Learning by giving: hands-on projects for more sustainability

Assuming social responsibility for sustainable development and reflecting on the students’ individual commitment through the lens of scientific knowledge - these are the goals of the project seminar in the supplementary study program "Sustainable Development". In it, 27 students have set up joint projects with eight partner organizations from the region this semester. These partners are the BRK Eichstätt, the Malteser, the Organic Garden AG, the city of Eichstätt, the One World Shop Ingolstadt, the Klimagarten Eichstätt, Foodsharing Ingolstadt and the zero waste shop in Eichstätt.

A lot more potential partners than could eventually be integrated into the seminar came forward: Around 20 organizations, associations, initiatives and companies got in touch after the head of the seminar, Ina Limmer launched an appeal within the sustainability networks "fairEInt - Initiative nachhaltige Region Eichstätt" and "INzukunft - Nachhaltigkeitsnetzwerk Ingolstadt". Besides this position, Limmer is also a research assistant at the Chair of Didactics of Geography and Education for Sustainable Development as well as the KU’s Sustainability officer. "Our concern is to combine academic knowledge on the challenges of sustainable development - and in this we are guided by the 17 UNESCO and Sustainable Development Goals - with community-oriented commitment. This commitment is in line with the KU's mission, which aims at bridging the gap between the University and civic society," Limmer explains.

Among other things, the students tackled the problem of overflowing trash cans in public spaces in cooperation with the city of Eichstätt. Stickers helped them make stores and cafes visible that offered customers packaging-free services. Yet another team tackled the problem of food waste, which they and Foodsharing Ingolstadt presented jointly at the Landesgartenschau.

Two project groups were involved in the work at the Kapuzinergarten Eden, the climate garden of the KU. One group built a deadwood biotope, the second group dedicated their time to the restoration and construction of insect hotels. In cooperation, the two teams also designed an information board for the educational trail that is currently being created in the Kapuzinergarten.

Another topic was chosen by students who, with the support of the Malteser’s integration service, formed two-person tandems with one of the tandem being a refugee or migrant. In weekly meetings, the tandems got to know each other and exchanged ideas on sustainability issues, especially on education and gender inequality.

Another project team helped the Ingolstadt One World Shop by improving the reach of its Facebook and Instagram accounts through various activities. Getting children and young people excited about sustainable and healthy nutrition and using their creativity to pass on diet facts - this was the goal of two project groups in cooperation with the start-up Organic Garden AG, which provides 2500 schoolchildren with healthy meals every day. The students produced short video clips in which they showed how to prepare seasonal dishes using regional products. Other students processed interesting facts on sustainable nutrition in a customer-friendly way.

One student in the seminar used her previous experience in graphic design to support the Eichstätt zero waste shop "Einfach So" in its creation of educational and informational content on sustainable and regional shopping. For this purpose, she designed a regional map that showed all the local suppliers.
Last but not least, three students launched a crowdfunding campaign with the motto "#WirHelfenAuf" for the home medical alert system of the Eichstätt district branch of the BRK (German Red Cross), thus raising over 30,000 euros for emergency lifting cushions. These are used when infirm or elderly people have fallen in their homes and activate the medical alert call. At present, the responders to the call have to rely solely on their muscle power; the lifting cushions can provide much-needed support when getting someone back on their feet.

Within the seminar, students had counseling supervision that included an individual reflection on their experiences in the communities. As far as hard facts were concerned, the seminar also equipped the participants with advanced knowledge on aspects of sustainable development. The hybrid structure of this seminar with learning and service elements has been continuously expanded in recent years. This was done with the friendly support of the team of the transfer project UNISERVITATE of the KU, which is funded by the Porticus Foundation and managed by the Latin American "Center for Solidary Service Learning" (CLAYSS) in Argentina.

For more detailed information on the concept of the project seminar and the individual projects, please refer to https://www.ku.de/en/campus-life/sustainability.