2nd Liberal Education Student Conference – Concept Paper
A complex world needs complex thinking:
The potentials and limits of Liberal Education in approaching contemporary challenges
In May 2016, students studying interdisciplinary programs from all over Europe gathered at Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany for the 1st European Liberal Education Student Conference (LESC). Over three busy days participants discussed, debated and deliberated over the complex question: What is Liberal Education – and what could it be?
To build on the success of last year’s conference, we, students of the University College Freiburg and the Studium Individuale of Leuphana University Lüneburg, will host the 2nd LESC this year in Freiburg. Having had the opportunity to develop and discuss possible definitions of Liberal Education during the last conference, we would now like to focus on its limits and potentials with regards to contemporary challenges. We therefore name this year’s LESC: A complex world needs complex thinking: The potentials and limits of Liberal Education in approaching contemporary challenges.
To engage with this question, participants will explore how Liberal Education can prepare students to approach multifaceted problems on a local and global scale. Based on participant contribution, we will discuss worldwide problems playing out in local contexts. This could include issues often addressed by students such as sustainability, global injustice, and the rise of populism. We ask: Does Liberal Education provide students with necessary skills to engage with these complex issues? How do these skills contribute to problem-solving in practice? What are the potential shortcomings of Liberal Education? How can we rethink and reconceptualise it?
During the conference we seek to reflect upon the different aspects of Liberal Education with respect to contemporary challenges. For example, we could address the following:
- The importance of interdisciplinarity and flexibility in dealing with threats to the environment.
- The influence of diversity and possible elitism in student bodies on the understanding of opposing views, ideologies and cultures.
- The role of critical thinking and ethical awareness in academic inquiry and scientific research.
The conference will be centered around classroom sized workshops based on contributions prepared and presented by the participating students. Supplementing these workshops will be other academic forums, as well as ample opportunity to socialise and explore Freiburg. Furthermore, we are thrilled to welcome knowledgeable speakers to share inspiring perspectives on the potentials and limits of Liberal Education. Participants will be able to foster personal and academic connections in a growing liberal education network, including the collaboration of students to further their own projects.
- The 2nd LESC will take place from Thursday, May 4, until Sunday, May 7, 2017 at University College Freiburg.
- Depending on the number of contributions, we expect the conference to comprise between 50-80 participants (students, keynote speakers and organisers)
- A call for contribution proposals will be sent out to Liberal Education colleges in February, 2017.