Working Groups

Group work is the heart of ISWI. We offer 23 working groups, each dealing with a certain aspect of the main topic. There are thematic groups and art groups. Within the group sessions, participants will have the possibility to share their experiences and views, discuss in detail and work towards solutions for current problems. 

If you want to become a Groupleader get more information here.

Whether fossil fuels, rare earth elements, agricultural land, or clean drinking water – the resources that our earth provides are limited. Almost every form of everyday consumption requires resources whose use releases environmentally harmful CO2 into the atmosphere. According to calculations by the Global Foot Print Network, we would currently need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths to sustainably use the natural resources of our planet. On July 29, the sustainably reproducible resources for 2019 were already exhausted – and every year, more resources are consumed, and the “World Creation Day” takes place earlier and earlier. That is why we need to take action!

But what can each of us individually do to make a small step towards a more sustainable world? A big problem is the unequal distribution of resources. For instance, 80% of the world’s resources are consumed by industrialised and emerging nations. How can resources be distributed worldwide in such a way that the consumption of the top one percent in rich countries is not at the expense of the nine-tee-nine percent in the poorest nations?

An interesting approach is offered by the so-called Sharing Economy, which attempts to enable the use of otherwise unused resources utilising various platforms. Can such concepts help to use resources more efficiently, fairly and protect our environment for the benefit of future generations? Participants in this group have the opportunity to look at their consumption, question it, and find out which sustainable alternatives to conventional products are available and which products we don’t even need at all.

 

The weak at the lower end of the economic chain often suffer injustice. These include not only socially or politically disadvantaged people, but also the animals, plants and planet earth as a habitat for all living things. Environmental pollution, the exploitation of resources and living beings, overexploitation, soil degradation and species extinction are links in a great chain of inequalities, imbalances and injustices. Such cinereous are the realities in many places. Thus, natural habitats are cleared, reduced in size, managed with non-native and unadapted crops, native species and ethnic groups are displaced.

At the same time, a new awareness of food cultivation and trade is spreading. The world seems to be at the beginning of a change, not only in terms of climate but also in terms of people’s knowledge of the value of natural resources and the environment.

To what extent are we entitled to our environment? What are our obligations towards our environment and that of our neighbours and fellow human beings worldwide? What kind of global impact does our local action have on animals and plants? What interventions and regulations are possible and sensible to preserve biodiversity, natural habitats and natural wonders and to mitigate climate change?
However, it is also important to consider that certain climate protection measures also have negative effects on the environment. Thus, these means of sustainability sometimes contradict each other in certain points. In this group, the participants have the opportunity to discuss new concepts of environmental protection and to consider where changes are most urgently needed and where climate protection is most important. Humans have a responsibility towards other humans, but also towards animals, plants and our habitat. Creativity can be given free rein. For example, a campaign can be designed that results from questions, discussions and suggestions from the group work.

Global energy consumption increased dramatically during the Industrial Revolution and has been rising steadily ever since. In particular, the consumption of fossil fuels has skyrocketed in recent decades due to drastic technological developments. A decline in the consumption of energy is not foreseeable, even after the complete exhaustion of all fossil fuels. Also, energy waste such as nuclear waste poses a threat to the environment and living beings.

An expansion of the consumption of energy-intensive products to more and more people and the far-reaching progress of automation and digitalisation are driving the quantitative demands on energy supply into unimaginable proportions. Companies are amongst the main users of a great amount of energy to operate. These factors present the constant need for energy and its use on a daily basis. A balance between energy production and its consumption thereby becomes a challenge, as well as developing environmentally friendly energy sources. Is it possible to reduce energy consumption on a personal level and are people willing to do so? Many governments reward people for consuming less, but should politicians in future force society to save energy? What changes are necessary and possible to address the problem of unsustainable energy production? And at the industrial level, how could companies contribute to energy sparing? How involved are companies in the production and usage of environmentally friendly energy?

A transition to renewable energies can help to make energy production sustainable. But even those highly praised renewable energy sources have their weak points: rare and expensive materials, as well as a lot of energy itself, are used in the production of the plants and energy storage systems. To ensure a smooth transition towards a sustainable energy supply, it is important to address the limitations and problems of alternative energy production and find ways to solve them.

This group can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different energy sources. The focus could be on production costs, environmental impact, rapid availability and storage of energy. Another challenge is posed by the already established major oil, gas and coal industries as well as political interests implied by this topic. Lastly, the personal approach to energy can also play an important role. How can we consume energy more sustainable in our everyday life?

Travel educates and gives inspiration. The right for recreation, leisure, and holidays is explicitly mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and is frequently exercised, especially by residents of industrial nations. There are many possibilities for holidays, which are usually only limited by a financial situation. Tourism is an important and lucrative source of income for many countries. Ironically, package tours and all-inclusive holidays are usually not affordable for the population of the destination countries.

However, those who are interested in other cultures and want to support the local population do have the opportunity to choose alternative tourism concepts. Through international workcamps, WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), and other sustainable alternatives, one can additionally give one’s holiday a charitable purpose and often have intensive experiences by getting to know local people. Are there perhaps other ways to improve the quality of life of the local population through holidays?

But how can you make your holiday sustainable, if you have to get on a plane and thus pollute the environment to get to your desired destination? Is it fair, in the global context, to board an airplane for recreation? What would the world look like if everyone had the same opportunities for this type of recreation? Are people even aware of their human rights to holidays and recreation and are there ways to put this theoretical knowledge into practice worldwide? Even if we consider luxurious accommodations a source of income for local people, what about the energy consumption of these places? Should more money be spent on compensation for the damage caused?

Transport and mobility are essential parts of our lives, enabling better trade and faster movement of people. But with the growing population, infrastructure is lacking behind and the transition to sustainable transport in terms of social, environmental, and climate impact is becoming increasingly important.

In order to facilitate access to mobility, some cities already made public transport free of charge for everyone. The concepts of Mobility-as-a-Service, Carpooling, bike-sharing programs, on-demand “pop-up” buses, etc. have changed the perception of public transport. Additionally, the idea of autonomous vehicles is becoming increasingly popular. If self-driven taxis become widespread and readily available, the economic benefits of owning a car could decrease, which automatically leads to environmental protection. But how safe will self-driven vehicles be? Who should be held responsible in the event of accidents

Electric vehicles are becoming a topic of public awareness as well. Are electric cars more or less environmentally friendly than conventional combustion engine vehicles? Could futuristic urban transport systems, such as the “elevated bus” or the Hyperloop, make life easier and faster in a sustainable way?

The group members could discuss the possibilities of building a good infrastructure for futuristic, environmentally friendly vehicles and take a closer look at the traditional transport of goods, resources, and their effects and suggest alternative approaches. They could discuss which role universities and other institutions play in this and how new means of transport can be designed to produce lower emissions to find a middle way between the increasing need for mobility and the protection of the environment.

Technological advance is the most important topic for many students and universities. As a practical application of scientific knowledge to solve problems or fulfil specific functions, it is a driving factor of humanity. The extension of our life span, the increasing volume of food production, the ability to communicate with each other across the world, the ability to store and access information via the Internet, and the know-how to explore distant worlds are some of the positive examples of technological achievements.

However, this upturn also has its downsides. The destructive power of technology is demonstrated in countless wars and the development of weapons of mass destruction. Tracts of land are devastated in order to mine resources for the production of technological goods. And additionally, the immense energy consumption of technology is one of the most relevant driving factors of climate change.

Nevertheless, technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the “Internet of Things” will shape our future in many ways. The vision of a networked world in which robots replace the physical effort of humans, in which transport is primarily autonomous, in which our biological bodies are optimised by artificial devices, is perhaps only a few years away from realization. But how can we pursue all these developments, looking at the positive and negative sides, without neglecting the protection of our environment? Can they be used to make our life more sustainable and more sparing for our planet, or do they actually play their part in destroying it?

This group has a very diverse set of questions to discuss: What are the limits of technology-based solutions in regards to climate change and environmental conservation? How can we spread the benefits of technology, for example in terms of education and living standards, across the world? Does the use of intelligent devices mean a better or worse quality of life? How can a sensible use of technology be designed and how do we ensure it? How do we prevent potential threats from AI-based technologies such as autonomous weapon systems? And, above all, striving for the question: How do we enable future generations to live under the same – or even better – standards that we can enjoy today?

Education should be seen as one of the critical points to preserve our natural environment. Our society must be educated on the consequences of unsustainable behaviour. Especially the younger generation should be actively involved in the process of finding ideas and solutions. And who says that specialists in their field cannot be inspired by new, unconventional ideas that may at first seem impossible to implement? It is about learning together. Education always moves between taking over current ways to think and questioning them, as well as re-constructing them.

Many questions about the causes of global warming are still unexplored. It is necessary that research and the transfer of experience work hand in hand. Different forms of education must always be questioned to increase knowledge together. Especially, institutional education is strongly linked to questions of power, since social structures solidify if they remain unreflected and can be shaken up by questioning. However, this phenomenon begins in the private, family context: If parents want to raise their children as critical thinkers, they must be prepared to let themselves be questioned. This is where teachers and parents are repeatedly faced with significant challenges.

How has education and upbringing changed in different cultures? What changes are we facing, e.g. in the field of technology? Which values and goals are being pursued, and how can education adequately prepare people for a life in a modern world? What is the relationship between theory and practice? What are the roles of different educational structures, e.g. formal and informal learning, state or privately funded education? Should alternative teaching methods such as the Waldorf concept be considered? Are there alternatives for school grades? Is it a fundamental problem that knowledge is mostly only passed from the older generation to the younger ones?

Each of us obtains our information and knowledge from the media but through different channels. Media, often referred to as the fourth estate, is thus a powerful instrument of influence. Our way of dealing with media has changed fundamentally in recent years; whereas 15 years ago there was a relatively manageable number of radio stations, regional and national newspapers, and magazines, today, thanks to the Internet, there is a multitude of platforms and sites through which information can be disseminated. This change has led to a strong decentralization and an entirely new dynamic.

There may be opportunities in this change if diversity allows us to take a wholly new view. But it requires a very reflective and responsible approach to news, especially since there are many things we cannot verify. Due to a large number of sources of information, the truthfulness of the information cannot always be guaranteed. Truths are often subjective. This raises the question of how exactly media can be consciously consumed? How can we protect the diverse views from censorship and preserve freedom of speech and opinion, but at the same time protect ourselves from fake news? How can scientific knowledge be presented in the media without leaving off the complexity and inaccuracy of the models but, at the same time, don’t give climate deniers more material?

Social networks, in particular, have a significant influence on many of us when it comes to obtaining information. There are huge opportunities to learn about different points of view, but also to be overwhelmed by them and to operate only in one’s filter-bubble. To what extent is every single one of us susceptible to radicalizing or polarising due to our use of social networks? How selective is our perception through the social environment we are in? Can we escape the influence of particular interest groups and media professionals? Is it possible to design a pluralistic media landscape in such a way that everyone has an equal opportunity to be represented? How can we ensure freedom of speech but also human rights and prevent discrimination, hate, and encouragement to criminal acts?

The health of our planet is linked intricately to trends in the world economy. The global economy saw a tremendous change since the Industrial Revolution, which substantially boosted the production capacity as well as the use of natural resources, like fossil fuel for production and consumption. You could argue that the current model of the capitalist economy, which seeks to maximize profits, has benefited humanity, but has seldom played a key role in nurturing our environment.

The model of limitless and perpetual growth stimulates both competition and the ruthless exploitation of natural resources and human labor. At the same time, this model has also accelerated consumption, thereby increasing the amount of waste. All this has evidently harmed our earth by disrupting its natural cycles and causing climate change. Therefore, it is high time that current paradigms are questioned. We are witnessing a rising interest in the rethinking of economic policies and the approach to human development in general. Concepts like “degrowth”, which is a form of economy and society that aims at the well-being of all and sustains the natural basis of life, and the model of “shared and circular economy” that aims at promoting recycling rather than disposing and sharing rather than owning, are gaining momentum.

What are the limits of different economical models? What kind of policies and tax regulations can make the economy more sustainable? What immediate reforms in the economy can attempt to curb this crisis? Can we reinvent an economic model that works for both the planet as well as the people? Can the “Green Economy” save us from this crisis? Economics is a complex and multidimensional issue. A change in the economy will call for reforms not only in national but also international rules and policies on a political level. Consequently, a collective effort is required to make this shift possible. In this group, the above-mentioned and many other questions can be discussed and evaluated.

With the escalation of the climate crisis during the last decades, climate movements got more and more important. They bring attention to the topic and give people a platform to get active themselves.

There are several approaches. Movements like Sea Shepard and Extinction Rebellion use mass civil disobedience to show the importance of environmental protection. Others have political wings and try to make the change from inside the parliament in the form of parties or representatives. Fridays for future, on the other hand, managed to move a generation of young people worldwide and build the largest decentralized climate movement in history with over 7.500 local groups and 13 million people on all continents. Between the 20th and 27th of September, 2019 alone, Fridays for future brought more than 7.8 million people in 178 countries worldwide on the streets. The global climate strike was the most significant climate mobilization in history and showed what those movements are capable of. The media coverage regarding such big demonstrations often focuses on leading persons, like Greta Thunberg. Sometimes, this can lead to a cult of personality and push discussion about the actual topic, our environment, to the side. Does this damage the movements? How should they deal with this?

Which form of activism is the best approach and how far should those movements go? Is it legitimate to block coal power plants or streets for the higher good? Are climate movements even necessary? How important is activism in our parliaments? The participants of this group can share their experiences regarding (climate) movements and activism from their countries. They will discuss the possibilities and opportunities of these movements and can learn what a movement needs to be successful. In the context of an international student conference, the influence of students in environmental activism can be explored as well.

Food is one of the necessities of everyday life. It brings people together irrespective of any kind of barrier. But do our eating habits harm our environment? The United Nations refers to Food, Energy, and Water as the Nexus of sustainable development. The demand for all three has been increasing rapidly in recent years.

The expansion of agriculture has driven deforestation, converting forests, grasslands, and other carbon sinks into cropland or pasture. Food accounts for about 26% of the total Green House Gas Emissions. Out of this, 31% is from livestock and fisheries, and 27% is direct emissions from agriculture. Half of the world’s habitable land is utilized for agriculture of all sorts. 70% of the global freshwater withdrawal is for agriculture. Food & Nutrition lies at the heart of trying to tackle climate change, reducing water stress, pollution, restoring lands to forests or grasslands, and protecting the world’s wildlife. Ensuring everyone in the world has access to a nutritious diet sustainably is one of the greatest challenges we face in today’s world. Agriculture is also one of the most affected fields due to climate change. Severe droughts and floods have destroyed crops and farmlands and thereby, the lives of poor farmers and people relying on them.

Participants in this group can discuss which impact climate change has on agriculture in different parts of the world. What changes do we have to make in our eating habits that can reduce the impact of food on climate change? Can Aquaponics, Aeroponics, and other similar innovative technologies help us to tackle climate change? What changes in the current agriculture methodology can pivot the harmful impact of agriculture? Could the idea of permaculture help feeding the growing world population as well as protect our environment?

Although, waste is an inevitable part of life, the past couple of decades have seen a tremendous increase in its quantity due to the rise in population as well as the change in lifestyle. The industry-driven ‘use and throw’ mentality of the general population has made things even worse. Products like batteries, plastics, and chemicals, which are toxic not only to the earth but also to all the living things on it, are being overly produced.

We are generating too much waste and we are unable to deal with it in a sustainable way. Non-biodegradable waste materials are dumped in rivers, oceans, and landfills. Some experts predict that by 2050, more plastic might be swimming in the oceans than fish. The unprecedented and unimpeded dumping of waste along with the burning of huge amounts of that on open fields has led to alarmingly high levels of carbon dioxide and methane gas.

The three rules of “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle” are the ideal guidelines for a more sustainable way of living. As this conference is characterized by intercultural dialogue, the participants can discuss the interpretation and implementation of those rules in different parts of the world. Are those rules already known and perhaps implemented in their everyday life? How can we individually contribute to a world with less waste? How can we reduce our global consumption?

The group can have a critical look at existing products and can also think about new ways to design sustainable goods, which can be recycled or reused and ultimately result in less waste. The participants can also discuss different recycling systems. Are those systems energy efficient? How can recycled materials be used? Nature has set an important example where everything is recycled and reused. What can we learn from nature, so as to recycle and reuse waste? Can we implement those into our existing technologies and if yes, how effectively and to what extent?

“Politicians must do more to tackle climate change!” – “I am a self-determined person. I want to consume exactly as I see fit!”

There are some contradictory opinions on the question of whether politicians should do more to protect the climate. Politically driven targets have the potential to reach many people at once and bring about changes in their actions. But wouldn’t it be better if the population were to change their way of life out of their own conviction rather than having something imposed from above? Of course, an intrinsic motivation would be preferable, but maybe it simply takes too long for such a complete rethinking to take place and political regulations could help accelerate the processes. But what possibilities are there for politicians to make a goal-oriented climate policy?

Increasing taxes on crude oil would make airplane tickets more expensive and would force people to think more about whether they really want to fly to their destination. Higher fuel prices would also perhaps keep some people away from cars. But only implementing a tax hike would be quite short-sighted of the government, because the mobility of the population must still be guaranteed. If you want people not to drive their own cars everywhere, an increase in fuel prices will only help to a limited extent, if no alternatives are created in the form of an expansion of public transport. Political decisions cannot be made quickly, precisely because many people are affected by these decisions and large sums of money are at stake. The participants will think about the extremely interesting issue of possibilities of political influence on environmental protection and, even though it will not be possible to see through all the interrelationships in detail, it will open their view for broader connections.

The people who are least responsible for climate change will be most affected by it. Flooding, forest fires and extreme weather conditions like hurricanes are endangering especially people from poorer countries, who produce hardly any greenhouse gases themselves. But they are the ones who feel the consequences of climate change first hand and effects, such as the spread of famine or water scarcity, which could wage conflicts leading to huge migration waves.

Rich and industrialised countries on the other hand, which often have a much higher CO2 footprint due to large companies, have more resources to protect themselves and are mostly located in regions where climate change strikes last and are thereby not as much endangered by climate change like the global south. But especially those countries have to make huge transitions towards neutral emissions that could potentially lead to job loss for many people.

On our planet, there is an imbalance between the biggest climate sinners and those who suffer most from the consequences. In some regions of the world there are already immense effects of climate change, while in rich countries, like e.g. Germany, people are arguing about job losses in the automotive and fossil fuel industry. How can this injustice be countered? What can be done for people suffering from climate change? How can we make huge transitions without leaving people unemployed? The working group on climate justice will deal with the social implications of both climate change and the transition towards a sustainable living. They can discuss what climate justice means for themselves. The group can benefit from a large repertoire of experience of participants from very different regions of the world who are confronted with different effects of climate change.

Both climate change and war can be considered some of the imminent existential threats to humankind and are related in a multitude of ways. On the one hand, conflicts emerge over limited resources like water. On the other hand, war pollutes our planet and hinders sustainable development. Facing the challenges and mitigating the impact brought forth requires international cooperation and commitment. However, efforts for collective action are undermined by existing conflicts and outbreaks of war.

While trillions of dollars are spent on modernising weapons and fuelling the war machinery, funds required to transition towards a more sustainable economic model are somehow always lacking. How can we divert our resources towards building a peaceful and sustainable society instead of expanding our war arsenal? How can we redefine the notions for security by highlighting the significance of a global community? Several nations of the world have ministries that deal with war. Then why do we not have ministries of peace? Are intergovernmental organisations like the UN effective enough in bringing about these changes? What role do grassroots movements and engagement of the public play towards the realisation of a peace-loving planet?

Peacebuilding in the broader sense may extend far beyond the absence of armed conflict. Violence at a personal, communal, and national level is still rife even in this age and time. How can we enhance harmony and mutual understanding at different levels? Can we extend our efforts for peacebuilding in the context of climate change? Moreover, how can we actively engage in peacebuilding?

While trillions of dollars are spent on modernising weapons and fuelling the war machinery, funds required to transition towards a more sustainable economic model are somehow always lacking. How can we divert our resources towards building a peaceful and sustainable society instead of expanding our war arsenal? How can we redefine the notions for security by highlighting the significance of a global community? Several nations of the world have ministries that deal with war. Then why do we not have ministries of peace? Are intergovernmental organisations like the UN effective enough in bringing about these changes? What role do grassroots movements and engagement of the public play towards the realisation of a peace-loving planet?

Peacebuilding in the broader sense may extend far beyond the absence of armed conflict. Violence at a personal, communal, and national level is still rife even in this age and time. How can we enhance harmony and mutual understanding at different levels? Can we extend our efforts for peacebuilding in the context of climate change? Moreover, how can we actively engage in peacebuilding?

The destruction of our environment has far-reaching consequences for all of humanity. In our society, however, not every individual is treated equally, which is why some of us feel the effects more than others.

Floods, droughts and hurricanes, known as the blatant outcomes of climate change, are sadly threatening the life of many people every year. In general, women suffer more from a lack of access to clean water, sanitation, and poverty. On the other hand, the role of women, regarding climate change, is crucial since their knowledge and leadership in many different fields, like sustainable resource management and leading sustainable, practises at the household and community level, is proved, as it is mentioned by UNFCCC and UNESCO. But in our societies, there are still a lot of forces made by gender inequality.

The LGBTIQ community is also not exempted from the impacts of climate change. They form a large number of homeless and are criminalized in many countries around the world, therefore they are a very vulnerable community when it comes to the effects of climate change. However, they have already done many activities for climate justice. The point is that climate change is a global issue and we will not be able to save our planet unless every capability is used appropriately, and all people treated equally.

But how can gender equality and the LGBTIQ community be included in the climate and environmental discussion? Can the research field of gender studies integrate the aspects of environment and climate? To what extend can we improve our cooperation to fight against climate change considering that gender inequality still exists around the world? Can universities contribute to eliminating inequalities through equal educational opportunities? The participants from all over the world can exchange in this group how these topics are being tackled in their universities and develop future-oriented ideas together.

The fine arts can be looked back on a long history. At all times, they have been a means of expressing one’s ideas and making them visible to others. It is not possible to ignore the enormous wealth of artistic traditions in both the creation and interpretation of art. It can unite people who interpret works in the same way, but it can also lead to exchange when there is disagreement.

Art can be considered as an international way of communication. When it comes to the topics of climate change, environmental conservation and sustainability, which are universal concerns, the role of art to define and find solutions become more and more significant. Moreover, sometimes you must get close to taboo boundaries or even cross them in some cases, to evoke an outcry that can encourage people to question.

In addition to exchange about a synergy between art, society, and especially the role of art in social change, participants in this group will also be given space to create their artworks. How can visual art be used to open people’s eyes to the climatic challenges of our time? Where is the place of visual arts in depicting the importance of climate change? Can different exhibitions be helpful to show the depth of the climate change catastrophe?

The situation of our environment has reached such a stage that if we do not take immediate action now, it will be a threat to our future world. The main task required for this is to create awareness among the people and to make people see the harmful effects of climate change and pollution on all levels of our society. It has been noted for a long time that theatre and visceral art have a profound effect on any social movement. Art is a medium that cannot be limited by any language or map, which can easily blend in with the people from all walks of life.

By uniting artists worldwide, we can spread the word about climate change, environmental conservation and sustainability. The playwright of this group can exchange their own experiences, the situation in their home country and their views on the different theatre traditions. What kind of role can art play in bringing social change? What are the environmental concerns that can be used to bring awareness? Participants can share their thoughts and plans on how to reach the public in their respective countries through graffiti, paintings, art exhibitions and theatre plays, keeping in view cultural trends and social customs.

With the help of a stage performance, participants can practice taking action. Not only the classical forms of tragedy and comedy are available, but especially the use of unconventional elements can stimulate reflection and reach people via a visual-acoustic path. By using non-verbal means of communication, such as gestures and facial expressions, the participants have the possibility of overcoming language barriers and creating a generally understandable collaboration in an international group. This leads to interaction within the group and later with the audience.

Whether it is the anger and passion of tango, the joy and ecstasy of a Charleston or the harmony and calmness of a slow waltz – people can express their emotions through dance. Whole stories can be told through ballet and expressive dance. Other forms of dance, such as the pogo-dance of punk music, are a form of social protest. Capoeira is pointing out the grievance and is nowadays also used for entertainment.

Many discussions about climate change are very emotional – just as dances can be. In dance, there is a chance to make people emotionally aware of situations that require change. Be it through traditional forms or trying something completely new. Dances can connect people and encourage them to exchange and interpret the works. How are individual motives reflected? Are dancers aware of the meaning of their dances? When and why are dances discarded, reconsidered or redesigned? What are the chances to change something through dance?

As a universal language, dance also offers an excellent medium to bring people from different cultures together and to promote exchange at our universities. In the dance group, the mentioned aspects can be critically questioned with regards to known dances and possible approaches can be discussed. Important social topics can be presented and transferred through dance. Since dance is also an essential element to promote interaction between people, there is the possibility to develop a choreography together, with which the motto of ISWI 2021 can be embodied. This choreography can be performed at the closing event.

Music plays a very important role in the lives of many people. It can evoke the most diverse emotions, contribute to relaxation, stimulate reflection and help in orientation and self-discovery. Music uniquely unites people.

It is characterised by a strong change. Music offers the chance to carry people along and to open their eyes with lyrics and melody for what we have to change in our present way of life to be able to act sustainably, e.g. through the representation of sustainability and environmental topics in modern pop culture’s music. But, on the other hand, because music reflects our society, there are also many songs portraying a decadent and wasteful life as a good thing.

There are many different forms and genres of music, but many of them can change the mindset of their listeners. During the conference, there may be an exchange of ideas about the possibilities of information channelled in music. Besides, there will be the possibility to rehearse a piece of music or to write it yourself and present it at the closing event or, for example, as a flash mob. For this purpose, instruments brought along or provided during the conference can be used.

A picture is worth a thousand words. To capture great moments, events and moods, photography is commonly used. Documentation and accurate rendering of reality are combined with artistic aspects, whereby pictures not only contain information and bring memories to life but can also trigger certain emotions. Photography can enchant but, at the same time, shock and thus lead to a rethinking of the viewer. By individually capturing a moment with a certain combination of one’s skills and techniques, the photographer can capture and pass on the respective moment along with her/his perspective of the situation. The right photo can point out specifically unpleasant situations and thus incite the motivation to act.

In this context, the photography group can take up the theme of ISWI 2021. The destruction of our environment concerns us all and can be observed and photographed at all times. Often, it is precisely this fact that makes changes visible and can inspire us to rethink.

The group will be artistically active and, at the same time, help to capture the essence of the conference itself. The participants of the group can use their cameras to capture the most significant moments of the conference and give an overview of the events happening during the week. The created images could be used for press releases, publications and an ISWI photo exhibition, to share their pictures with the world. Simultaneously, photos can be shared with the documentation group, which will compile a booklet to document the conference.

A very special responsibility lies with the documentation group. They will record and document the many discussions, ideas and results of the numerous events, lectures and group work. The participants of this group will gain a very versatile insight into the events of the whole ISWI conference and will write reports on them. Their goal is to compile a documentation booklet, which all participants will receive at the end of the workshop.

With this booklet, we would like to give the participants not only experiences and impressions but also the possibility to take something tangible home with them. Also, the group can support the ISWI organisation team in their public relations work. On our social media channels, there will be documentation of current events during the conference.

Participants can also support the student university radio (Radio hsf), as well as the Ilmenau student television radio (iStuff) in filling their broadcasting formats for reporting on ISWI 2021. In this context, for example, interview partners can be sought, interviews can be conducted, report and documentation videos can be created and further personal ideas for creative documentation can be developed and implemented.

Philosophy is thought of as the starting point of all sciences and a guide for critical thinking, as Kant said. Philosophy seems to have great potential for creating a theoretical base for a sustainable society. Since a big part of philosophy is defining terms, it helps in getting a better and clearer understanding of what “responsibility” and “sustainability” actually mean.

The participants of this group can question and argue about the concept of progress, which originated in the age of enlightenment. According to the “Dialectic of Enlightenment”, it is the source of the exploitation of the environment and the people. Are autonomy, independence and emancipation possible without the destruction of nature and other living beings? and what is the thought process behind the “Conquest of nature”?

The group can also venture in the realm of politics and wonder which form of government could generate and implement the requirements for a sustainable society. Was Plato correct by criticising democracy or is this view on politics outdated? Can society take responsibility for our environment and, at the same time, protect individual freedom?

Let’s question how free we are on a personal level? Do we create our values and meaning in life or are they the result of our surroundings? Are we free to decide on our own or is everything determined?

As Satre said “l’existence précède l’éssence”, existence precedes essence. What is important in life? The advertisement tells us that material possessions make us happy but, aren’t other things way more relevant? Would we be happier if we led a more sustainable, less consumerist life? Acknowledging other forms of living, thinking and viewing the world can help us see things from another perspective. Maybe concepts like “Buen Vivir” from Latin-America or “Ubuntu” from the Zulu can give the group new impulses to re-think their previous opinions.

Overall, this group can look at the main topic of the conference from a big variety of angles and explore different approaches to think about and answer the important questions at hand.