IGCS organized DAAD Alumni Networking Event on “Globalization, sustainability, lifestyles – Think globally, act locally” held on 6-7th November 2014 at IIT Madras in Chennai, India
This two-day DAAD-funded Alumni Networking event for Indian DAAD Alumni scholars was co-organized by the two German IGCS Professors, Dr. Franziska Steinbruch and Dr. Christoph Woiwode, Prof. Dr. B.S. Murty, the Acting Centre Coordinator IGCS, IITM, and Ms. Padma and Mr. Prashanth of the DAAD Regional Office in Chennai.
Fourteen Alumni attended the meeting, which was enriched by contributions from the two invited Indian resource persons, Aarti Mohan, Editor-in-Chief of The Alternative in Bangalore, and Lalit Kishor Bhati, Architect and Urban Planner from Auroville as well as the German resource person, Dr. Till Stellmacher, Senior Researcher at Centre for Development Research in Bonn, Germany.
The role of these experts was, first, each of them contributed with his/her professional knowledge in the fields of globalization, sustainability and lifestyles from different angles and cultural backgrounds and thus contributed to setting the stage and guide discussions. Second, all of them had experience with interactive methods in workshops and thus acted as process facilitators as the IGCS organizing team explored different tools for interactive learning and sharing. The networking was developed around shared ideas and concerns guided by keywords such as Globalization, Sustainability, Accountability and Transparency, Global crises, Lifestyles, Culture, and Social Responsibilities. On the first afternoon the event was shifted to a different scene. The participants were taken to the Sustainability Museum (“Suseum”) in Nungambakkam in Chennai, where a guided tour was provided by Ms. Uma, Director, through the many different elements of lifestyles, sustainable living and how each one can make choices and changes in the personal behaviour towards sustainable living. An example of how such individual lifestyle changes can gain societal and political range was mentioned by Dr. Stellmacher who pointed out that the famous German “Energiewende” was a result of several decades of societal adjustment during which environmental consciousness and sustainability became mainstreamed at societal level. The workshop continued with some brainstorming discussions in the installations of the Sustainability Museum (Figure 2).
The second day was reserved for analyses and discussions generated by the participants during an exercise called World Café. The participants then centred their discussion on three fairly complex questions which were the results of the brainstorming session of the previous day. Each participant could choose to join a “café” table discussion for some time and then to roam to the next “café” table, where another discussion was going on (Figure 3).
The IGCS team found that an interactive and intuitive process of exchanging ideas works well in a facilitated environment with participants of different career stages and background.
Many participants left inspired and expressed their wish to follow up on what was discussed during the workshop. For that purpose the participants created a facebook page. Many highlighted that the platform for networking through this kind of workshop was very good and that it could have been extended for one or two more days. Many found the workshop program wonderful and recognized that the interactive approach was very new to them and that it helped creating a constructive atmosphere for learning and sharing.