1st Liberal Education Student Symposium

From April 13 to April 15 2018, the 1st Liberal Education Student Symposium (LESS), a student-organized symposium based on participant contributions, took place in a Black Forest hut near Freiburg.


“I was inspired by keynotes and contributions but especially by the instant curiosity and willingness to learn that brought each participant to a small hut in the Schwarzwald.”

“A space filled with positivity and visions for the future. Lively in debate and thoughtful in contemplation. I am very grateful to be part of this community and I am looking forward to future symposia.”


LESS – Final Report

Ros McDermott – Collective Souvenir

François Stockart – On our (Black Forest) way to the education of tomorrow



14.05: A final report of the symposium is now available. Moreover, the reflections of students are also available now.

15.04: We all had a fantastic weekend and are looking forward to seeing everyone again on future occasions. Thanks for making the smyposium such a brilliant experience!

11.04: We send you an email with important last information. Please check your inbox.

25.03: We have published the program and sent it around via email. You can also access it here: LESS Program. Please read it carefully and prepare for the events you want to attend.

27.02: Admission emails have been sent out and we are currently in the process of assessing proposals and scheduling. If you haven’t heard from us yet, you should get in touch as the email address you entered might be faulty.


Download the full program with event descriptions here: LESS Program.


The theme of the symposium will be “Education F(r)ees or Freeing Education? The Interdependencies Between Liberal Education and Politics in Theory and Practice.” The academic gathering will encompass a range of student-organized discussions, workshops, and activities about the political and social impact of Liberal Education, its role in society, and its potential for shaping public life. However, these projects are not limited to simply an academic focus.

Emphasizing the principles of collaboration and bottom-up organization, all events and projects will be organized and led by participating students in order to collectively create a diverse and interesting program. The Outreach Committee will organize general events, coordinate the participant-led activities, and provide the accommodation.

Documents and forms

LESS – Conference Program

LESS – Final Report

LESS – Concept Paper

LESS – Registration Form

LESS – Registration Information


What Do We Mean by “Studying Freely”?

Isaiah Berlin – Two concepts of liberty

Higher Education in 2040

Bert van der Zwaan – Higher Education in 2040

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mass Education

Karl Popper Format of Debate

Dystopia ≠ Utopia = Liberal Education?

George Orwell – 1984

A Future That Works? Liberal Arts and Digitalization

David H Autor – Why Are There Still So Many Jobs

McKinsey – Technology, Jobs and the Future of Work

Brynjolfsson, Erik and Andrew McAfee – Jobs Productivity and the Great Decoupling

Participant contribution

All applicants are required to propose at least one contribution to the symposium. There are two main kinds of contributions that will be asked for in the application form, namely contributions to the symposium’s program and contributions to the organizational part of the symposium (e.g. cooking, cleaning). We would love to see people get active in both ways but emphasize that participants should follow their interests.

We highly encourage applicants to propose academic contributions as they are a fantastic opportunity to develop their skills and to mutually share knowledge and experience with other people in a setting they devise. The symposium is open to various forms of program contributions such as workshops, social activities, projects, discussions, films, or even lectures. However, all academic contributions should pertain to the symposium’s topic of “Education F(r)ees or Freeing Education? – The Interdependencies Between Liberal Education and Politics in Theory and Practice”. As time frame of a single contribution we suggest 90 min to two hours. The design of the contributions is entirely up to the applicants and we encourage creativity in choice of topic and manner of contribution to make the program as varied as possible. Furthermore, there is the opportunity to assign reasonable (!) preparatory activities (e.g. readings, assignments) to the participants. Note that applicants can propose up to three contributions in a group or alone but should keep in mind that they will have to bear the required commitment and effort for their own contributions. The goal of program contributions should be to critically enrich people’s perspectives on and experiences of Liberal Education in regards to its political implications and consequences.

In order to enable creative and successful contributions, we aim to provide all material that is necessary and there will be a basic supply of stationery equipment (paper, pens, etc.). If you should require any more supplies for your contribution that you are not able to provide yourself, please specify them on the registration form. We will attempt to acquire these and get in touch with you.

The LESS can be your opportunity to have the first experience giving a talk about tuition fees and how they affect students and their educational potential or leading a film screening and discussion on political implications of (liberal) education. Maybe you know a drama game that visualizes freedom conceptions and want to discuss parallels between education and politics along those lines of “freedom”. Alternatively, you could explore the role of the state in different political theories and how Liberal Education might impact it or be impacted by it. How about the potential of Liberal Education to mobilize populations towards critical and responsible action? Anyway, get creative and try yourself out!


Each participant will be required to bring a cash deposit of 25€ in an envelope with your name and address that will be returned once the hut is over. We will try to make the event free of charge for participants. Nevertheless, be prepared to pay for your own travel as reimbursement will only be possible in case of sufficient sponsoring.

Venue: The Kandelblickhütte

The “Kandelblickhütte” near Vöhrenbach in the Black Forest, Germany will hold our symposium from 13 until 15 April. This includes all events, the accomodation and the meals. The self-catering hut is at 977m above sea level and has proper beds in mixed dorms for 34 people, a large common room and a kitchen as well as a fireplace and a games room. Outside you can find a large barbecue area and a fantastic view! The hut provides no Wifi internet but mobile internet (phone signal) is available. Of course, we will use the opportunity to go on (academic) excursions into the black forest. A closer description (in German) can be found on their website: http://www.kandelblickhuette.de/


Travel needs to be personally arranged. We organized a car pool among participants leaving from Freiburg im Breisgau to the hut. Otherwise, participants can use public transport to reach Vöhrenbach and then walk from there.

Contact: studentsoutreach@ucf.uni-freiburg.de

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