Thanks to an initiative by Marion Laging and Thomas Heidenreich from the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences, a network for university stakeholders in the German-speaking region was established in 2017. In a position paper, which was later published in the journal Sozial Extra, the following challenges and goals can be found (cf. Laging 2018:58 ff.), which are still relevant:
- There is no structural inclusion of experiential experts* in higher education in German-speaking countries, neither in teaching nor in the organization of studies.
- Teaching-learning arrangements for the involvement of experiential knowledge need to be (further) developed. The conception as well as the search and negotiation of experiential experts needs extra resources for all involved.
- Students and practitioners should also be involved in the planning and reflection of new teaching-learning arrangements.
- In addition to improving teaching, the involvement of experiential knowledge affects fundamental value orientations and power relations in the respective higher education organizations. For a common understanding on this, defined places/committees are needed where a corresponding mission statement is developed and recorded in structural and development plans.
- For university faculty, the challenge is to recruit and continuously develop teaching-learning arrangements with experiential experts, as they are rarely organized. While there are some strong self-organizations and representations, the selection of experiential experts to be heard in higher education can become an ethical and political issue due to the risk of reproducing power relations, discrimination, or stereotyping. Therefore, it is necessary to find out how organized self-advocacy and self-organizations are in the German-speaking countries and, if necessary, to understand it as a task to promote them (as, for example, the reformed Social Code – Book VIII demands in § 4a for child and youth welfare).
- Since there are only individual activities at individual universities in the German-speaking region, international exchange and networking are particularly important.
Our current activities
The network meets regularly online in different compositions and regularly looks for platforms to provide a stage for contributions to experiential knowledge. There are no rules of procedure, elected spokesperson roles, or other formalized processes. The network’s reach depends on publications by individual members. In addition, a newsletter is published once a year. For more information, please write to Bettina Müller or Marlene-Anne Dettmann.