UWC Robert Bosch College

UWC Robert Bosch College

The First United World College (UWC) in Germany
Opening of the UWC Robert Bosch College

The first United World College (UWC) in Germany opened its doors: On September 23, 2014, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the German UWC Foundation officially welcomed students to the UWC Robert Bosch College in Freiburg.

School started exactly three years after the groundbreaking ceremony, which was held in 2011 to celebrate Robert Bosch's 150th birthday. The UWC Robert Bosch College is the first school for talented upperclass high school students from around the world. A total of 200 students of various nationalities will live, learn, and earn an internationally accredited diploma here together. All of the students will be selected by the independent UWC national committees exclusively on the basis of their aptitude and ability. Scholarships ensure that the parents' income does not play any role in the selection process.

The UWC is the largest individual project in the history of the Robert Bosch Stiftung that it is making possible together with Robert Bosch GmbH.


Dr. Simone Toepfer
Phone: +49 (0)711 46084-596
New high school in Freiburg for students from all over the world

An old monastery in Freiburg is becoming an international school – the first United World College (UWC) in Germany. "Their unique concept makes these schools like nothing else in the world," says Ingrid Hamm, Executive Director of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. "It suits Robert Bosch perfectly, as he was a strong supporter of education – both in his own company as well as externally." As part of the events surrounding Robert Bosch's 150th birthday on September 23, 2011, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the company Robert Bosch GmbH are making it possible for UWC to establish a school in Freiburg.

UWC is a high school for gifted and talented children from all over the world. The organization plans for a total of 200 students in grades 11 and 12 to begin attending the school in Freiburg starting in 2014, where they will live, learn, and pursue an International Baccalaureate diploma together. Every student is selected exclusively by the independent UWC national committees based on their suitability and aptitude. Scholarships ensure that parents' income does not play a role in the selection process.

There are currently 12 UWC schools worldwide in countries such as the Netherlands, the United States, and Swaziland. UWC plans to focus the curriculum at the school in Freiburg on technology and the environment. The investment required to establish the school in Freiburg totals approx. 40 million euros. (Photo: Deutsche Stiftung UWC)

Picture Gallery

Robert Bosch Stiftung/Albert Josef Schmidt
Ceremony in the former convent chapel
Robert Bosch Stiftung/Albert Josef Schmidt
Christof Bosch unveiled on the 150th Birthday of his grandfather, Robert Bosch, the name of the future UWC: Robert Bosch College
Robert Bosch Stiftung/Albert Josef Schmidt
Ingrid Hamm, executive director of the Robert Bosch Stiftung
Robert Bosch Stiftung/Albert Josef Schmidt
Kurt Liedtke, chairman of the board of trustees of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Jens Waltermann, chairman of the board of management Deutsche Stiftung UWC, and architect Peter Kulka
Robert Bosch Stiftung/Albert Josef Schmidt
Freiburg's mayor Dieter Salomon
Robert Bosch Stiftung/Albert Josef Schmidt
Groundbreaking ceremony beside the former convent
Robert Bosch Stiftung/Albert Josef Schmidt
Groundbreaking for the Robert Bosch College in Freiburg on September 23, 2011.
Aerial view of the "Kartaus" - a former monastery of the Carthusian Order in the Freiburg district Waldsee
Photo: Peter Walser
Model of the future UWC in Freiburg: the old "Kartaus" (center) and the new residential area for students (right)
Hotz + Architekten (Freiburg) und Peter Kulka Architektur Köln
Visualization of the future UWC in Freiburg


Dr. Simone Toepfer
Phone: +49 (0)711 46084-596
150 Years
of Robert Bosch
Robert Bosch and the education of the heart
Why is UWC such a good fit with Robert Bosch in this his 150th anniversary year? We discuss this and other matters with his grandson Christof Bosch, who sees his grandfather as a "realistic idealist."

Within the Foundation and the company you have lobbied for the establishment of the first United World College (UWC) in Germany to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of your grandfather Robert Bosch. Why are you so enthusiastic about the project?
The age of globalization calls for a globalization of education too. But by globalization in this context I’m not referring to a standardized, one-size-fits-all education, but rather a global networking of young people to promote an intellectual and emotional understanding of the diversity and commonality of nations and cultures. The first time I heard about UWC, I immediately knew that it embodies this aspiration.

Could you see yourself attending a UWC?
I think I would find the spartan conditions a little difficult. Four students from four different countries usually share a room. Crawling into the top bunk late each night after a day filled with the sheer amount of learning that is offered and expected at a UWC? I doubt that I could do it now. But I would like to try!

Why is UWC such a good fit with your grandfather Robert Bosch and his commitment to education?
Robert Bosch was a realistic idealist. For him, education was all about developing personally and technically competent people, about the "education of the heart, the recognition of the rights and values of others." That is precisely what a UWC does, in a unique way, and, in a global context, on much the same basis that my grandfather set up his company over a century ago.

The founding principle behind UWC was conceived by the educationalist Kurt Hahn, a contemporary of your grandfather, and dates back a number of years. Why is it that UWC remains a progressive institution here in the 21st century?
The principle of international understanding that was conceived by Kurt Hahn and his comrades-in-arms at the height of the Cold War has developed into the far more extensive goal of intercultural understanding. Only by working together will it be possible to overcome the global challenges that we face today, and the only way to achieve that is through young people. What Hahn recognized at the time of the East-West conflict is all the more valid today.

Every year the Foundation awards the best schools in Germany the German School Prize - proof that good schools are possible. How can UWC enrich the German educational landscape?
The two initiatives will complement each other. UWC will bring international color and stimulus to the educational landscape in Germany, will show how the seemingly impossible - a school with students from some 80 nations under one roof - is made possible when the spark for common learning takes hold. And the award-winning schools will contribute outstanding educational ideas and experience.

The UWC in Freiburg will place special emphasis on the topic of "Environment and Technology." Why are topics such as these important today?
The role of technology is to make our life better - otherwise it serves no purpose. But our civilization has pursued technological advancement to a great extent at the expense of our environment. Now we face the consequences, which are posing a growing threat to life on our planet. We have the opportunity to refocus technology to make it "invented for life," a technology that benefits not only us, but also our environment. Otherwise we risk sawing off the branch on which we are sitting.

(Bosch Zünder, No. 4 2011)
Christof Bosch was born on January 18, 1959 in Stuttgart, Germany. He studied forestry and philosophy in Munich and received his doctorate in 1986 with a thesis on soil science. At the former Bosch farm he built up an agriculture and forestry business, which he still runs today. Christof Bosch set up an analytical laboratory and consultancy firm for land usage issues and worked as an international consultant. Since the late 1990s he has represented the interests of the Bosch family within the company, and he is a shareholder of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and of Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG. He is married with three children.
Laurence, you will settle in Freiburg this late summer. You will change schools, country, continents and culture and you will be an African in Europe. How do you feel about this transition?
Apart from a 5-month sabbatical based at UWC-USA, I have lived all my life in Southern Africa. Some of my cultural background is European. For instance I have a deep enjoyment of baroque and classical music and my favourite composers mostly are from Central Europe – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. Yet other aspects of me are African, for instance I try to treasure a sense of ‘Ubuntu’. According to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity”. The best of what it means to be African fits in well with the notion of community and responsibility that are at the centre of a UWC experience. What I discovered at my sabbatical at UWC-USA was that I could fall in love with, identify with and respect another place, another community of people, another society, even though there were things that I might find unfamiliar and even at times frustrating. It will only be my wife Debbie and I who move to Freiburg, since our three children are attending Universities and Colleges. And I hope that when Debbie and I move to Freiburg, people will find us open to a new, German, way of life, willing to engage, willing to become responsible citizens of that city, of Baden-Württemberg, of Germany. I am confident that if we are open, engaged, willing to be responsible citizens, we will receive a warm welcome and be made to feel at home. I am looking forward to Freiburg, because it will be an exciting professional challenge in a fabulous location. And Debbie is looking forward in particular to the move since she is an artist. It will be great for her to move to a place where there is a wider participation in the arts and many possibilities to explore her deep interest in that.

You have visited Freiburg for a couple of days in January 2012: What was your impression of the new location for a potential UWC?
When I visited Freiburg things really fell into place. Before my visit I had just seen the plans, but then it all made sense: The Kartaus and the grounds, Freiburg and the surrounding villages and the focus of the region on sustainability. Christian Hodeige also took me to the neighbouring villages and it seemed to me that this is a part of the world with a sense of history, rootedness and productivity. I talked to a winegrower, who explained to me how many winegrowers are moving away from huge commercial agriculture to smaller but personalised productions. And this theme of sustainability seems to be present everywhere in the region.

Before, you talked about the College in Freiburg being a professional challenge for you: Why are you interested in this challenge?
Every principal dreams of the opportunity to build a college from scratch. You are not given the compromises that other people have made in the years before. You start with a fresh sheet of people. And you are working out with people, both the adults – the Board, advisory committees, wider society – and of course with the students, what could represent an ideal community. That is the challenge and the promise that this project holds. In ten years time I will be able to look at what is there and say: I had a strong role in the making of that. And that is a wonderful challenge in one’s life. Of course the road won’t always be even: Part of the upcoming challenges will be, that even though people will come to the College with a sense of hope and idealism, we all come from different backgrounds and we will have competing ideas about what it should look like. But it is this process of engagement with others that is difficult but rewarding as people work things out. And something special of course at Freiburg will be the focus on sustainability. Every UWC embraces the notion of that in some way or the other. But none of them have been founded with an eye on it as a key issue. To build that in from the very core rather than a philosophy that gets tagged on, will be very exciting. Waterford Khamlaba for example was founded as the first non-racial school in Southern Africa. And that is different than bringing non-racialism in as an add-on. A model with an add-on is always a slightly compromised model.

You have been committed to UWC as the Head of Waterford for thirteen years now. With all your experience in education, why do you think UWCs are needed nowadays? Many IB schools and international schools are being founded that also offer programmes with a focus on IB and service. Why should we widen the movement?
You got me on one of my favourite topics. Atlantic College 50 years ago started on a particular response. At the time it was founded, the conflict especially in Europe and North America was between nations that relatively recently had been at war and where now experiencing a cold war. The same is the case with Waterford Kamhlaba. The threat to peace at that time in Southern Africa was apartheid, because people were forced to be separated. So these two Colleges both started with a need to peace and their response fitted the situation we found ourselves in. 50 years on some of those threats still remain. But in my opinion the threat to peace today mostly means the division between people and between different components of society. UWC gives you the real opportunity to have a much clearer idea of the root causes. We should grow our National Committee system to not select people simply representing nations, but the tensions in and across our own society. That makes it possible to re-examine the world and respond to the threats of peace today. Those threats today are also the irresponsible use of the resources of the world or that we are taking from the world in a way that is not sustainable. And we can address this in our selection and in our curriculum. For example: In one way we could select students from countries and parts of countries where there is little awareness about sustainability and bring those students to a College, where those students gain a much deeper and profound understanding and can go back to their communities as agents of change. For example: The closest town in South Africa to Waterford Kamhlaba is Carolina where there is a new coal mine. Acid has leached from the coal mine into the ground water. Carolina is now in a position where it has no drinking water. So every day trucks supply the people with 5 litres water each. Imagine we would give a scholarship to a student from South Africa, say from a town like Carolina, and that student through their studies could come back and have a role to play in that community.

Interview by Janna Pinsker
Laurence Nodder