Leuphana ...auf dem Weg! - Catalyst for strategic teaching development at Leuphana

2021-05-10 The project funded in the federal-state programme "Quality Pact for Teaching" focused on teaching and quality development at Leuphana in two funding phases. At the end of the almost ten-year term, Dr. Julia Webersik, operational project manager and head of the teaching service, takes stock of the success. Funding for follow-up projects has already been applied for.

Leiterin des Lehrservice Julia Webersik ©Leuphana/Marietta Hülsmann
Head of Teaching Services Julia Webersik.

Despite the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, Leuphana was able to start the digital summer semester on time last year. This successful start in the middle of the lockdown could not be taken for granted, and the Tagesthemen reported on Leuphana's successful work at the time. The success is no coincidence: the further development of digital teaching was a focus of "Leuphana ... auf dem Weg!" (LadW), the project that, under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Markus Reihlen, acted as a catalyst for university-wide teaching and quality development and created important structures for implementing digital teaching.

Proceeding from the introduction of Leuphana's study model, which is unique to Germany with its matrix structure consisting of 4 faculties and 3 schools, the focus in the first funding phase from 2012 to 2016 was on expanding a network for strategic quality management and teaching development. The various institutions of Leuphana were linked more closely with each other, thus becoming a powerful motor for university development. In addition to setting up the network, concrete improvement measures were initiated in the four fields of action: quality management, study programme development, teaching development and the university as a community.

In the second funding period until April 2021, "Leuphana ... auf dem Weg!" focused on further development in terms of content and didactics in accordance with the goals of the university development plan. Five fields of interaction in teaching - digital, dialogue-oriented, diversity-oriented, experience-oriented and inter- and transdisciplinary - were further developed in more than half of Leuphana's study programmes. In addition, the faculties and schools received funding from a central support fund and benefited from the expertise of the established network in the implementation of innovative teaching development projects. The focus was always on the overarching development goals of the study programmes and faculties. The decentralised structure of the project, with staff located in the deans' offices and schools as well as in Team Q and the teaching service, made it possible to make a targeted contribution to the conception and implementation of the strategic development measures planned in the study programmes. The student perspective was also systematically taken into account through the involvement of student consultants and in project-supported formats such as the quality circles.

It was also important that a cross-faculty strategic steering group supported the project. It consisted of the vice-presidents responsible for the College and Graduate School, the deans of the faculties and schools, the heads of the schools, and the heads of teaching service and Team Q. During the course of the project, this group emerged as a permanent body, which, even after the end of the project, still meets once a month as part of the Jour Fixe of the deans of studies under the leadership of the President, in order to agree on teaching strategy goals and measures for Leuphana as a whole.

LadW also supported the development and expansion of a university-wide teaching development culture through campus-wide exchange formats such as the "Day of Teaching", the "Leuphana Salon", the impulse series "Ausgezeichnet" ("Excellent") with teaching award winners, or the lecture series "(Un)bedingte Bildung" ("(Un)conditional Education").

Another important result of "Leuphana ... auf dem Weg!" is the successful establishment and consolidation of the teaching service as a central unit at the interface of strategic teaching development and concrete support and qualification offers for teachers, especially in the area of digital teaching. The networking and cooperation approach from the project, which is so important for teaching development, will be continued through the teaching service. Julia Webersik, head of the teaching service, is currently working closely with President Sascha Spoun in his function as spokesperson for the Standing Commission on Teaching and Studies of the State Conference of Higher Education Institutions (LHK), to establish a state-wide umbrella organisation "Hochschule.digital Niedersachsen". By supporting applications for the acquisition of teaching-related third-party funding, the teaching service also makes an important contribution to promoting strategic teaching development through suitable projects in the future, as was recently very successfully the case within the framework of the MWK's "Innovation Plus" funding line, where Leuphana was supported with six projects.

"Even after the end of the project, Leuphana is of course still 'on the way'," says Julia Webersik. For example, she currently sees a central development task in "counteracting disruptive effects of the pandemic-induced digitalisation push by critically co-designing digital transformation in university teaching in order to bring together the best of both worlds in the long term."

The reflective design of digital transformation in university teaching is also the central theme of the planned project "Leuphana: Digital Transformation Lab for Teaching and Learning" (DigiTaL), with which Leuphana, with the participation of 15 professors from all faculties, has applied for funding of 4.5 million euros from the Foundation for Innovation in University Teaching. As a trust foundation, it awards public funds on behalf of the federal and state governments. A funding decision is expected at the end of May.


  • Dr. Julia Webersik