About Project "Leonardo"

Short History

In the fall of 2008, Project „Leonardo“ was launched on the initiative of the Senate and its long-standing chairman Prof. Dr. Max Kerner. After a successful trial phase of about two years, the project was further expanded. “Leonardo” was assigned institutionally and organizationally to the VDI professorship for futurology at the Institute for Political Science from the winter semester 2010/11 onwards. In the winter semester 2013/14, Prof. Dr. Richter (Institut for Political Science) assumed responsibility for the project as rectorate representative. Since the winter semester 2018/19, Ann-Kristin Winkens (M.Sc.) is the executive manager.

In January 2018, Project “Leonardo” received the RWTH Teaching Award 2017 in the category “Project”. The Rectorate Commission for Quality Management in Teaching and the Rectorate award this prize once a year “for outstanding and exemplary achievements in teaching”.

The Senate of RWTH Aachen University has formed an advisory board for the further development of the study concept. In addition to Prof. Dr. Richter, Prof. Dr. Max Kerner and the chairman of the AStA, the advisory board includes professors from various faculties who have so far been involved in the “Leonardo” project with their own courses.

What is a "Leonardo" Course?

A central characteristic of “Leonardo” courses is that usually two lecturers from different scientific cultures offer a course that focuses on social challenges and aims to reach students of all faculties. Our lecturers come from the natural and engineering sciences, medicine, cultural sciences and humanities as well as economics and social sciences. Until now, courses have been offered, for example on the following topics: Energy, climate change, world population and health, flight and migration, intercultural dialog and organ replacement.

Goals of Project "Leonardo"

Beyond the departmental boundaries, the students in the “Leonardo” project will get to know different ways of thinking and approaches of different disciplines through joint, interdisciplinary work. In addition, they should also get into conversation with fellow students from other faculties and fields of study at RWTH Aachen University and thus experience “universitas” in its original (Latin) meaning as a scientific community.

Why the Name Project "Leonardo"?

The project’s name reminds of the great artist, natural scientist and technician Leonardo da Vinci, the universal genius of the Renaissance, but at the same time it refers to the philosopher Jürgen Mittelstraß, who coined the term “Leonardo-World”. This term characterizes our present as a combination of theoretical knowledge and technical skill. Thus, the Leonardo world is confronted with special challenges that can only be met by combining the different approaches and disciplines of the natural sciences, engineering, humanities and social sciences.

In its future concept “RWTH 2020 – Meeting Global Challenges”, the RWTH has set itself precisely this task – the “Leonardo“ project sees itself as a building block in this process. It also forms part of the RWTH Aachen University’s future concept, “Students at the Center of Excellence”, which is funded in the “Excellent Teaching” competition.

The "Leonardo"-Lecture

Another element of the project “Leonardo“ is an annual public lecture – a “Leonardo” lecture in which an outstanding personality addresses a social challenge in its wider context. Since 2014, the Leonardo Lecture has been under the patronage of the Rector of RWTH Aachen University.

Previous Guests

2018 – Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister of France (Winner of the Charlemagne Prize 2018)

2017 – Prof. Dr. Timothy Garton Ash (Winner of the Charlemagne Prize 2017)
2016 – Prof. Dr. Dr. Udo Di Fabio, Federal Constitutional Judge a. D.
2015 – Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert, President of the German Parliament
2014 – Prof. Timothy Garton Ash (ommited du to illness)
2013 – Prof. Dr. Volkwin Marg (Architect office  Gerkan, Marg and Partner)
2012 – Wolfgang Günter Lerch (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
2011 – Prof. Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, Senator a. D.

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