Dominik Lange wants to change things in society. Climate protection and sustainability are particularly important to the student. That is why he is an active member of his degree course, the AStA Students’ Union, and the Academic Senate at the University of Bremen. He co-founded the Students for Future movement in Bremen and is still a dedicated member.
Dominik Lange knows what his goals are. The 26-year-old is dedicated to what he wants, has clear reasoning, asks questions when necessary, and is committed. Being respectful and dedicated are always key for him. One example from the Academic Senate: Lange has been a member of the board since 2019 and along with Lea Fischer and Lisa Rademacher, he represents the university’s students there. Together, they made an inquiry to the University Executive Board a few months ago - they wanted to know what the university’s position is in terms of sustainability and climate protection. What is happening in this regard in research, teaching, and on campus? This stemmed from the demands made by Students for Future Bremen that were presented and discussed at the university’s plenary assembly in November 2019. In the end, the inquiry was discussed at length within the university parliament and it became clear that the university is well positioned in terms of sustainability and climate protection in the fields of research and teaching. Specific climate protection activities take place on campus. For example, the university is able to cover its entire energy demands with green electricity and a staff initiative operates solar panels on the university roofs. There are also additional nature projects on campus. However, Lange believes that a great deal more can be done.
“We Need to Keep At It”
His aim is to push forward the process that will ensure that the University of Bremen is a climate-neutral university in the nearby future. He would also like to see more sustainability and climate protection in teaching and research, especially in the social sciences and humanities - areas that work on the issues of climate equality and a social-ecological transformation. He hopes to be able to change something together with the University Executive Board and the AS. “I am aware that such processes are very slow and require time but we need to keep at it,” he states. “We have a responsibility towards society.” That the politicians, who create the university’s basic budget, are needed for matters such as the renovation of buildings and financing of professorships is clear to him.
Lange and his two fellow students received a great deal of positive feedback in the AS for their inquiry. So much so that the board, which is made up of professors, staff, and students, decided to organize a one-day AS meeting on the topics of sustainability and climate protection, which took place in the spring. “The AS meeting showed me that the topic of sustainability is important to many university members. I would like it if we were to make binding decisions in the future concerning how exactly we can achieve what we want. This obviously also includes the development of staffing in climate teaching and research.”
“Bremen Was the Right Decision”
Lange was already politically active during his time at school in Buxtehude. As the county school representative in the Stade district, he organized many a demo. Lange applied to study in Hamburg and Bremen after graduating from high school and was accepted in the city on the Weser. “That was the right decision. Bremen is a green city and the people are friendly. I immediately felt at home here.” The term “village with a tram” suits Bremen well in his opinion. “Hamburg would have been too big and anonymous for me.”
Lange began a degree in philosophy and politics at the University of Bremen. Yet the subjects were not the only thing he was to focus on. The student was a member of the student body for the philosophy program, a member of the institute council, and of course, organized freshman events and parties. Then he took a look at the AStA Students’ Council. Initially, Lange supported the area of sustainability as a volunteer. Today, he’s the finance officer of the AStA board. “By doing this work, I’ve developed an understanding of how important a well-functioning administration is.” In order for a student union to work, it is not only the political effort that is important. The whole system needs to run smoothly and it requires a whole team.
Founder of Students for Future and “Public Climate School”
When the Fridays for Future movement began and regular demos took place in Bremen, Lange founded the Students for Future in Bremen together with fellow students. One of the things that they organized was a “Public Climate School” in 2019, which received the university’s support. In the following semesters, this format transformed into a lecture series that initially took place face-to-face and then digitally during the pandemic. With the support of Dean Dorle Dracklé from the Faculty of Cultural Studies, they were able to organize over 20 talks and extended invitation to experts - especially those from the University of Bremen. The event was recognized as counting towards General Studies for students if they prepared a corresponding piece of work that was assessed by the organizational team. “Our main aim was to create a space for discussion where it is possible to exchange ideas without any pressure to perform and to question the usually very technical perspective of climate change,” explains the master’s student. “Studying also means having a critical eye. This is often neglected far too much whilst studying.”
Lange’s bachelor’s studies took longer than usual due to his political activities. As the child of a working family, he receives a BAföG loan and it was not easy for him to fund that period. “Usually, you only receive the loan for the regular duration of the degree.” However, the student gathered information and was able to submit a corresponding application for an extension of this period and the BAföG Loan Office did in fact accept his political work as a reason.
Does Dominik Lange believe the work of Fridays, or also Students for Future has been weakened by the pandemic? “No, we’ve placed the topic within society and that is not something that will simply stop now,” he states convinced. The movement will continue yet there will be more formats than just the demos. Climate camps are just one example. “They are tented camps with less people than there would be at a demo that draw attention to the climate crisis over a longer period in the public space,” explains the student. “They are usually paired with talks and workshops. Such a camp is currently located in front of Bremen City Hall.”
Dominik Lange does not yet know what he wants to do career-wise after his degree. “I can imagine working in the field of philosophy in academia. But politics is also exciting,” he says.