The starting signal for a new tradition: Four very different educational institutions, Iowa State University (Ames, USA), Wayne State University (Detroit, USA), Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences with campuses in Mühlheim and Bottrop, and Harz University of Applied Sciences in Wernigerode and Halberstadt, organized a joint "Transatlantic Summer School". The premiere took place in Wernigerode in August 2023 and focused on sustainability and energy. The rector of Harz University, Prof. Dr. Folker Roland, passed the baton to Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Associate Provost for Academic Programs of Iowa State University. "In the summer of 2024, students from all universities will work together on innovative solutions for a sustainable food supply - with a final trip to the Midwest of the USA for the attendance phase from August 5 to 16," explained the representatives of the participating universities.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden emphasized, "We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues to design a rich learning experience both online and when the groups join us in Ames. The need for a safe and reliable food system impacts all of us, and we plan to leverage our campus resources to help students explore how sustainability impacts many areas of the food supply system."
Preparations are currently underway for the continuation of the successful first edition, which consisted of an online part and a two-week attendance phase in July and August. "The feedback from our students was very positive. In addition to lectures and project work, the focus lay on excursions to a hydroelectric power plant and a biogas plant as well as joint work in a design thinking process," reports Prof. Dr. Andrea Heilmann, Dean at the Wernigerode Department of Automation and Computer Science. The results were presented to a jury and the audience. The jury prize went to an "Urban Garden Project" for disadvantaged families, while the audience prize went to the concept of a fundraising app to improve water supply.
The desire to work for a sustainable future united all participants, as Lukas Schöneberg, a student at Ruhr West University, points out, "As the world becomes more interconnected, it's essential that we take responsibility for our environmental impact." His fellow student Luis Van Sandbergen explains, "Sustainability is key to the long-term survival of humanity." The participants will also have special memories of the intercultural exchange: "I learned about working in a group and with people who come from different places. I made lifelong memories that I will carry with me. Sustainability is the future," says Cassidy Seabrook from Wayne State University in Detroit.