In this interview, FAU student and EELISA narrator Natascha Landl asks her colleague student Teresa Dewald about her experience in Pisa where she attended the ECLIRE (“The Ethics of Climate Change: Reshaping Responsibilities for Present and Future Generations” ) Seasonal School at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. Teresa is currently doing her bachelor’s in International Business Studies at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg.
Q. How did you find out about the seasonal school sponsoring that EELISA offers?
A. I read the mail we all got and it honestly totally fell under my radar due to the mass of e-mails we receive every day. But my friend texted me right away and said: “This sounds amazing. You should apply!”. Thank god, because when I looked more into it, I was hooked
Q. What was your motivation to participate in the seasonal school?
A. I was really interested in the topic offered about the ethics of climate change and the course description totally stroke my interest. Also, I am still not sure if I might want to do my masters in that field, so it seemed like a great learning experience for me.
Q. What did your daily life look like in Pisa?
A. Well, most of the time we had lectures at the university, but we spent our free time in the city. The location of SSSA is very central and our hotel was right next to it. And when we traveled to Pisa the first day, we actually made a stopover in Florence and spent a few hours there, doing some sightseeing and eating pizza.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about the SDG you have learned about at SSSA?
A. My course was about “The ethics of climate change– reshaping responsibilities between present and future generations” and there were several thematic blocks: We learned a lot about philosophy and how to define and interpret certain terms, we had international law and country and government-specific topics as well as economics and energy management. We had a lot of group discussions and as we were only 20 students it was very easy to ask many questions. In the end, we had a written exam, which of course was not the best part. But it was doable even though I did not have much time to study. However, I actually get credits for that exam at FAU, which I did not expect, and the best student even won some prize money.
Q. In which way did studying at SSSA differ from your student experience at FAU?
A. It really followed an interdisciplinary approach. We were students from different countries, different ages, and different study backgrounds and fields. This means we all had different perspectives and could exchange those. Apart from that, the group was pretty small and therefore it felt very familiar and friendly, which of course is not so much the case if you have a lecture with 150 other students. Therefore, we also had a closer connection to professors as well. Besides, my group had a lot of Italian students and they showed us the university culture of SSSA.
Q. How do you think you can apply knowledge gained at the seasonal school to your life back home?
A.Overall, it was just very inspirational for me. Especially the philosophical and intragenerational approach to the topic of climate change and sustainability gave me a new perspective. I am not sure how I will apply it to my studies at FAU however, it will definitely be in the back of my mind when it comes to my bachelor thesis for example.
Q.What was your most impressive experience?
A. We had a video conference with Jeffrey Sachs and were able to ask him questions. He is world-renowned for what he is doing and he was taking the time to talk to us students was so impressive. Besides, they invited young climate activists as well. One of them was part of the Youth4Climate Summit whose conclusions are now part of the COP26 Glasgow agreement.
Q. And the most difficult part for you?
A. My only difficulty was the mass of information we got in a short period of time. That is because I sometimes felt like I could not concentrate on lectures as much as I wanted to, especially in the afternoon.
Q. What are your main takeaways from this exchange?
A. To understand the whole debate around any subject, it is so important to get out of your own field of study. As an economics student, I didn’t have the philosophical approach to climate change on my mind at all, even though it turns out to be so important.
Q. Would you recommend other students to participate in upcoming seasonal schools?
A.Totally. I really encourage everyone to do this, even if it is just for the interpersonal experience.
Q. And finally, If your friend would join a seasonal school in Pisa next week, what would you recommend to him/her.
A. Funny you ask that because two weeks after me, my friend actually went to Pisa as well. I told her to enjoy her stay, not hesitate to ask as many questions as possible during discussion rounds, go up to professors and have conversations during the breaks and definitely connect with people on LinkedIn. And most importantly: Ask for a campus tour. The university used to be an old monastery church and looks absolutely stunning.