The Role of Open Access in the Emergence of the Blue Engineering Seminars, the First Course by Students for Students at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH).
Guest article by Gerrit Weiser and Robinson Perić
We are in the year 2012 A.D. At the whole TUHH the students do not do any teaching. At the whole TUHH? No! A handful of indomitable students starts the first seminar at TUHH with teaching according to the peer-to-peer principle, i.e. by students for students. The goal: to address nothing less than social and ecological aspects in engineering, and to do so in the NTA area for 2 ECTS.
How this came about, and what role Open Access played in it, is what this text is about.
Dissatisfied with the fact that topics such as climate change, sustainability or social responsibility do not feature enough in the teaching at the TUHH, the Blue Engineering AG of the TUHH was founded in 2010 from a seminar by Wolfgang Neef. The motivation was the founding of a similar AG at the TU Berlin in 2008/09: These had founded a seminar at the TU Berlin according to the peer-to-peer principle, in which students develop “building blocks” during the semester: Workshops in which social and ecological aspects in engineering are addressed.
What do such modules look like? The modules are 15-, 30-, 60- or 90-minute learning/teaching units that are well documented in terms of content and didactics. They each deal with individual aspects of the social and ecological responsibility of the engineering profession and contain varied didactic methods. There are modules for analog and also for digital teaching, in group sizes of 2-500 participants. Both the teaching and the learning process are shifted to the participants as far as possible, so that the instructors do not act as experts, but rather take on the role of facilitators. This allows the modules to be used in different contexts and limits the amount of preparation required. The modules are now available open access (Creative Commons license Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported, abbreviated CC BY-SA 3.0) on the website:
In fact, the realization that it is possible to influence teaching at one’s own university as a student, as well as the willing sharing of experiences and developed materials by the Berlin Blue Engineering AG, was decisive in founding the Blue Engineering AG at TUHH. This was followed by numerous film screenings at TUHH, actions on campus and finally, since 2012, first one and later even two Blue Engineering seminars per semester. Currently, “Blue Engineering: How do we want to live and what technology do we need for it?” is offered as a master’s seminar in the NTA area, as well as the module “Blue Engineering: Technology with Responsibility” as part of the orientation studies at TUHH.
This example shows why the free availability of information is important: The knowledge of what is possible can be the deciding factor to say: We do that too!
Over the years, a starter kit has been developed to help students and faculty launch a Blue Engineering seminar at their university. The starter kit contains all important information about the seminar concept and a detailed description of the modules used. Thanks to its modular structure, the concept can be flexibly adapted to the circumstances of the respective university and is now openly available for both analog and digital implementation. This low-threshold offering has been very well received: Blue Engineering seminars are now offered at 14 universities in Germany and the Netherlands.
Are you interested in making campus life and teaching at TUHH more socially and ecologically sustainable? You are at another university and are interested in establishing a seminar there? Are you looking for ideas for your teaching? Then take a look at our website and contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!