“Generating New Ideas Together”
Whether school or adult education: the employees of the University of Bremen shape the educational landscape of the city-state with great dedication. Employees like historian Dr. Ulrike Huhn and mathematics educator Professor Christine Knipping are just two examples of these dedicated doers. They share their defining experiences from teaching certification, their enthusiasm for the Gröpelingen neighborhood in Bremen, and an understanding of knowledge transfer based on dialogue.
As a lecturer, Ulrike Huhn brings together students and citizens of Bremen in interactive formats – for example the project titled “Ein KZ für die Werft – die Geschichte des KZ-Außenlagers Schützenhof”. In this project, students developed an audio walk that leads listeners along the trail following the tracks of forced laborers of AG Weser through the Gröpelingen neighborhood in Bremen. The walk vividly depicts people’s living conditions and illuminates historical backgrounds. The walkers are guided by GPS and hear professionally recorded scenes and noises again and again. In September 2018 – for the “Tag des offenen Denkmals” (“day of the open memorial”) event – the students presented their project on-site for numerous visitors. “There were 200 people. That’s something we can be proud of,” says Ulrike Huhn.
Additionally, the dedicated historian also advocates for the exchange between students from Germany, Russia, and Ukraine. “I could also imagine offering a wider range of programs for elementary and high school students in the future at the university,” says the academic, who also completed the teacher education program. That left an impression on her.
Christine Knipping also has not forgotten her roots as an educator. After earning her degree, she soon discovered her enthusiasm for modern teaching methods in mathematics: “I was pretty unlucky while earning my degree – the teaching methods were quite old fashioned. It didn’t become clear to me until after my teacher training when I worked as a teacher and studied for a time in France: there is another way.” Since then, Knipping has been seized by enthusiasm for teaching mathematics: “Unfortunately, many people think it’s a rigid, lifeless system. I want to prove that math is a living discipline.” In order to bring students closer to her subject, Knipping runs the “matelier” together with her colleagues in mathematics. Together, they generate new ideas for the Bremen school system. This extracurricular learning center offers teachers and student teachers ideas for their lessons in all grade levels. Weekly events are also held there for school classes and there are offers in partner schools – including at the Neue Oberschule in Bremen’s Gröpelingen neighborhood since 2018.
Ulrike Huhn’s self-image as a historian is clear: “I wouldn’t be able to work at a university if my work didn’t have an impact on society. I want to be a benefit.” Christine Knipping is also convinced that knowledge transfer is necessary to connect science and society, thereby ensuring that the coming generations as well will be able to recognize the benefit of science: “If we aren’t able to accept that knowledge transfer is necessary, then we’re abolishing our own subject,” she says.
It is of particular importance to both academics that this knowledge transfer takes place in the form of dialogue on a level playing field. “It’s always a process open to results,” says Ulrike Huhn. “Which is why I find the term ‘transfer’ somewhat problematic – it sounds as though we’re conveying a finished product. But that’s not how I see it. Through the exchange with the general public, my research gains aspects and other perspectives that often I wasn’t even aware of beforehand,” says the academic. For Christine Knipping, it is also about inspiring her counterparts to act: “Sustainable knowledge transfer can only work if we offer our counterparts the opportunity to process and understand something themselves.”
Neither of the women are afraid of moving beyond the borders of the university for their research. “As an academic, you can’t just lock yourself in your office,” says Ulrike Huhn with conviction. The photo of the two women in this yearbook was taken in Bremen’s Gröpelingen neighborhood, for which both have developed a liking over time and independent of each other. “For me, it was interesting to see how surprised the students were when we walked through Gröpelingen for the first time for the development of the audio walk: such lovely little streets, houses, and trees,” gushes Huhn. Her colleague adds: “Some places are even downright bucolic. That doesn’t match up with the stereotype of the neighborhood as a social hot spot.” Both academics have gotten to know Gröpelingen better through their professional projects. “You just always have to stay curious,” says Christine Knipping.