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Carl Deußen: Major Culture & History

Carl DeußenCarl Deußen majored in Culture and History and graduated from UCF in 2017. After his LAS studies, Carl finished a Master program in Museum Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Currently he is holding a joint PhD research position at the University of Amsterdam and the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum Köln.

"When I started LAS, working in a museum had not been my plan at all – I was not even a keen museumgoer. This only began to change during my year abroad in Ecuador, where I visited local museums dealing with the country's complex and often violent history. These museums brought up many questions I had no answer to: Who is telling what kind of story in these spaces, and what is left out? What was my own position there, as a White European man? These issues accompanied me to my bachelor thesis, which I wrote on the Amazonian rubber boom, and they eventually made me choose Museum Studies in Amsterdam as my master.

At that point, the controversy over the Humboldt Forum in Berlin was just starting to heat up, but in Amsterdam, the debate about the importance of representing the colonial past was already in full swing. I quickly noticed that the questions I had been asking myself were part of this debate and I began to focus on the central arena for this discussion, the ethnographic museum. What I had learned during my LAS Bachelor was much better suited to this task than I had anticipated. The museum turned out to be a decidedly interdisciplinary space and my prior education helped me to stay on top of things.

For my master thesis, I ended up in my hometown Cologne, where the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum was so kind to open its archive to my research on ethnographic collecting and imperial masculinity. This work allowed to combine two of my interests I had developed in Freiburg – gender and colonialism – and to apply them to the case of Wilhelm Joest, the museum's founding collector. The research worked out and after I had finished my thesis, the museum offered me a position to continue my work. My supervisor in Amsterdam also urged me to take this opportunity and, in the end, I took the decision to start a joint PhD at the museum and the University of Amsterdam. While funding was initially limited to one year, I was lucky enough to secure additional funds from the Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung to continue my work for three more years.

This also gave me the opportunity to return to the UCF. Together with Annika Roes, a fellow alumna of LAS, we taught a course on "(Post-)Colonial Histories at the Museum", in which students not only learned about the challenges of representing colonialism, but also got to curate a small part of the upcoming exhibition on Freiburg's role in Imperial Germany. Returning to the UCF as a lecturer – if only digitally – has been a wonderful experience for me, and I am looking forward to contributing further to this place where I first came into contact with many of the ideas that still continue to define my work and thinking."

Patrick Léon Gross: Major Earth and Environmental Sciences

Patrick Leon GrossLéon majored in Earth and Environmental Sciences and graduated from UCF in 2018. Inspired by a Harvard Summer School on Science and Technology Studies and his experience as a DAAD-scholar in Portland, he wrote his thesis on sustainable urban futures, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal. Currently, he is finishing his Master in Innovation Management, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability in Berlin and Vienna. Meanwhile, he is engaged in the rethinking economics movement and co-founder of the Berlin Doughnut Coalition, a participatory platform for urban regeneration.

"Studying environmental science in a liberal arts framework has given me a broad appreciation of the major processes of environmental change and the people and institutions involved in them. Along the way, I developed a strong commitment for shaping human-environment relationships in ways that catalyze radical structural changes to more sustainable patterns of organizing production, consumption, and democracy. To translate this motivation into a profession, I experimented with different forms of work from atmospheric research to fisheries management to teaching environmental philosophy. While interning with a climate consultancy and the German Environment Foundation, I became aware of the potential and challenges of the business sector in promoting sustainability transitions. To help reconfigure economic activities towards more environmentally responsible and socially just outcomes, I chose a master that allowed me to learn hands-on skills in innovation management, strategic thinking, and leadership, and I have embedded these within more broader and critical perspectives on degrowth and socio-ecological economics and policy.

Besides my studies, I have always been engaged in other activities to link theory and practice in meaningful ways. As part of the Executive Organizers of the Students Council, I had the pleasure to learn about community building and project management, a passion which was reinforced by volunteering positions with Friends of Trees, Fridays for Future, the Nightline Freiburg, and different facilitation jobs. Last year, I co-authored a business plan for a green tech startup. With the support of a social business incubator program our team successfully managed to develop the app Geco. Fascinated by the workings of capitalist economies, I have also become engaged in the Rethinking Economics Network, both as a writer and as the co-founder of a student initiative that co-creates new content for a more diverse economics education. Lately, I have been linking these insights with my passion for city activism. As a member of the Urbane Liga, I co-founded the Berlin Doughnut Coalition, a platform that organizes workshops, events, and lobbying activities to advance the political mindset needed for Berlin to thrive in the 21st century. Using social economy frameworks to strengthen sustainable urban development will securely continue to fascinate me in the near time future.

My liberal arts education has taught me to learn new things quickly and connect them in inventive ways. I also benefit from the excellent training in writing and research. As generalists who love learning across different fields, most of us will stay curious about all sorts of things, and that is a unique and invaluable strength we should all embrace!"

Lucca Jaeckel: Major Life Sciences

Lucca Testimonial

Lucca majored in Life Sciences and graduated from UCF in 2019. Currently he is enrolled in a Master in Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience at Freie Universität Berlin. Alongside his studies he is working as a research assistant at the Visual Perception Lab at the Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Charité and as a blog editor for the MIND Foundation for Psychedelic Science.

"At UCF I initially pivoted back and forth between different strands of mental health and biomedical research. I was interested in the human mind and brain, but also in technology and the societal and ethical aspects of mental health conditions and their remedies. In this, I was particularly fascinated with psychopharmacology and the mind-brain gap. LAS allowed me to consider this through the perspective of my major, Life Sciences, but also through the lens of the social sciences and the humanities. Hence, in the courses in Freiburg and in my year abroad at University College Maastricht, I gained insights into research methods in biology and psychology, but also got to engage with philosophical questions surrounding the human mind and the use of psychopharmaceuticals.

This dual perspective is mirrored in the two bachelor's theses I got to write during my studies, as well as in my journey after LAS. I got to write one bachelor's thesis about the mechanisms of action of trauma psychotherapy with MDMA (better known for being illicitly sold in the form of ecstasy pills), and one about the phenomenology and ethics of deep brain stimulation for the treatment of depression. For this I interned in the Psychiatric Clinic of the University Hospital Freiburg.

Currently I'm doing my M.Sc. In Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience at Freie Universität Berlin. Alongside my studies I'm working as a research assistant at the Visual Perception Lab at the Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Charité and as a blog editor for the MIND Foundation for Psychedelic Science.

At Charité, I'm assisting research projects that aim to elucidate the brain mechanisms associated with conscious and unconscious visual information processing and how these are altered in individuals diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, particularly schizophrenia. This allows me to learn neuroscientific and psychological research methods first-hand.

MIND is an NGO that supports and conducts research on the effects of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin (the psychoactive ingredient of 'magic mushrooms') on mental well-being, e.g. in the treatment of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. With the MIND Blog, we try to communicate research findings and debates in this research community to a wider audience. The legal status, the widespread recreational consumption, and the commonly held societal view of these substances makes science communication in this field a really exciting task.

I'm really grateful for the time I got to spend at UCF, for having learned to learn and to adapt to new environments. I'm not sure where this path will take me in a year from now, let alone in five. However, I sure hope I can stick with not committing to only one discipline in years to come and I'm confident that I'll be able to do so."

Marilena Stegbauer: Major Governance

Marilena Stegbauer

Marilena majored in Governance and graduated in the pioneer LAS cohort in 2016. After UCF, she enrolled in a Master of Law (LL.M.) in International Criminal Law at the Irish Center for Human Rights, NUI Galway. She graduated with distinction in 2018, and is now an independent human rights consultant based in London. She is commissioned by the UK Independent Uyghur Tribunal to manage the secretariat and investigate China's alleged international crimes against Uyghurs; a Turkic minority group. Furthermore, she assists an NGO in establishing a case for state responsibility regarding a minority group's persecution in the Middle East, and drafts proposals for academic publications on international criminal law's evolving nature for the Nuremberg Academy. Marilena is also a contributor to Justice in Conflict – a blog discussing current affairs in international criminal justice.

"During my final year at UCF, I became interested in international law and the mechanisms designed to protect those most vulnerable from gross human rights violations. I wanted to understand how the international legal order is maintained, and what challenges a self-proclaimed universal set of norms face in an era of increased armed conflict around the world. The study of international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, didn't feature in the LAS curriculum. However, at UCF, every student is given the academic freedom to create opportunities for in-depth study following topics of interest. I wrote my bachelor thesis on the classification of human trafficking as a crime against humanity, rendering international prosecution.

After I graduated from the Irish Center for Human Rights, studying part-time, I wanted to gain some litigation experience. In 2019, I relocated to The Hague and became part of a defence team at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). I learned how to build a case analysing fast trenches of evidence pertaining to Serb paramilitary operations in the ethnic conflict that most associate with the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. After collecting my fair share of job rejections in 2019, I applied to the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), where I eventually landed my first job in early 2020. I advanced projects preserving the judiciary and the legal profession's independence, ultimately strengthening the rule of law in countries where democracy is under immense threat.

In autumn 2020, the opportunity arose to work for the newly established Uyghur Tribunal. Thanks to an incredible collective effort, we are currently compiling what is probably the most extensive evidence database relating to the human rights situation of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. I am very grateful for this unique experience as there is no other organisation investigating the alleged human rights abuses independently and impartially. Five years after graduation, I arrived at a destination. However, if I learned one thing along the way, then that the human rights field is ridiculously competitive, job opportunities are impossible to predict, and nothing is ever set in stone."

Benedikt Kau: Major Life Sciences

Benedikt TestimonialBenedikt majored in Life Sciences and graduated from UCF and University College Maastricht in 2018 as a double degree student. In 2015, he founded the non-profit organization "WhyEurope" with friends, ultimately reaching over 2.4 million people with an innovative approach to political communication. Before starting the Master program Computer Science at University College London, he spent 16 months in Beijing as a DAAD-scholar.

"I chose LAS with the intention of specializing in social sciences – and ended up in a MSc Computer Science at University College London. I therefore cannot overstate the enormous opportunity and potential the interdisciplinary program offers to students. It did not only assist in finding my own path but provided me with invaluable lessons in how my areas of interest overlap and interact with each other.

Immediately after graduating from UCF and University College Maastricht I went to Beijing for 18 months. As scholar of the DAAD-program "Language and professional training in China" I took Mandarin classes at Beijing Foreign Studies University accompanied by visits to companies and organizations in Beijing and Shanghai followed by a 6-months internship at a financial services provider. I returned to Europe with the Trans-Siberian Railway just before Covid-19 led to closed borders. Prior to my Master's degree I am now completing an internship at the German railway company Deutsche Bahn and their division on digitalization and technology.

Both analysing experimental data during my studies and having experienced the omnipresence of digital solutions in China sparked my interest in technology. I am now looking forward to deepening my technological and mathematical knowledge in a degree on Computer Science at University College London.

Back when I went to high school, I spent a lot of time composing music. I very well remember one of my last courses at UCF, a class on sensation & perception, for which I wrote an essay on how neuroscience and evolution might explain parts of how humans perceive music – making use of knowledge from many years before I could have imagined specialising in natural sciences. The opportunity to connect dots like these during a Liberal Arts and Sciences degree has been an incredibly enriching experience."

Elena Kloppmann: Major Culture and History

Elena UNElena's story is part of a longer interview with Friends of Freiburg.

Friends of Freiburg: Tell us about your background with Uni-Freiburg, and what you are studying right now.

Elena: The University College Freiburg is a very inspiring and competitive place to study at. It is filled with idealistic students who are now all on their own path to make a change in the world. I especially enjoyed the diversity in students, subjects and perspectives. It was a common rule that every question could be asked, and every discussion was worth its time. It was much less of a frontal education like in school. It was challenging at times, but it taught me to always be critical and constructive.
Freiburg as a city is — in my humble opinion — the most perfect place on earth. It is big enough to have amazing activities, small enough to escape into nature quickly. It's a young city with many ideas and initiatives; it's a green city – both naturally and politically. Every season is wonderful – skiing in the Black Forest in winter, bike tours and wine festivals in spring, long warm nights and visits to the lakes in summer, and cozy coffeeshops and Black Forest hikes in autumn.

FoF: What was your favorite part about being a student at University College Freiburg?

Elena: I studied at the University College Freiburg from 2012-2018, and received a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, majoring in Culture and History. Now I'm pursuing a Master of Culture, Communication & Globalization specializing in International Relations at Aalborg University, Denmark. I'll graduate at the end of this year. The third semester of this degree is dedicated to an internship experience which brought me to NYC.

FoF: Tell us about your time in New York. What did you do?

Elena: From August 2019 to January 2020 – for 6 months – I was a United Nations Secretariat intern in the programme management section for the Director's Office of the Human Resources Services Division in the Department of Operational Support.

FoF: Do you have a current research focus or project?

Elena: I'm currently working pro bono in an international project team with Oracle, building an app/platform to help mitigate, manage, and overcome the current Covid-19 crisis. I will write my final thesis this autumn on a discourse analysis of international political communication on social media in a pandemic.

Here you can read the full interview of Friends of Freiburg with Elena.

Daniel Hölle: Major Life Sciences

Daniel LS upDaniel majored in Life Sciences and graduated from UCF in 2017. After his LAS studies he decided to apply for the Master program Neurocognitive Psychology at the University of Oldenburg, where he recently started his PhD position within the Emmy-Noether-group Neurophysiology of Everyday Life.

"My final years in the LAS program have sparked my interest in psychological research. During my year abroad in Canada, I was able to take various psychology classes and within my major Life Sciences I used every opportunity to pursue this interest. For instance, I wrote my Bachelor's thesis with the Department of Psychology in Freiburg. Naturally, after graduating in 2017, I applied to numerous psychology Master programs in Germany. My first preference was the research master 'Neurocognitive Psychology' in Oldenburg, perhaps one of the most inclusive psychology programs in Germany regarding applicants with non-psychological backgrounds. Mirroring a familiar experience of every LAS student, I had to explain one last time what exactly LAS encompassed before I was accepted in the program.

Looking back after two insightful and wonderful years in this Master program, I came to realize that the LAS education was a tremendous asset in many (also unexpected) ways. For example, in my first year I gave a presentation about Thomas Kuhn's scientific paradigms, an idea that clearly stuck with me. Furthermore, the previous experience with the statistics program R and, most importantly, the software MATLAB, which is crucial to analyze brain data, was extremely helpful. For my Master's thesis, I explored the feasibility of recording brain activity long-term in an everyday setting. My participants performed an auditory task during their office day activities for more than six hours. During this time, I measured their brain activity by using a fully mobile ear-EEG setup that was developed in Oldenburg (see photo). Since this project worked better than expected, my supervisor offered me a PhD position that would allow me to continue this research. Consequently, I started my PhD position within the Emmy-Noether-group 'Neurophysiology of everyday life' at the University of Oldenburg in April 2020.

Fun fact at the end: Another LAS graduate followed in my pioneering footsteps and started the Master program in the subsequent year. Nowadays we are flat mates and occasionally catch ourselves dwelling on LAS memories."

Daniel Müller: Major Governance

Daniel TestimonialDaniel Müller was among the pioneer LAS cohort and majored in Governance. Daniel’s passion is the Social Enterprise sector. And he found it through LAS. After his studies in Freiburg he worked for two social enterprises and is currently finishing his Master’s degree in Philosophy and Economics.

“Is it possible to address societal and environmental challenges through social innovation? Can you reconcile business and ethics? Which trade-offs do you face along the way? Inspired by a LAS course on the theoretical implications of Corporate Social Responsibility, I deepened my understanding of Social Entrepreneurship through a practical workshop focussing on SE business models and self-understanding. After looking at the motivations for ethical consumerism through a sociological lens in my BA thesis, I ventured for a year to work for two social enterprises: On Purpose in Berlin and Fairphone in Amsterdam, the former being recommended by a peer from the LAS network. I currently finish my Master’s degree in Philosophy and Economics at the University of Bayreuth, trying to describe what type of capitalism Social Enterprises envision and strive for.

With ease, I can navigate through new theories, concepts, and methods thanks to LAS. Be it at work or in my demanding Master’s degree, whenever I was thrown into the deep end, I could rely on my LAS experience to stay afloat and learn how to swim. Either I’ve been aided by prior exposure to a similar method or topic through LAS or LAS at least gave me the confidence to believe in my abilities to eventually get to the bottom of a seemingly bottomless challenge. Be it Regularity Conditions of Maximum Likelihood Estimators or Epistemological concerns with oversimplified models in Economics.”

Swenja Reil: Major Culture and History

Swenja TestimonialSwenja Reil majored in Culture and History and graduated in the pioneer LAS cohort in 2016. After her LAS studies in Freiburg, she completed a Master’s in Gender and Culture at Swansea University, UK. Now she is back in Dortmund and about to start her own business.

“After graduating from UCF, I stayed in Freiburg for a little while in order to make up my mind about what is next. Shortly after, I discovered a promising Master's program – Gender and Culture – and enrolled at Swansea University. Especially the close contact to my supervisor proved to be extremely useful, providing me with many insights into academia. During my studies I mainly focused on intersectionality, its methodologies and methods, and graduated with distinction one year later. The most interesting part has been the qualitative interviews I led with scholars from all over Europe for my dissertation. Apart from that, I had a great year with my flatmates at the international student accommodation.

Nevertheless, job offers were not immediately flying towards me which enabled me to become creative: Back in my hometown Dortmund, I decided that it is time to actually do some practical work. With a group of five young women, I am now founding a plastic-free shop called Frau Lose. For one year, we've been experiencing German bureaucracy to a new extent, gathered regional merchants who can provide us with local organic food and every-day products meanwhile trying to work in an inclusive way, free of hierarchies. Quite a challenge! Simultaneously, it is fun to put theoretical knowledge acquired at UCF into practice: the course on Social Entrepreneurship proves to be extremely helpful; knowledge about global interrelations provides meaning to our project; and actively working with as few hierarchies as possible adds inspiring aspects to theoretical background on ways of cooperation. Fortunately, the effort is constantly rewarded by the positive way in which the inhabitants of Dortmund react to our ideas. Now, I am looking forward to the opening of our plastic free space in the summer of 2019. Whereas I enjoy practical experiences, I am also looking forward to finding a job in academia eventually.”

Saskia Bauer: Major Governance

Saskia TestimonialSaskia majored in Governance and graduated in 2017. She is currently doing an MSc in Sport Policy, Management & International Development at the University of Edinburgh. Saskia won the British Council IELTS Award 2017 that comes with a 10,000 GBP scholarship for her studies. An interview with Saskia is available on the British Council website, a video portrait is on Youtube.


"Having finished my Liberal Arts and Sciences degree with a major in Governance, I had many different options of what do. Through the course of the last four years I was mainly interested in developing countries, their political and economic systems, as well as why some countries develop differently than others. I could not picture myself working in the field as such, some component was still missing for me. Doing volunteer work I came across different organizations that focus on the power of sports in international development, peace building, fighting poverty or gender inequality. I was very fascinated by the approach because it combines both my interests in sports and international development. For my master I chose a program of the University of Edinburgh called Sport Policy, Management & International Development. I was somewhat surprised to get accepted because I do not have any academic background in sport. However, it is a very diverse program with students from fields as different as Global Studies, Marine Biology or Law. I feel very well prepared from doing my undergrads in Freiburg, much better prepared than most students in my program. I’m used to the workload, the form of assessment, giving presentations and designing academic posters. On this note: Thank you very much for the past four years that have taught me everything I need, in order to pursue a masters program at a highly ranked university abroad."

Caterine Hinestroza Torres: Major Culture and History


Caterine studied and graduated as a student in the pioneer LAS cohort. After her LAS studies in Freiburg where she majored in Culture and History, she completed a Master's in Management of Public Relations and Communication Agencies at the University Autonoma of Barcelona. She was engaged in the Project "Here and Black" in Freiburg and is now back in Colombia.

"After graduating from LAS last year I decided to enroll as a student for an Online Master Program, Public Relations and Communication Agencies at the University Autonoma of Barcelona, which I have finished in June this Year. Furthermore, I joined the Feministische Geschichtswerkstatt Freiburg in January 2017 and I started working part time with them to establish an Oral History Archive. Within the same organization I have taken part to many interesting projects, i.e. the project Here and Black, whose aim is to make visible the experiences of black people in Europe in the past and present. Black people have lived in Europe at all times, not just during European colonialism, and so these stories and experiences are worth to present as they are part of the European, German or regional history.

In March 2018 I moved back to Colombia in order to start working on my social and business project, which is related to the Colombian Cacao. The project focuses on valuing Colombian products and traditional practices such as producing chocolate with artisanal practices. Since many years ago Colombia has been exporting cacao and just a minimum part of it is consumed in the country. Furthermore, this small quantity that remains has been commercialized with more sugar than cacao itself. With my project I wanted to draw attention to this wonderful fruit and the opportunities that it offers to the Colombian economy. In addition, it offers opportunities for farmers that want to change illegal practices such as growing coca. The project is partially financed with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) funds and now I am looking for more finance options, so I can expand this idea through Colombia and not only in my region. Through this opportunity I have been able to combine my knowledge because part of my motivation is to rescue cultural practices and to give them meaning for younger generations, and my entrepreneurial spirit."

For more information, please see


Veronika Vazhnik: Major Earth and Environmental Sciences

Veronika TestimonialVeronika is a pioneer UCF alumna from the first graduating LAS class of 2016. She majored in Earth and Environmental Sciences in Freiburg and started her graduate studies at Penn State University in August 2016. Beyond courses in her Major BioRenewable Systems and in Operations Research, she is working as a PhD candidate at Prof. Tom Richard's lab.

In her studies and research, Veronika is focusing on creating a decision support tool that would assist in spatial and temporal planning of farm operations based not only on economic operations, but also on environmental and social factors. This includes desk and field work as well as travels: a Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals in San Francisco, summer research at the Idaho National Lab, the annual conference of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers in Spokane, Washington.

After passing her comprehensive exams, Veronika is now (2018) writing her dissertation at the Idaho National Lab (INL). In her dissertation, she is developing a framework that can help farmers decide which crop to place where on the field based on the farmer’s priorities and based on sustainability assessment of the choices. Her scientific approach is transdisciplinary, including landscape ecology, sustainability science, agricultural engineering, economic theory, operations research; as well as talking to farmers about what matters to them on their farms.

Besides that, Veronika is doing a minor in operations research, which is a subfield of industrial engineering that develops mathematical tools for decision-making and optimization. She visits conferences, co-organizes a workshop in the Chesapeake Bay on how to overcome the water pollution challenge and organizes a team to take part in the EcoChallenge.

Veronika's Update Summer 2020

Thankfully, Veronika keeps us posted on what she is doing. Congratulations, dear Dr. Veronika Vazhnik, on completing your doctorate! We wish you all the best for your start in Boise, Idaho as ISTP-CAES Fellow this autumn.

"I am in Idaho, continuing my work at the Software and Data Science department of Idaho National Laboratory. Starting in September, I will move to Boise to be Idaho Science and Technology Policy – Center for Advanced Energy Studies (ISTP-CAES) Fellow.

That will be the first year of such program in Idaho, but I am comfortable with being a guinea pig, and am excited for the new opportunity. It will place me at one of the state agencies like Governor's office of Energy, or Department of Commerce. I will contribute with my subject-matter expertise, while learn how to provide the most useful information for policy decisions.

Such a step, of course, has been only possible because I have graduated. I was lucky that I could defend my dissertation back in February 2020 in person, but all the following steps took place remotely. I still wanted to celebrate, and my rented graduation gown arrived because I ordered it before the pandemic hit, so a friend took some 'distanced graduation' photos.

Graduation Veronika Graduation Veronika 2020 Veronika Idaho

My dissertation is now available at the PSU library and I am working to publish the chapters ASAP."

Dr. Veronika Vazhnik received the Outstanding Dissertation Award by the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State for her dissertation. And she is still active in sustainability-related volunteering, like Earth Week.

Giorgio Chiara: Major Culture and History

Giorgio Testimonial

Giorgio majored in Culture and History as a student of the pioneer LAS cohort. After LAS he did internships at the Red Note Ensemble in Edinburgh, and at the Villa Vigoni, the German-Italian Centre for European Excellence on Lake Como. Afterwards, he completed his Master's at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in Cultural Economics & Entrepreneurship. Now he is working for a conference production company in Berlin as a Business Development Manager.

"After graduating from UCF I was unsure about how to continue my studies; thus I decided to take a one year break from academia and have some first-hand experience in the labour market. This decision first brought me to Scotland, where I completed an internship at a contemporary music ensemble working as an assistant to a former UCF staff member, and then to my Italian home country on Lake Como while also attending to various events like the European Forum in Alpbach. The experience gained during this year brought me to enroll to a great Master's program in Cultural Economics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

Working in the cultural sector was my final goal. Obviously that did not happen immediately, and after getting my Master's degree I moved to Berlin as I accepted a job offer in the sales department of an international company that produces business conferences all over the world. So far it has been a very good experience as I am able to put into practice the skills in project management and research I gathered during my studies both inside and outside the classroom (never underestimate extra-curricular activities: I was very active during my four years in Freiburg, for instance by organizing the open days and the welcome weeks of the UCF as well as being an active member of the AKA Filmclub).

Interdisciplinarity is for sure a skill that is extremely helpful, since in my job I am expected to research and gather information on various topics in a short time span and then being able to communicate them in an effective manner. The last project I managed, for instance, concerned the new ERP software that SAP brought to the market and will likely bring an important disruption in the way many companies are managed worldwide. I had no knowledge about ERP software (nor about any IT-topic, for that matter) prior and I was expected to be able to lead the project with only two days of research at disposal.

I am enjoying my practical experience in a market that is far away from what I studied and was aiming for, but I am looking forward to eventually find a job in academia or the cultural sector. My LAS background supplied me with the right skills and mindset to be able to find my own way toward my eventual goal while confidently moving between different environments and people."

Theresa Weinstein: Major Life Sciences

Theresa in BerlinTheresa is another pioneer UCF alumna from the first graduating LAS class of 2016. She majored in Life Sciences and this is her story:

"After graduating from LAS, I was unsure whether I really wanted to choose science as my career path and to join a research-oriented master’s program right away. I decided to first do something completely different after LAS: I started learning “Design Thinking” at the HPI D-School (Uni Potsdam), which is an additional study program that you can attend two full days per week, for one or two semesters. At the same time, I enrolled in “Wissenschaftsforschung” at HU Berlin. It helped me to learn more about the sociology of science and to gain a meta-perspective on what I would be doing when choosing science as my career path.

Studying Design Thinking at the HPI D-School, however, was the much more formative experience – it was very inspiring and enriching, both on a personal and career level. Design Thinking is basically another way of solving complex problems and to come up with innovative solutions using a human-centered approach. One of its core features is multidisciplinary team work. But Design Thinking is not only a method, it is also a mindset that fundamentally changes the way you think about problems and how you want to work in the future.

I think that Design Thinking – being interdisciplinary and providing a practical method on how to move from discussion into actual “doing” – is a perfect complement to LAS and I would recommend it to anyone graduating from UCF. At the D-School, many things reminded me of the UCF: the Common Room, the Reading Room, and a diverse set of very engaged people. Also, I was able to realize during that time, how many skills I have acquired from my LAS-studies that made Design Thinking feel natural for me: quickly adapting to new thinking styles, being able to get into a new complex topic on my own, dealing with uncertainty, and working together across disciplines.

After I got my certificates in Design Thinking, I decided that I still want to get a master’s degree and to go back to my academic roots in the Life Sciences. I quit “Wissenschaftsforschung” and joined the research-oriented master’s program of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. Since then, I am studying all about the human brain, with a focus on social neuroscience. At the same time, I became a research assistant at the HPI-Stanford Design Thinking Research Program that studies the method from a scientific perspective, and I started working as a freelance Design Thinking coach and consultant, teaching others about Design Thinking or applying Design Thinking on their problems. This fall, I was able to come back to UCF to teach Design Thinking to LAS students (here you can find more information on the workshop).

Although the Mind and Brain study program is aimed at educating researchers and to prepare us for a PhD program, I am still unsure whether I want to do that forever. Design Thinking showed me that there are so many more interesting ways to go and - taken together with my LAS background - it equipped me with the right tools and inspiration to find my own path."

  • More information on her Design Thinking workshop is available on our News&Blog.

Lennart Hesse: Major Governance

Lennart in ValenciaLennart was part of the Liberal Arts and Sciences pioneer cohort and graduated from UCF with a major in Governance in 2016. After graduating, Lennart studied the Master’s in Management at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain. Since 2017, he has been working as Business Development Manager for an international IT company in Valencia, Spain. As of April 2018, Lennart is also acting as the official alumni ambassador for the University of Freiburg in Spain.

“During my undergraduate studies in Freiburg, I worked as student assistant to the rector of the University, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans-Jochen Schiewer. During this time, I became interested in the work within public administration and in the topic of leadership. However, I also wanted to build a profile that would allow me to work for a private enterprise. For this reason, and because I wanted to live and study abroad, I chose to study the Master’s in Management at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.

After my master’s, I accepted a job offer as Business Development Manager for an international IT company in Valencia because I wanted to gain further experience abroad and because my partner has been working as a resident physician at a hospital here. The position has been a great fit for me so far, because I have been given the opportunity to manage international projects in the field of VAT compliance. For example, I have been the company’s participation in the pilot project for electronic invoicing in Germany conducted by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.

In addition to my full-time job, I am acting as the University of Freiburg’s alumni ambassador in Spain. I first heard about the alumni association during my studies and they helped me to get in contact with an alumnus, who had been working as a diplomat, to find out about the career path. I, therefore, knew how important the alumni network is and how useful it can be for former students as well as for current students. Thus, I am very excited to act as a point of reference for current students and alumni and to inform them about the opportunities to study or work in Spain and to help establish the alumni network in the country. As part of that work, I am currently conducting a series of short interviews with alumni who are doing interesting projects, which will be published on the website of the alumni association soon.

In addition, I am frequently representing the alumni association at official events organized by the German Chamber of Commerce in Spain and the Germany Embassy in Spain. Chatting with the German ambassador of Spain and fellow alumni at those occasions are rewarding and guiding experiences for me. Therefore, I feel like the University of Freiburg has provided me with a lot of opportunities – even after my graduation.”