About plants, balls and an on time start to the semester

2020-06-08 No action due to Corona? Not at all. Little stories from the everyday life of students and teachers show how well universities can function even in times of pandemic.

[Translate to Englisch:] Blumenstrauß vor einer Wiese. ©Leuphana
[Translate to Englisch:] Master-Studentin Lisa Boenke. ©privat
[Translate to Englisch:] Julia Webersik, Leiterin des Lehrservice. ©Leuphana/Marietta Hülsmann
[Translate to Englisch:] Prof. Dr. Patrick Velte ©Patrizia Jäger/Leuphana
[Translate to Englisch:] Der Universitäts-Chor bei einer digitalen Probe. ©Leuphana
[Translate to Englisch:] Master-Studentin Anne Quadflieg ©Norman Quadflieg | Leuphana

Business studies and sustainability - teaching and research in times of pandemic

"The Corona crisis clearly shows us that business studies and sustainability are two sides of the same coin," says Patrick Velte. The Professor of Business Administration, in particular Accounting, Auditing & Corporate Governance at the Faculty of Economics continues: "The Federal Government is currently investing billions in the upswing of the German economy in the Corona crisis. If possible, we should not invest this tax money in business models that will no longer exist in a few years' time due to the compliance with climate protection targets". Even the "Green Deal" of the EU Commission, which was decided before the crisis, is finally continuing despite Corona. Sustainable corporate reporting and monitoring have been central topics of his research and teaching for years. The economist also prefers to assign current research topics for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral theses. One of his master's students is currently investigating the influence of sustainability committees and Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) on the environmental performance of companies. Teaching research projects with a focus on sustainability are already part of the curriculum in major business studies. "For our students we offer a wide range of opportunities for empirical-quantitative sustainability research in computational business administration, e.g. databases on CO2 emissions for European listed companies". The professor supports his students in their research work via ZOOM consultation hours. 

In the winter semester the new master’s "Management & Sustainable Accounting and Finance" starts at Leuphana, which Velte will lead as a major representative. Applications are still possible until 1 July. The programme can be studied in English, has an international focus and is strongly research-oriented: "The critical reflection of sustainable accounting and finance with a sound theoretical and empirical background is a main focus of our curriculum," says Velte. Although he greatly misses personal contact with students via face-to-face teaching in this time of pandemic, he believes that digital teaching is viable for the future: "Even after the crisis, I still advocate a sensible combination of preparatory and follow-up e-learning offerings and face-to-face events as discussion forums between teachers and students. Different teaching formats are a clear benefit for research-oriented business studies teaching at Leuphana".

lunatic Festival - It continues online

The lunatic is missing. Due to the Corona pandemic, the festival was cancelled this year. The good news is that the student organisation team is still highly active - online. To support artists, the lunatics sell packages of art or sustainable food on their website. "The lockdown came as a surprise for us, too. We had already organised a lot", reports Isabel Reichert of lunatic e.V. In 2003, about 25 students from Lüneburg founded the non-profit association lunatic e.V. as part of the practical seminar "Festival Organisation". Since then, students have been organising the lunatic as part of their complementary studies. In 2018 Isabel Reichert chose the seminar and collected credit points. This year the student of cultural studies is also involved in the initiative outside of her studies: "The lunatic festival is an important practical experience for me. I would like to work in the field of cultural organization later on," she says. The lunatic is not only about music. The festival offers a platform for independent artists or sustainability initiatives. There are discussions, readings or lectures. The student initiative would like to upload most of it to the internet. "Among other things, we are planning a zine and a podcast," says Isabel Reichert. The team agrees: the lunatic will live on.

Online internship in teaching studies

From the inside of the piece of tree bark a forest dwarf with red hair and white beard grins. This small work of art is a result of the teaching project "Findings", which Anne Quadflieg developed for a primary school class. The student is currently completing an 18-week internship in the master’s programme Teaching Arts. Because of the pandemic the internship is online. The students develop suggestions for teaching, which the teachers can implement in their classes. It is true that some schools in Lower Saxony have returned to classroom teaching: "But art as a minor subject was previously still one of the home schooling subjects", reports Anne Quadflieg. She praises the supervision of the teachers in the accompanying seminar. Despite the sudden change due to the pandemic, she says that it was a very productive semester: "We students upload all our ideas and lesson plans to mystudy. We also share our own tests of the concepts with others. This creates a valuable pool of material for later classroom teaching". For example, the children blot watercolour paint on paper and look for monsters in the random shapes and frame them. "In art, the original meaning of an object can be changed: For example, a piece of bark can become an eccentric dwarf. In art lessons, the children should have aesthetic experiences and get away from the handicraft lessons still common in many places. This didactic principle is also very important at our institute," says Anne Quadflieg, who also works as a freelance illustrator.

Digital Music Making - Choir, Orchestra and Big Band

Gradually, the singers of the University Choir appear on the screen. Some wear headphones, others move in time to the music or form a heart with their hands. Two singers hold a poster with the inscription "We love Chorantine" into the camera. "Especially in these difficult times, music is very important," says University Music Director Rebecca Lang. She does not appear in the YouTube video, but sings the individual voices in the additional rehearsal videos. All singers then practice on their own. "This is a wonderful and honest learning tool," says the conductor, who also teaches cultural studies and music as a subject. The first piece in the series is Coldplay's ’A Sky Full Of Stars’. "Students get their sheet music via myStudy and send their recorded tracks to me." Together with her student team, Rebecca Lang makes it possible for students to have the feeling of being able to make music together even in times of pandemic. Claudia Thao, for example, plays piano on the recording and edits the videos. Pia Metzing and Noa da Costa Henriques coordinate the big band and orchestra projects - the musicians record their respective voices one after the other. Teaching student Timo Neuhausen mixes the big band tracks. The chamber choir (administration: Samira Schmidt) is also busy at weekly zoom rehearsals. The next video, "You Will Be Found" from the musical "Dear Evan Hansen", is edited by tenor and digital media student Marvin Sokolis.

VIRTUAL DETERMINATION EXERCISE

When Dr. Agnes Friedel and Dr. Andreas Fichtner are currently riding their bikes, they sometimes stop and film a plant. They focus on capturing typical features of the respective species clearly visible with the camera. Later they will show the video to biology teacher trainees and future environmental scientists. Together the teachers have digitized the botanical identification exercise in the module "Introduction to biological form knowledge". Normally the course is a practical laboratory exercise. But currently Agnes Friedel and Andreas Fichtner are broadcasting from the biotope garden, operating in virtual workspaces or offer a digital plant consultation hour. "The conversion of the exercise into an online format is time-consuming. But the presentation of plants with the help of short educational films is also fun and we are happy about the positive feedback from the students," says Agnes Friedel. Despite the digitalisation push, the students still move around a lot in nature: "We distribute small observation tasks," reports Andreas Fichter. The plants that the students determine are quite similar: They are available for pick-up before each course day in containers in front of the university building.

MASTER PROGRAMME: START TO THE ONLINE SEMESTER 

Lisa Boenke is studying the European program "International Joint Master of Research in Work and Organizational Psychology". It is taught at three European universities: Leuphana, Maastricht University and Universitat de València. Students graduate with a joint degree. The 21-year-old has just finished her first semester in the Netherlands. In the meantime Lisa Boenke is back in Germany and is now studying at Leuphana. She was pleasantly surprised by the start of the semester, which went smoothly despite the Corona pandemic: "It worked out really well! Due to the small group size in our study programme, the online seminars via video conferences are also very easy to implement".

TEACHING SERVICE - CONVERSION TO ONLINE FORMATS

Dr. Julia Webersik's smartphone is buzzing. After reading the received message, she looks at the blinking computer screen in her office. Then the landline phone rings: "A colleague needs a signature and I'm about to have a video conference. At the moment my work feels like I’m juggling with lots of balls," says the head of the teaching service. However, the time at the beginning of the semester was more stressful: "The university management had agreed with the deaneries and management of all central units that we would start a creative introductory phase on time on 6 April. We put everything into it and it worked. So why should we wait?" she asks. Her team and the technical support of the MIZ as well as colleagues from the cooperation service and many student assistants have supported the lecturers in getting the digital semester off the ground, from moderated self-study to moodle courses, video seminars or virtual lectures. "The next challenge will be online exams - but we will manage that as well". There are about 1600 digital events this semester. "We are gathering important experience that will also be important for teaching after the pandemic," says Julia Webersik.

Further Information

Studying at Leuphana