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News Overview 2014

On a Search for Freedom

"Freedom to me is being able to make the important decisions in life yourself." Students from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg who receive support from the Foundation on their path to earning their Abitur came together for the Summer Academy at Lake Constance. Here they went on a search for the many facets of "freedom."

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Final Report

Enduring Freedom - On the Phenomenology of Freedom as Reflected in Science

Freedom is extremely personal and individual. It is also a state in which one can live a good life. It is the objective of all dreams when not available, and dealing with it is a real challenge. Freedom is a phenomenon with many facets.

The 9th Summer Academy of the fellowship program "Talent im Land" was held from July 31st to August 7th, 2014, on the campus of Salem International College in Überlingen, located on the northern shore of Lake Constance. Here a total of 84 scholarship holders from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg went on a search for the many facets of "freedom" in six different sciences.

In the courses Business, Law, Art, Psychology, Medicine, and Robotics, the 45 young talents from Baden-Württemberg and 39 from Bavaria encountered content and problems found in academic examinations at the university level. Experienced professors and lecturers offered a specific and exact look at the term freedom and its relevance to the individual sciences.

The business course looked at how China, its society, and the Chinese economy handle the issue of freedom. The law students tried to pass judgment on the sense and effects of imprisonment, and in this context, visited the prison in Konstanz. The art course cited humankind's fundamental freedoms using artistic photography in a very personal way, while the psychology course focused on how to give inner freedom back to those suffering from mental illness. The participants in the medical course asked themselves whether free will exists, and in doing so, got into a neurological debate that even included the tangible anatomy of the human brain. The scholarship recipients in the robotics course studied autonomous systems, whether as an assistant in the care of people in need or as a driverless car on busy roads.

During extracurricular activities, the scholarship holders jumped at the opportunity to pass along their knowledge and creativity and gain initial teaching experience. Here they debated, danced, painted, and improvised on stage. Languages from around the world could be heard, percussion pieces were created, the drums were played, and documentaries were watched. In the few free hours they had, the students could select from a wide variety of athletic activities to participate in – soccer, beach volleyball, tennis, archery, golf, and basketball were all high on the list, with students sometimes playing until shortly before midnight under the flood lights of the college's sports center.

The Summer Academy also boasted a number of highlights in the evenings. For example, the cameraman Holly Fink, who has received the German Television Award numerous times, the award-winning Iraqi author Abbas Khider, and the up-and-coming pianist Cezara-Lucia Vladescu all stopped for a question-and-answer session with the scholarship recipients. Finally, the Night of Cultures was the impressive culmination of the week's events, and illustrated the students' liveliness and bond with their respective home country. Next year the Summer Academy will celebrate its ten-year anniversary, and will do so for the first time also with students from families with German backgrounds.

(Ingo Straten, Academy Director, August 2014)

2014 Summer Academy

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