As an institute of higher education, Karlshochschule has a feminist orientation. Furthermore, Karls is committed to anti-racism. This means that an integral part of the Karlshochschule mission is to deepen our constituencies’ understanding of the various dimensions related to gender, diversity and inclusion of all, regardless of one’s gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnic background and nationality, faith and religion, age, mental and physical abilities, or any other characteristic making us unique. At Karlshochschule, we want to educate and debate on a range of theoretical and practical concepts that help to bring equality and social justice into our university, community and our constituencies’ personal, study and working spheres. We aim to increase the diversity of our student body and staff composition, make Karls home to everyone regardless of their intersecting identities and social positions, and enable each individual to contribute to their fullest by not only having home at Karls, but also the sense of having the voice to be heard. At least the following dimensions of feminist topics are on our agenda.
Global Sustainability Goals
Our feminist teaching directly relates to at least 10 out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals: poverty reduction, health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, work and economic development, industry and innovation, reduced inequality, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and peace, justice and strong institutions. In teaching, we make sense of how feminist approaches can help to reach these goals.
Teaching and Research
In our teaching, research and classroom interaction, feminism is attended through constructivist, critical and a non-essentialist methodology, while using and further developing the latest theoretical models and concepts, and empirical findings. Whereas we emphasise the most up to date approaches of the field in our teaching and research, we also recognise the historicity and specific contextual character of these topics. This includes their intersectional, postcolonial and non-binary character, among the earlier liberal and radical feminist approaches. Accordingly, students are invited to conduct research projects on gender, diversity and inclusion in a critical and innovative manner, and discouraged from resorting to ready-made solutions, which typically reproduce and enact destructive and unsustainable power relations. We encourage students to use similar approaches to research projects in other areas, too.
Participation, Voice and Empowerment
We want to enable and encourage students to participate, discover their own voice, and confidently use it to express themselves, decide on their life and career goals, and to question society’s existing power structures, including those at the university and work places, in media, the local culture surrounding them, and in politics.
Moreover, we encourage students to become role models within their community and as they enter their professional lives, in that they integrate inclusivity in all their behaviour, starting from hearing out and respecting the voice of others in classrooms and meetings, and choosing how they speak of and depict other people.
Besides the teaching approaches described above, this is offered by adequate support systems, networks and events at the university. All of them are designed to foster inclusion at the university and the wider community. We want to challenge our constituencies to question and reflect on their views and behaviour on on-going basis, and lead by example.
Finally, to enable participation, we disseminate information on capabilities and tools to combat abuse and violence, discrimination and suppression in study, personal and professional spheres. We aim to provide a safe and inclusive study and working environment to all. This includes having sufficient and confidential mechanisms to attend to any breaches of students’ or staff members’ personal space and integrity. Further, we teach understanding and combatting destructive behaviour and empowering oneself and others, and train our staff and students in recognising their own microaggressive patterns and practices.
The following concrete actions are meant to extend the inclusive mindset to different spheres of Karlshochschule activities, including, but not restricted, to the following:
- Feminist modules are included in the design of the study programs.
- Throughout the curricula, the existing modules reflect the above-described topics, principles and/or approaches.
- Our library collection is constantly complemented by new publications on the topics.
- Training of the Karls staff and students to have inclusive mindset in all behaviour in and out of classroom. Such as: hearing out, respecting and including each individual in situations of interaction, ensuring teaching and communication materials are inclusive (language, imagery).
- Zero tolerance to hate speech, increased sensitivity to (what consists of) sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-semitic etc. use of language
- Increasing our understanding of the multiplicity of gender and sexual identities among students and staff. Strengthening the visibility of the LGTBQI+ people, community and topics in our teaching and communication.
- Implementing the gender-neutral use of language in all newly written documents and website pages from here on.
- Educating staff and students on the gender-neutral use of language.
- Events and student initiatives for educating, sharing and fostering critical self-reflection on privilege and marginalisation within the Karls’ and local community on all the different topics related to gender, diversity and inclusion. The events include, but are not limited to, the yearly Karls Pride to make our LGTBQI+ community more visible and bring awareness to different topics related to gender and sexual identities; events thematising racism in society in general and academia in particular, and spreading awareness on our anti-racist approach, experiences of racism and racial marginalisation, such as critical whiteness workshops; lectures and workshops on gender based violence, abuse and sexual harassment, and microaggressions, including self-empowerment training to victims and awareness training to allies, critical masculinity workshops, digital discussions on mental wellbeing, disability, women leadership; autonomous student discussion and empowerment groups on the range of topics.
- Reaching out to and networking with the local, national and international academic and business community, media and interest groups. We want to position ourselves as the experts and even opinion leaders in the German speaking academia on the topic.
- Guest speakers and shared experiences in the classrooms and staff meetings on the different diversity topics.
- Confidential mentoring to individuals on all topics related to personal and study challenges, mental wellbeing, gender, diversity and inclusion, and experiences of abuse and marginalisation.
- The staff at Karls is committed to further education and constant self-reflection on the topics related to gender, diversity and inclusion. New theories and knowledge are integrated into the teaching and research. Institutional policies and decisions are made through the lens of gender mainstreaming, awareness to privilege and marginalisation, care ethics and inclusivity of all.
- Our lecturers engage in educating communities worldwide on the stated topics in form of voluntary engagements, workshops and public lectures.