2024-03-21

Community is not an add-on, but part of the DNA

If you want to educate yourself, you can visit libraries. The world's knowledge is accessible to everyone there. But is that enough? What encourages and challenges the limits of your own mind?

Community is not an add-on, but part of the DNA

When we need help, who do we turn to? To family and friends, of course. People we know and who are close to us. People we trust because they understand us. Understand us so well that they know straight away what they can help us with and how.

It's similar in education. When we need help, who do we turn to? Rather not to family and friends, because they can't help us professionally. But then we also turn to those people who we trust to understand us and know what and how to help us. And they do this in many different ways, in different disciplines.


In other words: We turn to a community that catches us when we need help. A community that gives us exactly the right impetus that we need to keep moving towards our goal.
If you are looking for such a community, you will find it at Zeppelin University.


Why?

"My aim is to know the students by name at the end of each semester," explains Prof. Martin Elff, Chair of Political Sociology. There are currently around 750 students at ZU and around 30 professors with around 100 research assistants. This means that there are just 5 students for every lecturer.


Prof. Elff's claim is therefore entirely justified. He can memorize the names of the ten to fifteen students on average. It would be different if he had to supervise 300 students in one lecture. That would be unthinkable.

"The community of students, administrative staff and lecturers is the soul of Zeppelin University," says Anna Moors, who represents the interests of students in the Senate as a student senator. "Without them, the university not only loses its unique selling point, but also its purpose. The feeling of togetherness and working together at and for a university according to our ideas is unique."

Teachers and students sometimes even know each other by their first names

You can be a genius, but you don't have to be in the community

"No matter what I say now, you'll never really be able to understand it if you haven't experienced it for yourself," says Amar Günther, who is studying Sociology, Politics and Economics (SPE) in his Bachelor's degree and helped shape the university as student vice president for a year.


"Of course, the first thing you think of is the community between the students, which is exceptional. But that alone doesn't make the university the place it is. It also includes the special accessibility of the various lecturers." People know each other in a small community. It is not uncommon at ZU for lecturers and students to be on first-name terms.

And this applies not only to the lecturers, but also to the people at ZU who are responsible for all formalities: "The close contact and exchange students have with lecturers and other members of the university community provides comprehensive support for young people's personal and professional development," explains Angela Kurtz, Director of Student Affairs. At ZU, students are not matriculation numbers, but names with faces that people remember.

"Research and learning are of course always individual achievements," explains Prof. Josef Wieland, Vice President Teaching. "But they are achieved in an interacting process of mutual stimulation and criticism between researchers, teachers and students. The lone genius is a rather rare species." At ZU, you can be a genius, but you don't have to be. The community is there for everyone.

A second home for many: the ZU community

Zeppelin University is a second home for many

However, community does not mean that everyone should think the same. Or that there is no room for individuality. On the contrary: "At ZU, I would like to see curiosity, a willingness to cooperate, a willingness to learn, but also - when it comes down to it - the courage to dissent," says communication scientist Prof. Florian Muhle.


"Both among students and between students and lecturers, and the ability to tolerate and appreciate differences." The ability to take on other perspectives, to understand them and at the same time to develop one's own opinion and stand up for it are essential components of the education at ZU.

The exchange between students and lecturers is not just gray theory at ZU. It is lived practice. Even outside the classroom. "There is also the intensive and consistently inspiring - at least for me, hopefully also for the students - intellectual and social exchange with students through numerous formats, not just academic ones. This leads to consistently unique communication and thus also communitas and community," says Philosophy Professor Armen Avanessian. "Community is not an add-on at ZU, it's practically part of the DNA."

"The student community is extremely important to me at the university," explains Jonathan Rauch, who is studying Politics, Administration and International Relations (PAIR).


"When I go to campus, I always know that someone will be there that I can look forward to seeing. You're not alone at university - on the contrary: you help each other, have a coffee together, go for a walk and work together for the student initiatives. I spend every day of the week at the university, even when I don't have lectures, because the place and the people have become like a home and a kind of family."

Time to decide

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