A College of Human Ecology for Europe

The 21st Century will perhaps be characterised as one of the first centuries where human truly faced problems of a global scale. Besides ongoing climate change, the largest challenge mankind has to face is the non-sustainable nature of many of our natural resources - especially air, water, soil, and biotic resources, - and alternatives need to be found. The path to these alternatives can be found in the universities where ideas about experimentation and prudent management are taught to the younger generations with ecological consequences in mind. This teaching material should focus on innovation and the systematic discovery of the unknown rather than the rote repetition of the known facts. The aim is not to work off an invariably structured and known body of knowledge by the students, but to adjust programs and their content to the individual students’ needs of assistance and development.

There are already a number of private universities in Germany that set these principles on their agenda. However, none so far have met the ecological challenges and the bridging between humanities, sciences and arts in both, teaching and research.

The Eco League (www.ecoleague.org), an association of North American universities and colleges, gives evidence that such a bridging (i.e. supporting young people’s research needs and development and the aim of developing a sustainable conduct), can be successful. One member of the Eco League, the College of the Atlantic (www.coa.edu) which was founded in 1969 was established as a college with a primary study programme being dedicated to inter-disciplinary education of sustainable development.

To find something comparable in Germany we have to return to the 20th century to the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau. The Bauhaus was a university, which enabled a holistic, interdisciplinary, and problem oriented creative learning environment, and was designed with scientific foundations.

In a similar way to the Bauhaus principles, the European College of Human Ecology (COH) aims to create a study and research atmosphere for young people that enables them to face the current and future challenges with new and sustainable methods.