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Bremen Guelph Lecture Series

In 2017, the Bremen Guelph Lecture Series was launched. Each semester, a guest lecture takes place alternately in Guelph and Bremen. In summer semester 2017, Jade Ferguson, an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph's College of Arts, kicked off the series with a lecture on the topic “Seeking Sanctuary: Mob Violence, Black Citizenship, and Anti-Lynching Activism in Canada.” In September 2017, Dr. Serge Autexier from the DFKI in Guelph held the second event and introduced the Bremen Ambient Assisted Living Lab (BAALL). Here is an overview of the past lectures.

Winter semester 2020/21 – digital

‘’Critical Thinking in Research and Education’’ by Prof. Dr. Dr. Norman Sieroka

Is it possible to teach critical thinking to politicians? Such were the questions at the heart of the discussion following the lecture given by Prof. Sieroka on the 30th of September 2020. Close to 160 participants from the University of Bremen and the University of Guelph in Canada and also Alumni of the University of Bremen attended the lecture given by Prof. Norman Sieroka entitled ‘’Critical Thinking in Research and Education’’ in the framework of the Bremen-Guelph Lecture Series. This lecture series is part of the broader strategic partnership between the University of Bremen and the University of Guelph, which also includes student exchanges, research contacts between the two institutions, and joint third-party funded projects, among others. Every semester, a professor or lecturer from one university gives a

guest lecture in the other university, in alternance. Given the current situation, the lecture of Prof. Sieroka was given online this semester.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Norman Sieroka has been full Professor for Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Bremen since 2019. After earning his doctorate in physics at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Heidelberg, Prof. Sieroka worked at the ETH Zurich from 2004 to 2019, where he also earned a further doctorate in philosophy. As a lecturer Prof. Sieroka has been developing and teaching interdisciplinary courses together with colleagues from different academic disciplines.

His interdisciplinary academic background gave him a unique take on the question of critical thinking and its place in research and education. For the first part of the lecture, Prof. Sieroka explained how critical thinking is not textbook knowledge but a ‘’response-ability’’ to step back and answer questions in a reliable fashion. Not to be confused with skepticism, he explained how critical thinking should be viewed as giving someone a toolbox to look at the world in a non-dogmatic manner. Prof. Sieroka explained that his class on Research Data and Management, which is taught for the first time during the WiSe 2020/2021 in the frame of the program “Data Train - Training in Research Data Management and Data Science” initiated by the U Bremen Research Alliance, is a good example of how critical thinking can be included in teaching.

Composed of participants from different academic fields, this class will tackle the history and the different concepts involved in research data from a multidisciplinary perspective.

During the second part of the lecture, the participants were able to ask questions and engage with Prof. Sieroka’s ideas. The large number of participants coming from both universities and various academic disciplines made the discussion lively and interdisciplinary. Professors, students and as well as researchers raised a wide range of questions, such as the role that critical thinking plays in questioning the structure of science and research itself, the still unanswered questions of whether or not machine can have the ability to think critically, or if it is possible to teach critical thinking to politicians, especially in the face of climate change.

Overall, the lecture was a great success and was highly appreciated by the many participants. Although the lecture had to be given online, the online format made the lecture more accessible as more participants from all over the world could attend the lecture, in comparison to the previous ones. The next Bremen-Guelph lecture should be given by a professor or lecturer from the University of Guelph in the next semester.
More details will follow.

Lecture video:

Summer semester 2019 – University of Bremen

Dr. Brent McKenzie, Associate Professor in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies at the University of Guelph,
on "The Rise of Dark Tourism: Is the Medium Still the Message?"

Winter semester 2018/2019 – University of Guelph

Prof. Dr. Sørge Kelm, from the Department for Biology and Chemistry at the University of Bremen,
on "Trans-Sialylation and its role in African Trypanosomosis – A Disease of Neglected People"

Summer semester 2018 - University of Bremen

Dr. Adam Sneyd, Associate Professor in Political Science at the University of Guelph,
on "Comodity Politics: Contesting Responsibility in Cameroon"

Canada and Québec Study Day

Winter semester 2017/2018 – University of Guelph

Dr. Serge Autexier, Director of the Ambient Assisted Living Laboratory at the University of Bremen, on "Intelligent Assistance Research in the Bremen Ambient Assisted Living Lab"

Summer semester 2017 – University of Bremen

Professor Jade Fergusson, School of English and Theater Studies (University of Guelph),
on "Seeking Sanctuary: Mob Violence, Black Citizenship, and Anti-Lynching Activism in Canada"