under Dave Abson, assistant professor of sustainability economics and assessment. Using a case study on Zimbabwe, Köster examines the extent to which market-oriented structural change programmes have influenced the development of prosperity in the formerly left-wing oriented country. "The results speak against a purely market-economy orientation to increase prosperity and for the importance of promoting social components," explains Köster. He is interested in how all people can lead a good life without overusing the planet's resources. Köster says that his studies have already provided a good answer to his fundamental question about a sustainable society: "But my path is not over, yet. Jannis Köster wants to continue it at Leuphana with a master's degree.

Student Jannis Köster // This semester the Open Day of the Studium Individuale will take place online on the 18th of June. ©Jannis Köster
Student Jannis Köster // This semester the Open Day of the Studium Individuale will take place online on the 18th of June.