Opening Week 2021: "Short terminism is inhibiting transformation"

2021-10-08 Leuphana's unique study model requires all 1400 first-semester students to deal intensively with a socially relevant topic at the beginning of their studies. This year it is called "New Deal". Because of the still ongoing Corona pandemic, the opening ceremony was broadcast live from the Central Building. The transformation researcher Prof. Dr. Maja Göpel pleaded for a paradigm shift in the economy.

Opening Week 2021 ©Jannik Sander
Opening Week 2021 ©Jannik Sander
Opening Week 2021 ©Jannik Sander

President Franklin D. Roosevelt ventured out of the Great Depression in the 1930s with a large-scale social and economic reform. "The system was so broken that the costs of maintaining it were so high that it became the role of the state to reorganise it," describes Maja Göpel. At the opening ceremony of Opening Week 2021, the transformation researcher pleaded for a new paradigm shift in the economy. Today, the focus on nature and people is abbreviated. Positive long-term perspectives are necessary to make the change to more sustainability: "A lot of short terminism is inhibiting the transformation today.“

Roosevelt opposed a monopolised and unjust system. In her presentation, Maja Göpel pointed to today's environmental crisis, which concerns more than climate change. She mentioned the loss of biodiversity, the increasing land use and the lack of water in many regions. "For the absorption of CO2 we have to build up the ecosystems that have done that traditionally", the researcher advised. The biodiversity crisis in particular cannot be solved economically: "We can put a price on molecules, but biodiversity needs space.

Until the end of the Opening Week on 15 October, the first-semester students will have the opportunity to discuss with guest speakers from science, politics and business. Leuphana has also invited Francesca Bria, President of the Italian Innovation Fund and Ambassador to the United Nations (UN-Habitat) for Digital Cities and Digital Rights, Nari Kahle, author of the book "Mobilität in Bewegung", the energy economist and DIW researcher Claudia Kemfert, the journalist Grace Blakeley (Tribune) and Bernd Ulrich from the editorial department of the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT, to provide additional impulses for the first-semester students. "At Leuphana College your studies don't just start with an Orientation Week, but with an Opening Week. You are being challenged from the very first day with possibilities to engage and to contribute. And with the question of a New Deal. In doing so we trust you," summarised Christian Brei, full-time Vice President of Leuphana.

To ensure health protection, the new students work together in small groups on campus during the Opening Week. University President Sascha Spoun wished the first-semester students "a fruitful higher education you benefit from all of your life." He urged the young people to immerse themselves in the academic world and science: "This is why you are here: going deeper. Not to stop where you used to do so. I promise you: It will be rewarding."

For the last time in his office as Lord Mayor of the Hanseatic City of Lüneburg, Ulrich Mädge welcomed the first-semester students. His term of office ends after 30 years on 31 October: "Have the courage to shape the future!" he called out to the first-semester students, quoting Federal President Frank Walter Steinmeier: "The future is not destiny."