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Summer School Cologne (3 - 11 September)


The third summer school was held in Cologne in September 2016 and focused on social justice and human rights. It addressed different notions, concepts and declaration of human rights and debates on the universality of these rights versus their cultural or religious embeddedness. At the same time, it shifted from a rather theoretical approach of dealing with social justice concepts to dealing with the issue of social justice and human rights in a more practical and applied way. Therefore, it aimed at giving insights into qualitative methodology of value research, which derives and analyzes what people perceive as just or unjust. Some cross-cultural value surveys were discussed and the students received a short comprehensive methodological training on qualitative interviews.


Student Report

The summer school was an especially valuable opportunity for students from different backgrounds to come together and speak about an issue that is widely recognised but the details of which are debatable. Human rights being the subject of the school, students formed groups, in which they worked to do several things: prepare and present a text, lead a discussion on its ideas, engage in a brief exercise of fieldwork, and present their findings. Each group had students from all three universities, which meant that different perspectives were included in each presentation.

Outside the classroom, there were several opportunities for participants to explore the city of Köln and beyond. This happened in two ways: through the fieldwork component of the summer school and students' use of their free time. The time allotted for fieldwork allowed the students to interact with the general community at large. Some student groups surveyed people on the street and asked them their opinions on different matters related to human rights. One group visited a leader in the Catholic Church who works with leaders in the Muslim community to provide emergency spiritual care to Muslims in Köln, including Syrian refugees who have recently arrived in Köln.

During the students' free time, different groups ventured on various adventures. One group decided to hop on a train to Bonn to attend a panel discussion of three Alternative Nobel Prize winners. When they arrived, they learned that one panelist was unable to be there because he was denied exit from Palestine. Such is an example of a real human rights violation that group experienced firsthand. On a different occasion, a group of students went to Aachen, where they were offered a tour of the city by an Aachen resident who is also a student of the University of Köln. The students visited a mosque in Aachen, where they got the chance to meet some of the Muslim community there. Overall, the result of the summer school was a true intercultural exchange and broadening of perspectives, from all sides.

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