University-Wide Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning
In fall 2008, the Leonardo project was launched on the Senate’s initiative. The project involves using interdisciplinary cooperation to enable students to discuss global challenges and develop solutions beyond departmental boundaries. Three fundamental principles apply to encouraging and empowering students to actively shape the future: All students should be able to participate and actively contribute to solving global challenges, interdisciplinary approaches are fundamental to solving future issues, and responsibility for science, research and teaching must be integrated into the university discourse.
Leonardo courses are offered each semester on a wide range of topics focusing on global challenges. Over recent years, there has been a continual increase in the number of sustainability-related topics such as presentations on the UN Sustainable Development Goals or the climate crisis.
Far more than 1,000 students participate in the project each semester. Around 15 alternating instructors assist in these courses in addition to their teaching obligations at the Faculty. They are supported by a central administrative team and a scientific board. At a structural level, the Leonardo project is currently embedded in the central interdisciplinary platform HumTec. This serves to give the aspect of interdisciplinary teaching greater prominence and to expand on the project offerings. As well as increasing the number of total spots and topics available, there is also a focus on maintaining diverse teaching formats.
Structurally speaking, the greatest challenge for the project is integrating these offers into course curricula. Whereas some faculties have already taken on leading roles in this area, and have integrated free electives into program structures (e.g. civil/environmental engineering), many students have thus far not been able to receive credit for participating in the project. However, there are plans for more degree programs to include project participation in their curricula in the future.