Summerschool Grindelwald 2018
Building on the already established cooperation between the master’s programmes PLEP (Bern), EELP (Bochum) and PELP (Graz) of the past years, another summer school took place from the 3rd to the 8th of June 2018 in the guest and conference house Lauchbühl (Grindelwald) in the Bernese Oberland. In the setting of the Swiss Alps, students and teachers alike had the opportunity to get to know each other, network, and discuss current issues in Political Philosophy in English. The main topics of the summer school were moral psychology and democratic theory, global poverty and consumer ethics, human rights as well as migration and the debate around international freedom of movement.
Every day, on average, three 90 minutes sessions took place, during which either the teachers gave an overview of their topics or we discussed texts which had been given to the students for reading a few weeks prior to the summer school. Additionally, everyone could join hikes or other sporting and social activities. This gave lecturers and students alike the possibility to share thoughts on and beyond political philosophy in a more informal setting.
On Monday Dr. Norbert Paulo (Graz) introduced us into the debate around (hypothetical) biomedical means of human moral enhancement. The main focus was what implications the use of such means would have for democratic theory. Thus, one of the questions we discussed concerned the psychological conditions necessary for a functioning democracy.
On Tuesday, guided by Prof. Corinna Mieth (Bochum), we engaged in questions connected to the problem of global poverty – based on the critical discussion of pertinent texts by Peter Singer and Thomas Pogge. In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to further pursue these and other matters in an informal way during a short group hike.
On Wednesday Prof. Markus Stepanians (Bern) introduced us to the current debate regarding human rights and their philosophical justification. Furthermore, Prof. Mieth presented her thoughts on consumer ethics. This session provided us with the opportunity to immerge into issues which arose in the previous sessions, concerning questions of the ethical responsibility to relieve world poverty.
On Thursday Prof. Anna Goppel (Bern) invited us to discuss whether prior residence in a state should serve as a condition for obtaining the right to vote in that state. In the next session, Dr. Andreas Cassee (Bern) gave an overview of the diverse positions within the debate of international freedom of movement and presented an argument for open borders. In the context of this debate, we also critically discussed an article by Michael Blake, in which he argues for a (presumptive) right of states to exclude unwanted would-be immigrants.
On our last day, Friday, we discussed what conditions can be deemed necessary or sufficient when it comes to the conceptualisation of refugeehood. During a short closing session, everyone had the opportunity to give feedback concerning the content and form of the summer school. After lunch, we went on our journey back home with a backpack full of new thoughts and experiences.
The summer school was very interesting and instructive for the students as well as for the teachers and we all had a lot of fun. We hope for a continuation of the summer school in the upcoming years, since the opportunity to connect and interchange ideas with a diverse range of students and lecturers is a wonderful experience, benefiting every participant.
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