Leuphana Conference Week 2014: What constitutes the Good Life?

Lüneburg. Does the good life always include justice? Pope Francis challenged society with his call for a simple life beyond consumption and capitalism. Students at Leuphana University Lüneburg have taken up the topic in their “Leuphana Conference for sustainable living 2014.” Their central question: What counts as the good life in our society? Important guests from across Germany and Leuphana’s 1,700 first-semester students formulated their answers from the 25th to the 27th of February. The event opened with a discussion between Hamburg’s Bishop Dr. Hans-Jochen Haschke and the journalist Adrienne Goehler about our changing understanding of what makes the good life.    

In the conference week, students present the projects they worked on during the Leuphana Semester. During the course of the over 60 different project seminars that made up the module, “Responsibility in Science,” the next generation of academics created, together with their teachers, over 350 program items. They ranged from podium discussions to workshops as well as to individual presentations. Distinguished guests from the world of politics, society, business and science entered into a dialogue with the students, while providing them with insights into their own fields of endeavor. Among them was the philosopher and pleasure theorist, Prof. Dr. Robert Pfaller from Vienna, Dr. Ursula Hudson of Slow Food and the journalist, Dr. Franz Alt, long-time moderator of the Politmagazine Report. 

The Leuphana Conference, the Good Life, was also interested in the practical side of things: organizations such as Doctors without Frontiers, Grassroots.tv, and Viva con Agua de Sankt Pauli e.V. joined the program with experimental games, art installations and exhibits.

Good experiences - this is what the conference, with its varied program and formats, offered the general public from the Lüneburg region: the culinary performance artist Wam Kat & Fleming Kitchen put on a soup disco. The action artist, Hermann Josef Hack, worked with students to install a Climate Refugee Camp. Many participants were drawn to the open-air game field because of its vegetarian food offerings and its forum under a circus big tent.
Further information is available here.

Background

First-semester students from every discipline designed the conference as the Leuphana Semester’s grand finale. It follows an interdisciplinary concept that is singular in Germany.  The four modules, “Responsibility in Science,“ “Science uses Methods,” “Knowledge makes History,” and “Science has Limits” provided the students with an introduction into the sciences. They learned about other disciplinary fields, became familiar with various different methodological perspectives and acquired the basics of scientific work. The conference was the high point for the Leuphana Semester, in which all students presented the results of their work through lectures, exhibits and round table discussions. The overall focus was on “sustainable development.”  The students worked out its individual facets in the different project seminars.