ISWI 2011

“crossing borders”

13th May – 22nd May, 2011

The 10th International Student Week in Ilmenau took place from 13th May- 22nd May, 2011. Dedicated to the topic freedom, there was 10 days full of workshops, lectures, presentations and cultural events.
The motto of ISWI 2011 was “crossing borders”.

No-one can be free if anyone else is not, for that would not be freedom but privilege.“[1]

To be free, to be the owner of a mind and body, to have free will – these are all expressions of freedom. But what does freedom mean? Some people describe this concept as an absence of demands. But for many it means more. It means fulfilling oneself and making one’s dreams come true. But it can also mean fighting and making sacrifices to gain freedom or defend it. At the same time the enjoyment of freedom brings with it the call to responsibility and moderation, since our very existence means that we are constantly faced with constraints. All humans are subjects to the laws of nature in a finite world. Unrestrained use of certain freedoms must restrict other freedoms, ultimately endangering our existence. Examples of the phenomenon are the current financial crisis or climate change.

Areas of tension arise from the contradictory aspects of freedom, affecting all parts of our human life and raising basic issues for each new generation. In today’s fast-paced world with all its progress and technology on the one hand and its unfairness and poverty on the other, the boundaries and priorities in society are being shifted faster and faster and issues of freedom and security, ethics or the origins of conflict need constantly to be readdressed.

It is here that we, the organizers of the ISWI 2011, should like to come in. We wanted to offer you, that is all who participate or take an interest, the opportunity of an open forum for exchanging your opinions. You were able to discuss “freedom” in all of its aspects through group projects, workshops, discussions, lectures and personal conversations. It is our opinion that intercultural dialogue can contribute especially to the development of tolerance and international understanding –and these are, as we see it, of exceptional importance in the context of freedom. Hence, we wanted to initiate active discourse. For ten days, together with the participants, other interested people and the lecturers, we want to draw attention to existing problems, to define positions and to develop approaches towards resolution in a manner that will secure for all people a maximum of freedom in a sustainable society.

[1] Alexei Tsvetkov (*1947), Russian poet and author