2022-2023 winter semester: how universities remain resilient in times of crisis

The 2022/23 winter semester is approaching and with it the semester in which we will have to continue the innovations of the previous semesters, the transformation into a university for the future. Universities and colleges have learned a lot during the four so-called digital semesters. The changes initiated are not limited to the much-discussed area of ​​learning and teaching or further developments in research and science, which have so far been difficult to assess. Changes in universities as an organization are also fundamental. I’m not just thinking about the fact that we succeeded to digitize all university activities in the shortest possible timebut above all to a new culture and new forms and formats of cooperation, such as the arena I described, which developed during the crisis years.

The corona pandemic was a practical test of the resilience of the science-based university, as described by 2021. Science Council. Nevertheless, we have emerged stronger from the pandemic thanks to our agile and flexible way of working. This development allows universities to confidently address new crises, such as the impending energy crisis.

When the start of pandemic-related quarantines two and a half years ago, universities had to react quickly in unknown territory, the University of Cologne succeeded in developing new formats and agile organizational structures. By involving all actors, status groups and areas, we creatively developed solution strategies and tools together that were based on comprehensive experiences and supported by all. In addition, we rely on transparent and dialog-oriented communication to protect everyone involved from uncertainty and excessive demands and offer them as many perspectives as possible in these challenging times.

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It is essentially a focus on the people in the ‘university’ institution and their well-being. As part of the European University for Well-being, the University’s strategic guidelines include increasing and promoting well-being. We can do this first by constantly communicating with representatives of all the member groups of the university. In this way, we are informed of the need for action at an early stage and can provide suggestions such as comprehensive company and student health management, sports offers and networking opportunities or psychotherapeutic support.

Energy saving measures for the winter semester

With this in mind, it is important for the University of Cologne to ensure campus activities, especially teaching and learning activities on campus, and to limit them to a minimum, regardless of any measures that may be necessary, in the coming semester. Closing Year has made it clear to us that studying is much more than completing teaching and learning activities and that campus life is an important part of the study period. Nevertheless, the university is at the same time working to improve the basic conditions of digital education, for example in terms of assignments and guidelines.

In another energy task force based on the model of the Corona Crisis Management Team, the University of Cologne developed a comprehensive, evidence-based energy saving concept covering all areas that does not shift the burden to students and the resulting digital transition. training, if at all, is considered only as a last resort. With the measures described in it, we want to significantly reduce energy consumption, ideally below the 20 percent required by the state saving, lowering. Specifically, we will, for example, adjust the heating period, reduce the heating temperature and supply hot water only where it is needed. Awareness of the need to save energy and recourse to individual initiative are the basis of solidarity in winter, which can be full of obstacles.

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In the midst of acute crisis management, we are constantly improving, future-oriented strategic planning of the field of study and training, which includes the path to system accreditation. In this context, the corona pandemic has become a catalyst for the processes that have already been started for an innovative, forward-looking and holistic…

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