DAAD Prize: Laura Eberhöfer - Oedipus and the Climate Change

2023-12-04 The 22-year-old Italian has been recognised for her commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. In South Tyrol, she was involved in Fridays for Future, stood up for climate protection on the theatre stage and is active in various initiatives at Leuphana.

Award winner Laura Eberhöfer being honored by President Sascha Spoun and Vice President Jörg Terhechte ©Leuphana
Award winner Laura Eberhöfer being honored by President Sascha Spoun and Vice President Jörg Terhechte

Laura Eberhöfer first learned more about sustainability in 7th grade: "We talked about child labour, working conditions and fair trade in class." During her year abroad in Belgium, Fridays for Future took off and she took part in her first FFF demo in Brussels. At her school in Liège, she got to know the emergency aid organisation Oxfam through a sustainable snack shop run by and for pupils.

Laura Eberhöfer thought more and more about her own consumer behaviour. Once the Italian had done her A-levels, it was clear that she wanted to study sustainability sciences and set about looking for a suitable university. She discovered the Global Environmental and Sustainability Studies (GESS) programme at Leuphana College. "The combination of social and natural sciences appealed to me. I wanted to broaden my horizons," explains Laura Eberhöfer. Germany was an obvious choice for the South Tyrolean in terms of language. German is her mother tongue, Italian her second language.

Laura Eberhöfer only applied to Leuphana: "I was impressed by the study model with a major and minor and the opportunity to take courses outside my chosen discipline in the complementary programme." For example, she wrote a children's book on the topic of sustainability in a seminar together with a fellow student. In it, the wind blows flower seeds onto a coal wasteland and brings nature back.

Laura Eberhöfer is studying spatial sciences in her minor and is specialising in social sciences in her major. She would like to write her bachelor's thesis on the connection between gender and the energy transition.

Inspired by her involvement at Leuphana, she joined "Fridays For Future South Tyrol" during the coronavirus semester: Together with other activists, she participated in a theatre project with the Vereinigte Bühnen Bozen: Oedipus is blind - to the melting glaciers and the climate crisis. "We activists shouted our slogans from the FFF demos in the play," recalls Laura Eberhöfer. She organised protest marches, wrote texts and gave speeches for the South Tyrolean FFF movement.

During her semester abroad at the University of Lausanne, she focussed on plant life in the Alps. She was also a tutor for inorganic chemistry at Leuphana: "My degree programme gave me a broad insight into sustainability science," says Laura Eberhöfer. She will soon be completing her degree. She would then like to specialise in the topic of adaptation to the consequences of climate change in her master's degree and, if it works out, study in Lund, Sweden.
When Laura Eberhöfer leaves Leuphana, she will also have to say goodbye to many student initiatives: "Getting involved was one of the reasons I came to Leuphana," says the 22-year-old. The student was briefly involved in Janun's consumption-critical city tours. At the Edible Campus, she and others tended the beds in the biotope garden. The Koko shopping community in Rote Feld, right next to the "Zwiebel" clothes swap centre, offers its members vegan, regional and unpackaged food. Laura Eberhöfer is in charge of Instagram at the umbrella organisation for student initiatives.
The student is travelling to Uganda in March 2024. She will spend five months volunteering as a climate justice activist through EU Humanitarian Aid Volunteers.
Laura Eberhöfer will miss Leuphana: "Here I have found a community that lives and learns sustainably."

The DAAD Prize for outstanding achievements by international students at German universities is endowed with 1000 euros.