Skip to main content

Klasse Klima

Award category
Interdisciplinary education models
You want to submit
NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS RISING STARS : concepts or ideas submitted by young talents (aged 30 or less)
Project title
Klasse Klima
Full concept/idea title
Climate crisis in art and design teaching via a decentralised interdiciplinary university network.
All art and design universities must address the climate crisis. This is Klasse Klima's mission, a student-led seminar series and education collective based at University of the Arts Berlin. We are building a transnational network with groups from other art schools, connecting them through innovative digital infrastructure and a fluid joint corpus of transformative knowledge and practices: a synergetic push towards a sustainable and inclusive shift in aesthetic education in Europe and beyond!
Where is your concept/idea being developed or intended to be implemented in the EU?
Grunewaldstr. 2–5, Room 112
Please provide a summary of your concept/ idea
The historical Bauhaus started as a reform design school. Its story exemplifies how art and design universities can multiply innovative aesthetic principles to become a cultural paradigm, shaping entire societies’ built and material environments, and individuals’ desires and imaginaries. In the 21st century the climate crisis requires art and design schools to work transformatively once again, yet towards a different cultural paradigm: a profound acknowledgement and confrontation of the ecological crisis, guided by principles of climate justice and inclusivity.  There already is a blossoming movement working towards this paradigm shift. In 2019, a group of students at Berlin University of the Arts initiated a self-organized seminar series to learn about the crisis and social-ecological forms of coexistence, and to explore the agency of art and design in the climate crisis. In the two years since, hundreds of students, practitioners and scientists have visited and attended the seminars. This growing network remains connected through digital infrastructure developed by a group of free and open-source enthusiasts at UdK and Klasse Klima.  Network thinking is essential to the mission of Klasse Klima. The shift towards ecologically informed art and design education and practice must develop rapidly and widely. It cannot be driven by students of only one school, unlike in the original Bauhaus story. Rather, existing knowledges and experiences of initiatives across nations must be documented and joint. Klasse Klima will foster and facilitate this effort. Firstly, by providing its decentral, Co2-neutral digital infrastructure as a means for translocal, internal collaboration and exchange. Secondly, by launching a public website and journal to share, communicate and present audiovisual and written concepts, ideas and practices. Thirdly, building on this infrastructure, by offering its learnings from 2 years of operating an inclusive and transformative seminar. 
Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of sustainability and how these would be met
The transition towards a sustainable future requires changes in the material world as well as an enormous mindshift, and art and design can promote and connect both. Therefore it is crucial that universities and academies redesign their structures and missions to respond to the multi-dimensional crisis we're facing.  The artists and designers of the crucial, coming decades for the socio-ecological transformation process are being educated now. The universities' and academies' present and future audiences are younger, eco-minded generations, who need education that acknowledges what is ubiquitous and shapes every aspect of their future: the climate crisis. Our aim is a form of teaching and learning that makes students aware of their agency and responsibility with the tools at their hands for a sustainable transition.  In 200+ seminar hours and 2 years of experience in organizing an art-design-climate curriculum, we have successfully implemented this goal locally at the Berlin University of the Arts. In order that sustainability can be structurally implemented at other art and design universities, we are in the process of establishing a decentralised network based on a self-developed and self-hosted technical platform. This gives us full control of our technology's climate impact: the platform is solar-powered on site. Thus, our approach to sustainability is comprehensive: sustainability as guiding principle in creative practice, and naturally also in the design of our technological structures. 
Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these would be met
In the coming years, aesthetics can become a key driver of ecological transformation in Europe and beyond, but only if understood innovatively. Since the beginning, Klasse Klima has been exploring and promoting a redefinition of aesthetics and creativity based on their potential in addressing the climate crisis. Its seminars translated scientific inputs into practical projects and urban interventions, often in collaboration with guests from different NGOs and the civil society. Hence, Klasse Klima’s green redefinition of aesthetics is a process shaped by real-world practice, based on immediate feedback. Three key potentials of art and design in the climate crisis have proven. First, they can be a means to communicate the ecological crisis through narratives and visuals that meet the complexity of the situation, that constructively criticize unecological structures, and that stimulate pluralistic imaginations of sustainable futures. Second, art and design can translate abstract concepts into immediate objects and experiences and thus help us to relearn and redesign ways of relating with our surroundings. Third, art and design can be genuinely dialogical practices that can include differing groups and constructively connect diverging perspectives and visions. In brief, art and design can work towards a wholesome transformation by bridging the gap between critique and innovation, concept and realization, and divergent needs and hopes, thus securing inclusive and peaceful change. Still, these manifold, increasingly essential potentials barely inform study plans at art and design schools. Klasse Klima has started to address this deficiency locally through its seminars. However, a structural and inclusive redefinition of the purpose of art and design practice and education requires a translocal network, so that a larger group of students and practitioners can join this practical, hands-on reestablishing of aesthetics in the light of the ecological transformation. 
Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of inclusion and how these would be been met
The basic principle of a green redefinition of art and design education is inclusivity. Ecological creative practice must resonate with, and learn from, the broad variety of social settings within and across countries. Further, zooming in on creative education, general and widespread change in art schools presupposes an acknowledgement that these universities differ in their structures, disciplines and study plans. Klasse Klima serves this twofold diversity through its plan of a decentralized web of autonomous initiatives at art and design schools. Network thinking and transdisciplinarity guided us from the start. Understanding and addressing the climate crisis requires a broad range of experts and all societal stakeholders. Hence, from the start, Klasse Klima invited scientists, theorists and activists, and cooperated with local and translocal activist groups and research centers, such as the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The seminars increasingly attracted students from science and humanities universities.  The Covid-19-pandemic catalyzed the evolution of the group’s digital chat and meeting spaces, thus allowing for international guests, as well as connecting students in different locations who implemented creative projects in their respective neighborhoods, addressing diverse populations. Hence, facilitated by its digital infrastructure, Klasse Klima evolved towards decentral translocality. The envisioned network will expand and institutionalize this tendency, starting with existing connections to other art and design schools, such as New York Cooper Union and Zurich University of the Arts.  We will provide our digital infrastructure as a medium to connect autonomous groups. Network partners can then redefine art and design education in resonance with various educational institutions and local civil societies and partners, and can exchange resources, learnings and projects, thus jointly realizing an inclusive shift in art and design.
Please explain the innovative character of your concept/ idea
Klasse Klima works towards a general transformation of design and art education in Europe and beyond. This is not manageable from EU level, because educational policy is a state matter. Even within countries academia is highly individualized in the fields of art and design, compared to e.g. medicine or engineering. At the same time there are many local approaches like Klasse Klima: Study programs, collectives and committed individuals. They all share one vision of a climate just education, but lack an interface to share knowledge and build resilient, long-term structures.  Klasse Klima's aim is to innovate education through innovative tools: a decentralized, modular and scalable, open-source platform to connect these disparate agents. On this platform, they can connect to spontaneous projects at any time. The core of the platform is based on the Matrix protocol, a standardised federated communication protocol that enables a decentralized architecture beyond corporate platforms. The platform builds on existing free and open-source projects, aligns them into a consistent design language, and integrates them in an easy way through a shared frontend. The tools were selected based on the needs of the user groups. Currently, the platform includes tools for asynchronous communication, audio calls, digital video seminars, collaborative writing, livestreaming and a collaborative whiteboard. These tools will be complemented by a flexible website to present content for public visibility and exchange. Klasse Klima’s digital infrastructure is continuing to evolve, focusing on cooperation and safety. This summer it will be opened to other collectives, seminars and committed individuals to set up their own digital communities and create synergy effects. 
Please detail the plans you have for the further development, promotion and/or implementation of your concept/idea, with a particular attention to the initiatives to be taken before May 2022
Within the coming year Klasse Klima will transcend local operation and build a transnational network with groups from other art and design schools. This process is planned in three steps:   I) In a work-intensive summer residency we will develop a wiki, which will make available our collected knowledge from the last 2 years in a structured way. It will help other groups and engaged individuals to achieve a sustainable and inclusive shift in their own institution. As an open wiki, this collection of knowledge can be edited and added to by the other groups. An onboarding and communication team will contact existing initiatives and interested individuals from other art and design universities. Klasse Klima, with its network of 250+ alumni, is already in contact with numerous students and faculty from a wide variety of universities in Europe and beyond who are interested in joining forces. II) By the winter semester, the technical platform will be ready to accommodate new groups. They will be provided not only with the wiki but also with a technical toolkit to enable open, non-hierarchical collaboration and the creation of their own communities. In addition, there will be a public website in the sense of a journal, on which all participating groups, regardless of their location, can publish results. This will make best practices visible to the public. III) Our goal until May 2022 is the prototype for a transnational network with groups from other art schools, connecting them through shared digital infrastructure and a fluid joint corpus of transformative knowledge and practices. A first approach to a process that will fully unfold in the following years.
By ticking this box, you declare that all the information provided in this form is factually correct, that the proposed concept/idea has not been proposed for the New European Bauhaus Rising Stars Awards more than once in the same category.


In order to submit your project, please make sure you have filled in all the mandatory fields marked with *, in both the “Basic information” and “Description of the project” tabs.


The country you have selected is not a Member State of the EU.

Please select the country your project was either implemented in the EU for Strand A in or is being developed or intended to be implemented in the EU for Strand B.