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The JKU is Creating a 'Circus of Knowledge'

The Johannes Kepler University Linz is creating space for kids to use all of their senses and experience the world.

Modell des Zirkus des Wissens. Credit: Architekten Luger und Maul.
Circus of Knowledge model. Photo credit: Luger and Maul Architects

The JKU is creating a “Zirkus des Wissens” (Circus of Knowledge) in the Schloss courtyard, transforming the area to a place of amazement and surprising discoveries. To mark his recent retirement, former JKU Rector Richard Hagelauer is providing the external funding to make the project possible.

In addition to teaching and research, universities have a third mission to convey knowledge to the public and the business community. The Johannes Kepler University Linz is strongly committed to its third mission and supports the LIT Open Innovation Center, the Open Lab, the “KinderUniLinz” summer program, the Kepler Tribune, and the Kepler Salon.

The JKU is now launching another initiative of low-threshold knowledge transfer aimed at society’s youngest members. JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas remarked: "This is about the magic of knowledge and the magic of science. We want to inspire our society’s newest generation to discover the world using all of their senses. We will concentrate the cosmos of Universitas in a circus ring. We want to build a Circus of Knowledge."

Circus in the Schloss Courtyard
The Circus of Knowledge will be in the Schloss Auhof’s former commercial area, giving a new meaning to the courtyard area. The space will transform and become a place for children to explore and be curious. Designed by Luger & Maul and in coordination with the Austrian Federal Office for Monuments, the outside will look like a wooden dairy farm structure and be able accommodate up to 300 visitors*. The circus ring - or stage - is faces both inwards and outwards. A large sliding door will allow the stage to be opened and face the Schloss courtyard. The building will cost around two million euros.

Architect Maximilian Luger added: "Our design incorporates a former part of Schloss Auhof. Historical engravings and drawings show that the north side of the courtyard was closed off by a utility building. Over the years and during past renovations, this part of the building and the castle chapel were both unfortunately demolished. The new plans include closing the new gap with a new structure. The new building, as a formal archetype, will offer many surprises, like a "magic house”."

Former Rector Richard Hagelauer as the Driving Force
Rector Lukas added: "The Circus of Knowledge has been a longtime project close to our hearts. We just needed financing and my predecessor Richard Hagelauer has procured the funding needed to make the project possible. Once again, the Johannes Kepler University Linz is gratefully indebted to him.”

Former JKU Rector Prof. Richard Hagelauer was appointed a professor at the JKU in 1993. From the start, he was extremely successful raising external funds for the university. As head of his department, he can make decisions regarding the use of funding. Richard Hagelauer has donated an amount three million euros from his department to fund the Circus of Knowledge project. In addition to funds to construct the circus (approx. two million euros), a considerable amount of starting capital will also be available for operations.

Prof. Hagelauer decided to make the funds available to mark his retirement on September 30. He also started the academic "Richard Hagelauer Foundation" to be named facilitator of the Circus of Knowledge.

Prof. Hagelauer added: "Those who have children like I do know that it is not always easy to explain to the kids exactly what dad does for a living. Integrated circuits, semiconductors and microelectronics - there are easier things to talk about with three, four, and five-year-olds. But when you get through to these children and introduce them to the magic of science, the spark for knowledge is ignited and their curiosity grows. I can't imagine anything else that makes me happier than making this project possible and hopefully many children can enjoy learning.

Enchanting Place of Diversity
The circus will feature special effects such as smoke, hissing, whistling and new smells. Both analogue and digital presentations will be the order of the day as clowns, artists, acrobats, actors, musicians and scientists introduce children to new information and modern research. When required, the JKU will cooperate with local theaters, circus operators, and actors. Seeing, understanding, and learning can only driven by curiosity and enthusiasm. The JKU also aims to collaborate with the Directorate of Education to reach its goal of welcoming children from all over Upper Austria - the more diverse the better.

Christine Haberlander, Deputy Governor of Upper Austria, emphasized: "The 'Circus of Knowledge' will give the Johannes Kepler University as well as Linz and all of Upper Austria a rare and unique kind of educational center. If we want STEM researchers, we have to start younger and we cannot wait until students are ready to graduate high school.  In order to be among the global elite, we need to make decisions of the heart. The Upper Austrian government and educational departments are trying to offer each child in Upper Austria the opportunity to marvel about science and become acquainted with the magic of knowledge."

NEWS 21.11.2019

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