29/04/2022 | Iris Dücker and Dr. Andreas Gutmann from the University of Bremen were honoured with this year’s "CAMPUS AWARD: Research for a Sustainable Future". Prospective teacher Iris Dücker from Loxstedt near Bremerhaven received the prize for her Master's thesis on digital teaching materials that provide a better understanding of sustainability and modern agriculture. Legal scholar Dr Andreas Gutmann was recognised for his dissertation on the rights of "nature or pacha mama" in the Ecuadorian constitution.
The award is jointly presented each year by the KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION FOR THE CLIMATE AND THE ENVIRONMENT, the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), the University of Bremen Alumni Network, and the University of Bremen. The winners of the year 2021/22 were honored at a ceremony on Thursday, April 28, 2022, at the University of Bremen. They received prize money totaling 3,000 Euros.
Frogs Suing Their Country - How Does That Work?
"Hybrid Legal Subjectivity: The Rights of 'Nature or Pacha Mama' in the Ecuadorian Constitution of 2008" (“Hybride Rechtssubjektivität: Die Rechte der ,Natur oder Pacha Mama‘ in der ecuadorianischen Verfassung von 2008”) - this is the title of the law dissertation by Dr. Andreas Gutmann. Behind it, for example, is the story of the frog species Atelopus Longirostris, which successfully sued against a mining project in Ecuador. Why were the frogs able to sue? "Because the rights of nature have been anchored in the Ecuadorian constitution since 2008," explains Andreas Gutmann.
In his work, the legal scholar has intensively studied the history of the development of the Ecuadorian constitution and found that it is shaped by various and sometimes contradictory influences. These contradictions are not eliminated, however, but rather elevated to a constitutional principle, as it were. Indigenous philosophy plays a prominent role, as it encounters a European-influenced legal system. Thus, indigenous ideas are adopted and transferred to the present time.
"Important contribution to the greening of law"
"Mr. Gutmann's work makes a groundbreaking contribution to the understanding of Ecuadorian rights of nature," said his supervisor, Professor Andreas Fischer-Lescano of the University of Bremen. He stated that it is the first law-based monograph on the subject outside of the Latin American nation. "With his work, Andreas Gutmann not only presented an outstanding analysis for Ecuador, but also points out ways for our understanding of the law here to give more legal space to the rights of nature and to advance environmental protection from nature itself as its own legal entity," his reviewer said. He made an important contribution to the ecologization of law.
In his laudation, Professor Raimund Bleischwitz, scientific director of the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) and member of the jury, stated: "The recent ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court on the Climate Protection Act already shows a change in thinking in the German legal system. Ecuador, however, is going further. With his experience from Ecuador, Mr. Gutmann can contribute to a change in thinking here as well, and to greater consideration of the rights of nature. Environmental and climate protection in our country are strongly influenced by legislation and can only succeed if the framework conditions are right."
"Receiving the CAMPUS AWARD is a great honor for me," said the recipient. "I am very pleased about the attention that my work on Ecuadorian rights of nature is receiving in this way. I think it is extremely important that legal developments from the global South are increasingly taken note of in Germany and Europe. Important legal innovations can be found there that may help us to counteract the environmental crises of our time - to the emergence of which law itself has contributed in no small measure."
Pupils Immerse Themselves in the Life of a Farming Family in Northern Germany
When Iris Dücker prepared her teaching project for her master's thesis in biology didactics during the pandemic, she had to respond to the special circumstances and think digitally. In terms of content, an agricultural topic was close to her heart, as she herself grew up on a farm in the district of Cuxhaven. How could she combine the two? The answer was a so-called "reflectory" that she developed herself. This is a digital learning environment in the form of a story in which students immerse themselves. In the process, they have to repeatedly make decisions on their own and thus determine the course of the story. Specifically, Iris Dücker's digital teaching concept focused on the daily challenges of a farming family in northern Germany and how to think about sustainable agriculture. She conducted the reflectory in an 11th grade class at Lloyd Gymnasium Bremerhaven. The data for the award-winning master's thesis was also collected there.
"Ms. Dücker shows how mediation works in modern teaching"
"The award winner has succeeded in bringing an often controversial topic into the classroom with an independently developed, innovative tool," said her supervisor, Professor Doris Elster from the University of Bremen. "In this way, the students not only acquire technical knowledge, but also strengthen their decision-making skills." With her work, the award winner shows how teaching can be carried out in modern classrooms. She is making an important contribution to the next generation and to the acceptance of farming activities.
Jury member and award presenter Professor Jutta Günther, Vice President Research and elected future president of the University of Bremen, said: "Modern agriculture is central to the achievement of the sustainability goals. Ms. Dücker created comprehensible transparency for students between the challenges of sustainability and the associated courses of action as well as constraints of modern agriculture." She implemented "think globally, act locally" in an exemplary manner with her reflectory.
"Education is the root for developing a sustainable way of life"
"It is important to me to start a movement with my work to gradually bring education for sustainable development - especially on life-related topics - into focus and establish it in schools," says award winner Iris Dücker. "After all, education is the root for developing a sustainable way of life and thus preserving the environment."
The CAMPUS AWARD
The "CAMPUS AWARD: Research for a Sustainable Future" is jointly awarded by the KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION FOR THE CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT, the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), the University of Bremen Alumni Network, and the University of Bremen. The award is endowed with 3,000 Euros in total. It is intended to highlight sustainability research on campus and honors researchers and graduates of the University of Bremen in the categories "Dissertation" and "Master's Thesis."
Impressions from this year's award ceremony | Photos: Matej Meza, Universität Bremen / ZMT
Dr. Rita Kellner-Stoll und Reiner Stoll
KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION FOR THE CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT