up2date. Das Onlinemagazin der Universtiät Bremen

Online Talk Series: Just Change the World

How Bremen scholars and their topics have made their mark on the world

University & Society

One television studio, two livestreams in German and English, three prominent guests each for a total of four talks, and a large number of viewers from all over the world – these are the ingredients for a highly entertaining discussion format marking the 50th anniversary of the university. Space travel, Africa, climate protection, and founding myths are the topics of the talks, which are intended to explore what makes the University of Bremen spirit so special: a carefree determination in wanting to change the world – and success in doing so.

Hardly anyone embodies this pioneering spirit as much as aerospace engineer Dr. Hans Königsmann. He thinks big – really big. “I’m actually thinking about whether our Earth will still be a safe place for humans millions of years from now, and what that means for us today,” he says. Königsmann may think that way. He must think that way. For the past decade, as vice president of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and chief engineer for the company’s rocket launches, he has had one of the top jobs in the world. What Königsmann is concerned with is sustainable space travel, how rockets can be reused, and costs drastically be reduced, how we can get closer to exploring the universe in a quicker way. Königsmann is an alumnus, that is, a graduate of the University of Bremen, and completed his PhD here at the Center of Applied Space Technologies and Microgravity (ZARM). ZARM is known to most Bremen residents for its largest laboratory, the Drop Tower. That is another story. Unique in Europe. Characterized by curiosity and a thirst for action.

“Reaching for the Stars” is the title of the first online talk at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. The panel will include Dr. Hans Königsmann, ZARM Executive Director Professor Marc Avila, the head of Bremen’s largest space company OHB SE, Marco Fuchs, as well as Claudia Kessler, with whose support the first German female astronaut is to fly into space. One of the topics they will discuss is when the first humans will fly to Mars and what ethical questions should be considered in the process.

Social Responsibility of Science Is the Credo

The Alumni Network and the University Executive Board jointly organized the talk series. It soon became clear that the topics and the selection of guests were intended to show a large audience what considerable marks the still young university and its researchers have already left on the world.

“Research and teaching at the University of Bremen have always been shaped by the awareness of great social responsibility,” says the president of the university, Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter. “This talk series is a wonderful opportunity to connect the dots between the university’s achievements so far and its accomplishments today at the highest international level – and thus of course, also for Bremen as a scientific hub.”

Research Focus on Decolonization

From the very beginning, the University of Bremen stood for decolonization and a new Africa policy. This is not to be taken for granted in a city from which the colonization of Namibia stemmed. For instance: In the 1980s, under the leadership of international-law professor Manfred Hinz, the “Namibia Project” was established to rewrite the history parts for the textbooks of independent Namibia. Africa’s development is still a focus of the university today. By 2100, the African continent is expected to have a population of around 4.3 billion people, almost seven times that of Europe. Business experts predict that the next high-tech revolution will be “made in Africa.” The global North must reshape its relationship with Africa. But how? This is the topic of the talk “The Future Belongs to Africa” at 6 p.m. on November 29, 2021, which will be featuring, among others, Professor Rozena Maart, multi-award-winning scholar and writer from Bremen’s partner city Durban.

More than Rhetoric: Climate University of Bremen

Another topic that is characterized by its relevance and urgency is climate protection. Bremen alumna Antje Boetius has become one of the most important voices in this area, and not only in Germany. The marine biologist completed her doctorate at the University of Bremen, where she now holds a professorship. She has headed the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven since 2017. For the talk entitled “Quick, Save the Climate – But How?” at 6 p.m. On December 2021, other prominent guests will join her: TV presenter Karsten Schwanke, Professor Manfred Fischedick, climate researcher and director of the renowned Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, and Frederike Oberheim from Fridays for Future, who was voted Bremen’s “Woman of the Year 2020.”

The talk on December 14, 2021 at 6 p.m. at Radio Bremen will revolve around the topic of climate.
© Animaflora PicsStock / stock.adobe.com

The series will conclude with a live-streamed event with live audience at the bremer shakespeare company where representatives of the founding generation will discuss the reform university, its ideas, and its ongoing impact on the present. The talk entitled “How it All Began…” will be held at 6 p.m. on January 20, 2021.

“We are excited that such distinguished guests will be attending the event. This shows the excellent reputation of the University of Bremen and the work of its alumni. And in Radio Bremen we have a partner who will ensure a perfect broadcast,” says managing director of the Alumni Network, Derk Schönfeld.

Hosted by well-known Radio Bremen journalist Katrin Krämer, the talks will be produced in Radio Bremen’s 3nach9 television studio and streamed live. All talks will be simultaneously translated into English.

Join Us Online or at the Studio:

If you are interested, you can register for the livestream or apply to attend the live event at the Radio Bremen studio.

Further information and registration here

All Events at a Glance:

November 17, 2021: Reaching for the Stars

November 29, 2021: The Future Belongs to Africa

December 14, 2021: Quick, Save the Climate – But How?

January 20, 2022: How it All Began…

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