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Building a Sustainable Future

30 September 2016

This summer, UWC Germany organized the “Building a Sustainable Future” short course which was hosted at UWC Robert Bosch College. Sixty participants from all over the world travelled to the campus to engage in a wide range of activities around the broad topic of sustainability. The team of facilitators and trainers consisted of UWC alumni and UWC Robert Bosch College recent graduates, and guest speakers included Daniel Mittler, Political Director at Greenpeace International (UWC Pearson College, 1990-1992) (See our recent article about him here!)

The short course consisted of workshops and seminars discussing relevant theory and practice, as well as opportunities to meet the community, organizations and individuals to learn from. There were informative lectures, creative workshops and heated discussions. The participants were encouraged and enabled to organise their own projects and develop strategies of how they themselves can contribute to a sustainable future. This enabled them to proactively use and assess their learning experiences, and know Freiburg and the course topic - sustainability - from a range of angles.

Though the short course was just two weeks long, it surely left lasting impressions on all who attended. Lina El Biar, 19, from Belgium feels lucky to have participated in the program: "It was an occasion to travel, meet new friends and learn a lot about what's surrounding us every day. UWC had a big impact on us (the participants) and I'm sure it is and will be useful for the future adults we all are growing to be."

Josh Widera is one of the organisers of the short course and a passionate advocate for sustainability.

My name is Josh Widera, I am a 22 year-old German UWC alumnus – but I guess my relationship to UWC has always been a bit of a special one. I never went to a college, however I attended two UWC Short Courses. Since then I’ve remained involved in the movement as a whole and Short Courses in particular. I have served one term as elected board member of the German national committee and helped to organise Short Courses in Swaziland, Scotland and now Germany. The Short Course is a way for us to widen the reach of UWC and share the UWC values and excitement with those who can’t or don’t want to attend a college for two years. We reached out and bring together almost 60 international students for 17 days for a UWC experience in a nutshell. The programme was intense and diverse, it’s built around components that you would also find at a college: highly demanding academic content, CAS-like activities and a respectful, honest and welcoming environment.

The course was about sustainability in all its dimensions: social, political, economical and of course ecological among others. We investigated technologies, behaviours and lifestyles as much as smart city planning and the greater structures that enable or slow down change”.

When asked what about UWC inspired him to commit to a more sustainable world, he said: I believe that education is one of the most powerful tools for change and essential to any solution to the problems we are facing. I also believe that sustainability, our environment and the way we live together should be some of our biggest topics and concerns. It’s then only logical, if we believe in UWC and its mission statement, that it is our responsibility to use our power as a global educational movement to discuss and educate on this vital issue of our times”.

Josh also believes that we live in a time of change where we are still stunned due to a lack of language and strategy to address huge global issues, which relate to inequality, injustice and distribution, to consumption and production, but also to communication. “I think the fact that we are missing the right language, structures and tools makes it difficult for people to honestly believe that they can be a part in shaping our future. So while I believe that it is good if individuals find the conviction and courage to make their own personal impact I would also urge everyone not to let these vital matters be privatised: we need to find a new way to address issues such as sustainability as a community and collectively find strategies of organization that embrace the future and find a way for progressive change”.

UWC Short Courses such as ‘Building a Sustainable Future’ are a small step in the right direction – inspiring 60 students at a time!