On an Espresso With… Gabriele Brünings
After a traineeship in journalism at the Bremer Bürgerzeitung, Gabriele Brünings started her teacher training in Labor Studies/Politics (ALP) and History at the University of Bremen – in 1971, its founding year. After her traineeship as a teacher in 1977, she taught at a private secondary school in Scheeßel. From 1983, she worked as a free journalist for different media outlets; between 1987 and 2013, she was a press officer at the Bremen Senate.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Bremen?
It had always been my plan to go to university, but then I didn’t have enough money to move to a different city because my parents did not support me as much. When it became known that a Bremen university is being founded, I thought: Do that! For one, because the university was here in the city, but also because it was of course a university with a completely new approach – a reform university. Back then, I was already quite politicized and was totally fascinated. I was also impressed by the one-third parity representation rule – the fact that lecturers, students, and employees were involved equally in all decisions.
Looking back, what was the most formative experience for you at the university?
That was the organization of my studies, which was completely new. There were no lectures, teaching was focused heavily on the students. It was the first time that project-based learning came to pass, teaching with a research approach. Additionally, political issues were addressed all the time as well. I can remember the discussions with a friend very well. She studied in Freiburg and Marburg then in very conservatively taught degrees. We frequently discussed everything feverishly. She always defended lectures and traditional classroom teaching, while I was excited by the exact opposite, how we could participate as students.
What did you gain for your professional career from studying?
The approach that you can work on projects thematically and in groups – that was something I also integrated in my own classes when I was teaching. That was quite unusual, at least for the rather traditional secondary school at which I taught. That was interesting and new to the students. I believe, this methodology has refreshed my classes.
Which university lecturers were of importance to you?
The historians most of all, professors Wolfgang Eichwede, Manfred Hahn, and Gerhard Haupt. We also had gatherings with them in private. And we all used the familiar ‘Du’ among each other from the very beginning. That decreased the distance. It was like we were friends. Students of other universities did not understand that at all.
What do you associate with the 50th anniversary of the University of Bremen?
I think it’s great that we have such a university in Bremen. It had a quite strange reputation then, I’d like to say, at least in specific circles. This has completely changed in the meantime. I have not followed up on it for the last two decades and on how it evolved, but if the social connection has remained, I think that’s good for Bremen. It’s part of the image of Bremen, that something like this was possible here, a new approach. I like that.
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