Bielefeld University celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2019. It was an occasion to celebrate – and to reflect. The workshop was given the name “Controversies” as part of this effort to reflect: what instances or individuals sparked controversary during the past 50 years of the life and work of Bielefeld University? The workshop was organized by Dr. Ulrike Davy, a professor in the Faculty of Law, and Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor of Bielefeld University. This public workshop was part of the program of academic events marking Bielefeld University’s 50th anniversary. Interested members of the academic community as well as citizens of the city of Bielefeld were invited to participate – maybe even in a controversial way – in this discussion on controversies.
The event was divided into three panels that brought together “eyewitnesses” and “bystanders.” All panelists were affiliated with Bielefeld University.
Panel I: “Tuition Fees and a Culture of Conflict” (Panelists: Dr. Wiebke Esdar, Member of German Bundestag; Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Heitmeyer; Prof. Dr. Dieter Timmermann; moderated by: Prof. Dr. Johannes Hellermann), Wednesday, December 4th, 2pm–3:30pm, X-E0-001
Panel II: “Reform Pedagogy: The Recent Past and Future” (Panelists: Prof. Dr. Sabine Andresen; Prof. Dr. Volker Kraft; Prof. Dr. Heinz-Elmar Tenorth; moderated by: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Davy and Prof. Dr. Oliver Böhm-Kasper), Wednesday, December 4th, 4pm–5:30pm, X-E0-001
Panel III: “Helmut Schelsky: Undisputed Founding Father” (Panelists: Dr. Kinga Golus; Prof. Dr. Ulrike Davy; Prof. Dr. Oliver Flügel-Martinsen; Prof. Dr. Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey; Prof. Dr. Hermann Korte; moderated by: Prof. Dr. Martin Carrier), Friday, December 6th, 9am–11am, X-E0-001
The introduction of tuition fees during the summer of 2006 at Bielefeld University was met with fierce opposition. The Senate meeting, where the crucial decision was made, was interrupted and stormed. The premises of the Rectorate were occupied by students for weeks after the resolution was passed. Bathroom facilities and the rooms of Senate members became targets for vandalism, including arson and graffiti. University Rector Prof. Dr. Dieter Timmermann was even put, for a time, body guard protection – because he was in danger. How do we now see these events, more than ten years later, especially from the perspective of a culture of conflict (and maybe even a culture of student conflict)? At what point does this become violence? And in light of current developments, how should the university position itself in disputes with right-wing movements?
(Panelists: Dr. Wiebke Esdar, Member of German Bundestag; Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Heitmeyer; Prof. Dr. Dieter Timmermann; moderated by: Prof. Dr. Johannes Hellermann)
In this panel, reform pedagogy was discussed from different perspectives, with regard to its significance for Bielefeld University as one of Germany’s reform universities founded in the 1960s–1970s with the mission of bringing together many academic disciplines under the same roof.
(Panelists: Prof. Dr. Sabine Andresen; Prof. Dr. Volker Kraft; Prof. Dr. Heinz-Elmar Tenorth; Moderated by: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Davy and Prof. Dr. Oliver Böhm-Kasper)
As it is told in the origins story of the University of East Westphalia (later: Bielefeld University), Helmut Schelsky is the undisputed founder and organizer. Schelsky created the blueprint for the Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung (ZiF, Center for Interdisciplinary Research), drawing on inspiration from Princeton and Paris. Schelsky, a sociologist, was not only active in post-war scholarship, but also in higher education policy, where he achieved enduring success. On the other hand, Schelsky was angered with his own academic discipline, left Bielefeld due to numerous conflicts, and led a lonely existence in his twilight years in the Austrian state of Burgenland. While still in the planning phase for a university in East Westphalia, his own past as a young academic in Leipzig caught up with him: he had published a paper in 1934 in which he openly declared his support for National Socialism. A public debate on the subject was held in the 1960s to challenge his authority in higher education policy. Who was Helmut Schelsky – in today’s view?
Panelists: Dr. Kinga Golus; Prof. Dr. Ulrike Davy; Prof. Dr. Oliver Flügel-Martinsen; Prof. Dr. Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey; Prof. Dr. Hermann Korte; moderated by: Prof. Dr. Martin Carrier