Speech at the Graduation Ceremony 2016 

Dear friends and members of the University of Freiburg, dear current and former staff of the University College Freiburg, dear families and most importantly, dear graduates,

On behalf of the studentscouncil, I would like to congratulate you on your bachelor degrees. You did it. You did, what we still have to accomplish.

You started this programme four years ago, excited about the journey ahead and possibly a little bit nervous. A few challenges lay ahead, one being how to explain what you are studying to other people. In the following years you would explore subjects ranging from Narrating Animal Minds to Maths and Physics and you had space to discover that very topic that you were passionate about.

You might have been lost at times, but you did not give up. You didn’t give up the belief that “this all is good for something” and you might have learned a lot about the relativity of beliefs but this was one that stayed around and turned out to be very true. We fast forward four years and here you are, holding your Bachelor degrees in your hands, carrying a smile and possibly little tear.

In 2015, Dr Teun Dekker gave a guest lecture at UCF, called “Democracy, Discourse and Philosophy: Do politicians earn too much”. I have to apologise, Dr Dekker, much of what you lectured about had to be pushed out of my brain to make some space, but one sentence you said, resonated with me: Liberal Arts and Sciences does not teach you what to think, it teaches you how to think.

Liberal Arts and Sciences might be difficult to explain and it seems a bit vague at times. But it does give you space to explore how to think. If you look back at your pre-LAS time you realise that the years at UCF might have changed who you are. First, all your beliefs were scratched, then you learned how to approach and break down complex problems. Next, you were able to form beliefs again but this time, you had used the heuristics that LAS gave you to come to your conclusions.

However, I am sure that you have heard a lot about LAS in the past years, days and hours and so the only one thing left and I am positive all fellow LAS students agree, on behalf of them and heart-felt, I would like to say thank you.

In many ways, we are here because of you. You, just like our lecturers were our teachers.

Thank you for laying the foundation for an active and close students’ body. You taught us that flat hierarchies amongst students were desirable and you were the ones to first establish a close staff student community including the Christmas punch, Feuerzangenbowle and Peterhof celebrations. This community is something which makes us unique and which is valued so very much.

Thank you for showing us that, yes, it is perfectly fine to take classes in social psychology, political philosophy and human anatomy simultaneously. You showed us that our interests are not set in stone – they develop and, yes, sometimes they happen to switch lanes.

Thank you for being so very engaged at UCF. The committees you founded – Global Order and Outreach, Ecoalas and Open Space, let alone the engagement for the reading room, we’ll make sure to keep the spirit in our hearts.

Thank you for shaping the programme for us and with us. For searching debate and change. You are our role models and you give us hope that we when we finish this programme, we will have an answer to the so often asked “and what are you actually going to do with that Liberal Arts thing?”

It is now time to start a new chapter which might be titled Oxford, gap year in Chile or working for a feminist NGO. And we, your fellow students could not be more excited on how it turns out. We hope that you will continue to shape your environment in the way you did with us, we hope that you continue to thrive and inspire those around you and of course, we hope that you will look back at UCF, that you will look back at Freiburg and be content.

Dear graduates, we wish you all the best for the future.

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