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Silence and its (self) transformative potentials. Integrating Silence Spaces in higher education: the case of the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development

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This master thesis explores the potential of enriching higher education with the triad of self, sustainability and Silence. This work aims for self-development of students, teachers and institutions which is expressed in transformative action towards sustainability. To do so, the research investigates the potentials of Silence1 regarding the dimension of the self and the transformation processes towards sustainability. Our research is based on relevant literature from the field of sustainable development and education. We derived our key results out of the application of Action Research. The Action Research Cycles present the central findings and conclude with the presentation and integration of the Silence Space concept into higher education. An essential insight is that sustainability as a concept still faces major systemic hurdles in being integrated in societies of the Global North. These obstacles have their origin mainly in a perception of separation, in a lack of attention to qualitative human needs and in the mindset. It is therefore the mindset that needs to be transformed in order to make action and behaviour conducive to a relational and thus holistic sustainability. Silence as an attitude can act as a significant supporting force that fuels these processes of transformation and promotes human well-being, which underlies the definition of sustainability. Especially, when integrated in approaches of higher education for sustainable development, it leads to a better perception of the congruence of knowledge and action. The Eberswalde University for sustainable development (HNEE) with its prototype of the Silence Space might contribute to the understanding of oneself in relation to others (and the environment), thereby fostering the experience of self-efficacy and strengthening transformative actions towards sustainability. Since higher education should at best contribute to the creation of critically thinking global citizens, we see this investigation and the concept Silence Space as a contribution for a more sustainable society.
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