Integral Development Course of the University of St. Gallen met at Trans4m’s Home for Humanity and in Geneva

13 April 2017: A culturally diverse group of 28 Students from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, all enrolled in a course on International/Integral Development, came for a four-day transformative intensive to Hotonnes, France, and Geneva, Switzerland. At the very core of the course, run by Trans4m’s Alexander Schieffer, is the deep engagement with alternative development futures. Having critically engaged with existing approaches to development, students explore in this course the Integral Development approach – and the possibilities to interconnect personal, organizational, community and societal development.

The days at Trans4m’s seat “Home for Humanity” in Hotonnes allowed for deep reflections on personal development issues, as well as with a direct engagement with five of Trans4m’s integral partner organizations from around the world, who joined the course via video conference. Case organizations in this year’s course are Sinal do Vale in Brazil, Sekem in Egypt, Pax Herbals in Nigeria, Confederatio Helvetica in Switzerland and Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka.

Prior to the course, a burning “development issue” had been identified in each case organization and teams of students are developing, over the coming six weeks, concrete solutions to these issues, by actively working with and applying the Integral Development approach. In most of the cases, a former course participant and now Trans4m Junior Fellow is fully engaged in the case locally, helping the group to relate their specific solutions even better to the case. With Junior Fellows Anthony Dharan (currently at Sekem in Egypt), Nora Wilhelm (now co-catalysing, together with Oswald Koenig, the collaboratio helvetica initiative), Annia Costermani (with Sinal do Vale in Brazil) and Moritz Merz (who just returned from Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka), the current course has an inspiring set of “local mentors”.

All this illustrates, that this course, and in particular the intensive in Hotonnes and Geneva, is designed as an active field of co-creation and experimentation, and geared to motivate participants to discover their own role (as individuals and in teams) to shape personal and collective development – locally and globally.

The intensive in Hotonnes was enriched by a performance of and dialogue with Dr Rama Mani, together with Abdullah Gad, a Steward of her Theatre of Transformation Academy. Abdullah shared – theatrically and in conversation – his own experiences as an Egyptian Agent of Transformation which captured a lot of interest among participants.

Altogether the group passed a highly constructive and creative time in Hotonnes, and discussions, including musical performances, went till late into the night. Jointly, participants co-created an atmosphere of sharing, reflecting and active problem solving – thereby “shifting” the course “beyond the university borders” and to experience the possibility to take “university into society”, engaging in real-time with real-life development issues.

During the time in Geneva, the course listened to, learned from and engaged in conversations with Dr. Cornelio Sommaruga, former President of the International Red Cross, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, WTO World Trade Organization, UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and UNDP United Nations Development Programs.

All of these rich interactions enabled course participants to take the course conversations deeper and to collect input and feedback from internationally renowned experts.

The intensive was strongly supported by Trans4m Junior Fellows Moritz Merz and Maxime Bertocchi, who shared their own experiences of working on the ground with development cases and used their experiences to actively mentor the new groups.

Next month, the five case groups will officially present their team results to the case organizations.

Watch this space for future updates!