Kick-off: Alumni-Network for Transformers

Text by Ole Gärtner

Several degree programs deal with social transformation and the (im)possibility of their design. Especially social-ecological transformation and its democratic design are important to many graduates. This often means that the prospect of seeking employment in existing and established businesses and structures designed to compete, grow, and maximize profits seems not so promising. However, the actors of socio-ecological transformation must also make a living. And although the demand is steadily rising everywhere, corresponding occupational fields are not yet sufficiently developed.

On May 15, about 40 students, alumni, lecturers and professors from different study programs gathered in an online-event to collectively work on these issues and to establish a network for long-term exchange and support. The meeting was organised by members of M.A. Eco-social design at Free University Bolzano, B.A. Management of Social Innovations / M.A. Societal Change and Participation at Munich University of Applied Sciences and M.A. Transformation Design at the Braunschweig University of Arts. The goal was, to start an alumni network for graduates. Students and alumni from other study courses joined, among them MA Transformation Studies (University of Flensburg), MA Public Interest Design (University of Wuppertal), and the MA Social Design (Angewandte Vienna).

The participants of the kick-off came from Italy, Germany, Austria, Macedonia and even Outer Space! Screenshot from a Mentimeter poll done during the meeting
Not only various locations were represented but also various different and still somehow connected study courses. Screenshot from a Mentimeter poll done during the meeting

The meeting was very rich in thoughts, ideas, and discussion. Several challenges were addressed. They ranged from inadequate employment structures, a lack of diversity and unreflected privileges in the community, the challenge to communicate one’s competencies to the need for exchange and connection in general, and many more.  

Some first ideas that the participants came up with were: a community funding system, a mentoring system, Transformation-conferences, a Mini-Erasmus program, a transformation hub or a post-master incubator, an online-community. Of course, the purpose of an alumni-network can be a lot more. The initiative relies on self-organisation – it will be up to its members how the network evolves. The meeting showed that there is great potential for the network. 

Screenshot from the Miro board created during the meeting
Screenshot from the Miro board created during the meeting

As an outcome of the kick-off-event, a group for organising the next meeting was formed. Furthermore, some infrastructure will be implemented, so that people can communicate and share information. In the next meeting, we will decide which ideas for the network we will focus on in the beginning. We would be very excited when you join us, too!  The network is open for everybody who is trained in the transformation towards a more sustainable, just, and democratic future. 

Please spread the word about the network with anyone who could be interested in the exchange! 

If you know any study programs that are not yet represented in the network, give us a quick note here.

If you want to participate, sign up for the mailing list here.