Federal Minister Heinz Faßmann Visits International Festival University Students at the JKU and Ars Electronica

How can we respond to and address global challenges of our time and initiate change? How will we learn and study at universities in the future?

Bundesminister Faßmann mit Rektor Lukas beim Besuch der Festival University
Bundesminister Faßmann mit Rektor Lukas beim Besuch der Festival University

One hundred students from forty-one countries have been addressing these questions and more since August 30 during the first international Festival University program organized by the JKU and Ars Electronica and funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the state of Upper Austria in the amount of € 440,000. Federal Minister Heinz Faßmann recently visited the students at the LIT Factory at Johannes Kepler University Linz during a workshop about the "Circular Economy".

JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas explained: "The Festival University program welcomes one hundred students who have different personal stories and professional backgrounds. We not only want to give their vision a platform, we want to also encourage them to push professional boundaries and develop strategies on how to use new technologies and innovative tools to bring about sustainable change for the future. This will make the Festival University program a prototype for a 'university of the future' and serve as a forerunner for the new Technical University in Upper Austria. I am pleased that Federal Minister Heinz Faßmann visited us on-site today and has seen just how effective this program is for himself."

Federal Minister Heinz Faßmann and Markus Achleitner (Minister for Economics and Research in Upper Austria) welcomed approximately 15 grant recipients from the Festival University to the LIT Factory during a workshop about the circular economy and learned a bit more about research at the JKU’s LIT factory for themselves. The students learned about different machines for various procedural steps in the field of mechanical recycling and also had an opportunity to create frisbees made from sustainable plastic materials.

Federal Minister Heinz Faßmann added, "The Festival University program in Linz is a shining example of international connections among students and across national borders. I believe this environment will be conducive to exchange as well as bright, innovative ideas, resulting in proposals that can be implemented. This is exactly what a 'university of the future' should be trying to accomplish, namely developing new and internationally applicable solutions together."

State Minister Markus Achleitner: "The international Festival University program is a highly visible, innovative project showcasing Upper Austria as an academic location. 100 students from 41 countries around the world not only have an opportunity to focus on important, current issues and challenges, they can also learn more about what Upper Austria offers in terms of education. This is an important catalyst to inspire students from all over the world, especially our future Technical University for Digitalization and Digital Transformation."

Georg Steinbichler, head of the LIT Factory, is pleased that the LIT Factory is a venue for the Festival University program: "The LIT Factory at the Linz Institute of Technology is well-connected as a research factory that supports education, learning, smart plastics processing, digital transformation, plastics recycling and upcycling. We collaborate with approximately 25 corporate and industrial partners to address many important issues of our time: How can we re-design standard, well-established production, consumption, waste disposal and recycling patterns and incorporate the opportunities digitalization gives us in order to create a fact-based circular economy? Plastics have unique properties and allow us to play a greater role in moving towards a more sustainable and resource-efficient future. Today, the students not only experienced first-hand how an effective circular economy works, but also just how we can benefit when different disciplines, research, and real-world practices come together."

The Festival University program will take place at the JKU campus and online until September 17. Under the motto "Transform Your World", the 100 grant recipients between the ages of 16 and 24 from 41 countries around the world and different professional backgrounds will address important issues of our time. Whether it be global inequality, migration, climate change, or new technologies, the students - accompanied by top international scientists, managers and artists - will ask themselves how we can overcome global challenges and initiate change. The program participants are encouraged to push professional boundaries and think outside of the box as they attend hands-on workshops, interactive presentations, and exciting lectures on six key topics. One online group will continue to work on the topic of "Investigative Journalism" while the other five groups in Linz focus on issues such as "Autonomous Vehicles", "Circular Economy", "Creative Robotics", "Drones & Swarm Behavior" and "Transforming the Body".

The grant recipients will also be invited to attend this year's Ars Electronica Festival in Kepler's Garden at the JKU campus beginning on September 8. Gerfried Stocker, artistic director and managing director of Ars Electronica, noted: "We are organizing the 'Festival University' program with the JKU at the same time as this year's Ars Electronica for good reason, of course. It's a unique opportunity for students to meet and exchange ideas with artists, researchers and activists such as Josef Penninger, Franchesca Bria, Joi Ito, Leanne Kemp, and Kilian Kleinschmidt. This dialogue across disciplinary boundaries and industries reveals the 'bigger picture', making it possible to develop future sustainable solutions. I look forward to seeing what the program participants come up with and what their visions for education and studying in the 21st century look like."

On September 17, toward the end of the Festival University program, the participants will present their findings and ideas during an event on the main square in Linz and at the Ars Electronica Center.

About the Festival University

· The Festival University program is a blended, international summer university program initiated by the JKU and Ars Electronica.

· Time Period: August 30 to September 17, 2021

· Location: The first week of the program took place online, the second and third weeks of the program will take place on-site at the JKU campus.

· Participants:

o 100 students between the ages of 16 and 24 from 41 countries, including Egypt, Guatemala, Germany, Vietnam, USA, Montenegro and Austria, are taking part in the program. They received a grant that covers travel expenses, room and board.

o A total of 230 students applied for the 100 spots in the program.

o In lieu of travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, some participants were selected to take part in the program online.

· Program:

o The Festival University program focuses on how students can address and manage global challenges and initiate change.

o Hands-on workshops, interactive presentations, and exciting lectures with international experts, artists, scientists and managers (including Josef Penninger, Franchesca Bria, Joi Ito, Leanne Kemp, and Kilian Kleinschmidt) address new technologies, innovative (communication) tools, and encourage participants to push professional boundaries.

o The program includes excursions in and around Linz, such as to the voestalpine steel factory, the former concentration camp in Mauthausen, and the St. Florian Abbey.

o Detailed information: https://www.jku.at/en/festival-university, opens an external URL in a new window

· Funding: The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the state of Upper Austria are funding the Festival University program in the amount of € 440,000.

· Covid-19 Safety Protocols: The Festival University program will take place in accordance to the Austrian government’s COVID-19 guidelines. In addition, all program participants undergo regular Covid testing, even if they are fully vaccinated or immune. Students are tested at screening stations and oral rinse test kits are provided free of charge. Students are also required to adhere to social distancing rules and wear a face covering.