Leuphana awards honorary engagement of students

2020-07-08 Traditionally, the dies academicus marks the end of the summer semester lecture period at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. Due to the corona, the university has to do without the usual ceremony this year, but has instead organized various online events. During one of these events, the prize for outstanding voluntary student commitment will be awarded. This year the award goes to the student project "Lebendiges Lüneburg", a model project to strengthen networking between committed actors* in Lüneburg's civil society.

The now award-winning initiators of the project are Felix Englisch, Sara Schulte and Ole Krickau. The starting point for their work is the conviction that in the new decade, more than ever, active civil society is needed as a pioneer of socio-ecological transformation and that Lüneburg can play a pioneering role thanks to the very diverse commitment of its citizens* and students. According to the students, however, the initiative landscape is fragmented; there is a lack of coordination and cooperation between actors, even though they often pursue similar goals and are committed to sustainable change. The students want to counteract this by using the opportunities offered by digitisation and, with their initiative "Living Lüneburg", create a place of networking and encounter together with the people in the Hanseatic city and the district.

The students use the WeChange platform for this purpose. It offers many opportunities to promote coordination and cooperation. The result is a digital space that can be used in many different ways, which can be maintained and advertised, and people can be supported in their use through personal advice and explanatory videos. In recent months, more than 60 local initiatives have already registered; they introduce themselves, share their announcements and events and use the platform for cooperation.

In the current Corona crisis, the concept has already proven its worth: In mid-March, a network of solidary neighbourhood groups with more than 500 volunteers* was established in Lüneburg in no time at all. The students created an Internet site which bundles the neighbourhood groups and other support offers on a map as well as important information as FAQ. More than 13,000 clicks have already been registered since then. With a sample notice board for the staircase, the students encourage Lüneburg residents to offer their more vulnerable neighbours help with shopping and other tasks. In the meantime, they cooperate with the German Red Cross and the Hanseatic City of Lüneburg to mediate requests and offers of help.

The jury justified its selection decision as follows: "The project convinced the jury above all through its very innovative and creative approaches to bringing together, holding together and networking a wide range of committed actors. The diverse formats and activities of the student initiative have created a far-reaching and diverse range of support that is accessible to a broad target group of different age groups and generations. In doing so, access has always been exemplarily low-barrier and, thanks to the careful and varied choice of language offers in the formats, has been made widely accessible internationally.

The prize of 500 € is donated by the Alumni and Sponsors Association of Leuphana. The Alumni and Supporters Association is a constantly growing network of 1,400 members and links over 20,000 alumni worldwide.
With 37 years of experience in student support, the association contributes to the transfer of knowledge between theory and practice with various events and regularly supports project plans of alumni, students and student initiatives and once again awards the dies prize for student commitment at Leuphana.

Felix English has been studying at the College of Leuphana since 2017. He has chosen the offer "Studium Individuale" and combines sustainability sciences, economics and political science. Sara Schulte and Ole Krikau have also opted for the "Studium Individuale" at Leuphana College. Both have been studying in Lüneburg since 2018.

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