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Diversity Days at Aschaffenburg UAS

woman welcomes students on Diversity Days

For three days, students and staff at Aschaffenburg UAS were able to learn about diversity, engage in dialogue and actively experience diversity.

From 27 to 29 May 2024, the first "Diversity Days" took place at Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences. The diverse programme was organised and coordinated on behalf of the university management by a small team led by the university's Women's Representative, Prof. Dr Kristina Balleis.

  • Professor Balleis and other guests listen to a speech

With this campaign, which is planned to be repeated annually, Aschaffenburg UAS is setting an example. In its mission statement, the university commits itself to diversity, mutual respect, equal opportunities, equality and participation - and puts this into practice. The Diversity Days make diversity visible and at the same time open up a space for university-wide exchange and discourse. The Women's Representative notes:

We are convinced that an open-minded university climate pays off in all dimensions of diversity. Different perspectives and skills enrich collaboration and enable creativity and success. That's why we want to recognise, promote and benefit from diversity.

Prof. Dr. Kristina Balleis

The organisation team consisted of the Women's Representative, the two Equal Opportunities Representatives, staff from the Family and Women's Office and Marketing, as well as the contact persons for anti-discrimination. Numerous offers from across the University and from all status groups were combined to create a varied programme in German and English. The spontaneous willingness to participate shows that the topic has resonated at the university.

From traffic signs of justice to intercultural online quizzes

On the way to the events, the "Traffic Signs of Justice" gave rise to discussions. The "Europe's Values Trail" was once again on display on campus. What is remarkable about the topic of diversity is that the European Union is united by the motto "United in Diversity". For a week, the canteen served dishes from all over the world and the library hosted a book exhibition on diversity. Students created an online intercultural quiz that took three days to complete.

  • a sign saying "justice" yes, "racism" no

    Traffic sign of justice on Aschaffenburg Campus.

  • students in conversation

    Students discussing diversity topics.

  • A cellphone screen showing language options

    A cellphone screen showing language options.

Monday began with an online lecture in English from AB-UAS partner university, the National Taipei University of Business in Taiwan, on "Must-know when doing business in Taiwan". In the afternoon, a lecture on "Diversity in Business Ethics - the Tension between Freedom, Justice and Benefit" opened the space for discussion on campus. The concluding online lecture on "Learning support at university: challenges and opportunities", the diversity dimension of physical and mental abilities was addressed.

Tuesday was filled with programmes on topics such as "AI and diversity", "Generation Y, Z, Alpha: Gendering, Wokeness, Cancel Culture", "Stress in study life? Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging through Blended Learning in Foreign Language Education" and "Gender aspects in research - even where you don't expect them!

Another key aspect of diversity is the interaction between people from different backgrounds. This was reflected in the intercultural get-together that brought together German and international students on campus on Tuesday evening. The social get-together was organised by the student representatives and accompanied by activities from the international Bachelor's degree course Software Design International, which were led by a professor. At 8 pm, all members of the university were invited to a film screening in the lecture theatre. “Oskar's Dress” (“Oskars Kleid”) was shown in the original German with English subtitles. A tragicomedy starring Florian David Fitz, it tells the fictional family story of a 9-year-old boy who considers himself transgender and goes by the name of Lili.

  • Several nation's flags on a glass wall
  • A green poster says "Go vote!"

    A green poster says "Go vote!"

Hands-on activity to empathise with physical limitations

On Wednesday, physical limitations and accessibility could be experienced live at the Aschaffenburg UAS. During this hands-on activity in front of the canteen, visitors were able to experience what it is like to reach the rooms of Aschaffenburg UAS in a wheelchair or pram, to find the right place on the campus blindly, or to experience the feeling of getting older or being pregnant. This was done realistically using simulation suits and goggles. Everyone was able to give feedback on how to improve the accessibility of the UAS in the future. Suggestions were also given on where and how to get help and support in case of limitations.

The Diversity Days ended with a "Who-How-What-Wednesday on the counselling services at the UAS", which provided a needs-oriented overview of the wide range of internal counselling services and the counselling guide, which also lists important external contact points.

The Diversity Working Group, which organised the Diversity Days, is very pleased with the results. Many students and employees took advantage of the three days to learn about the various dimensions of diversity, to become familiar with new aspects and to engage in dialogue.