Steps towards more diversity and social justice

Thu, 10 Sep 2020 |, Aktuelles
Working group of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences gives the starting signal for a participatory development and learning process

The international orientation of the FHWS influences the everyday life of the university. People from different regions of the world come together at the university. A learning and working environment designed to be sensitive to diversity is therefore a pivotal factor in the success of the university's development and the success of the studies.

Surveys conducted in recent years at various universities in Germany show that diversity sensitivity and social justice cannot be taken for granted. In a survey of the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, 15.3 percent of the more than 5,000 students who participated stated that they had been discriminated against. In another study conducted by the University of Duisburg-Essen (2010), 8.9 percent of the 5,500 participants disclosed having been discriminated. In a research of the TH Mittelhessen (2014) with 1,632 participants, 11.3 percent had reported  discriminatory experiences.

In 2016, the Mercator Foundation executed a study on reasons for tertiary education dropout among students with a migration background. Among the respondents, 18 percent (dropouts) to 22 percent (graduates) stated that they had experienced discrimination on campus (Ebert & Heublein 2017).  In addition, the Black lives Matter movement and the ongoing protests against the structural discrimination of Persons of Color illustrate the importance of institutionally anchored anti-discrimination strategies and a reflective debate of the issue. 

Consequently, the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences has initiated a participatory development process that integrates students, lecturers, research assistants*, functionaries* and administrative staff.

The presentation of findings of an explorative qualitative study conducted by Antonia Tschierschke, a graduate of the FAS BA social work program, in the context of her Bachelor’s Thesis, provided an introduction to the first gathering of interested members of the faculty. During the summer semester of 2020, she had interviewed students of the BA program social work with migration experiences. The results of this study were now the starting point for a virtual workshop on diversity and anti-discrimination, which took place at the end of the summer semester 2020. Faculty members exchanged ideas on the way towards a diversity-sensitive and socially just university life. The current situation was explored and possible structural discrimination risks were discussed. The members of the workshop presented initial considerations on structural and institutional measures to be taken, reported on the need for specific awareness raising and trainings as well as about the necessity of collecting relevant baseline data. In addition, the need for reporting opportunities (e.g. ombudspersons or a complaints office) to ensure appropriate handling and processing of experiences of discrimination became clear. In particular, participating students with knowledge about and/or personal experience of discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin and/or gender formulated concrete needs.

The lively exchange, the dynamic discussions held and the large number of participants indicate the importance of a constructive debate on the subject matter. The process now initiated will be continued during the winter semester. The next steps include the development of first steps towards a diversity and anti-discrimination strategy and its implementation. The aim is to create a diversity-sensitive university life that recognizes existing diversity as a reality and counteracts discrimination in a preventive and pro-active manner. 

Interested parties from other faculties and organizational units of the FHWS are also welcome to participate in the exchange and process ahead. Interested parties are welcome to contact: anna-lisa.klages[at] 

Press contact:
Hochschule Würzburg-Schweinfurt
Katja Bolza-Schünemann (Klein)
Tiepolostr. 6
97070 Würzburg
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