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Protest in Witzenhausen

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Abolishment of the department of biodynamic agriculture in Witzenhausen.

The department of bio-dynamic agriculture with Prof. Dr. Ton Baars was established at the Witzenhausen faculty in 2005 and funded by its donors until spring 2011. In the founding treaty the administration of Kassel University and Witzenhausen faculty guaranteed to “make sustainable efforts to keep this department” after 2011.

In 2010 a specific evaluation of the bio-dynamic department, including advice from external independent experts, agreed that certain topics of biodynamic agriculture should be integrated in teaching and research at university.

According to demonstrators this result was violated by the Witzenhausen dean, faculty and president of University Kassel, as they recently decided not to keep the department – even before the evaluation process was officially finished. In addition, say the protesters, the dean influenced the decision making process in several undemocratic ways (e.g. he excluded members from the evaluation committee, he changed the proposed list of external experts and their questionnaire, he ignored the request of the majority of the joint faculty committee to keep the biodynamic department).

Although the donors (Software AG, Luis Bulk Institute among others) offered full financing for three more years, if the bio-dynamic department would, in the end, be kept by the University.Sadly, the biodymanic department and the work of Prof. Dr. Baars will be finished after this semester!

Democratic participation of students at risk!!

The development of the faculty in Witzenhausen as is traditionally based on self-government on all levels of university administration and is meant to include a strong students participation –  students in Witzenhausen claimed the first department of organic farming in Germany.

The abolition of the department of bio-dynamic agriculture is only the tip of the iceberg. It hints at other incidences which have accumulated since Prof. Dr. Wachendorf became dean in 2008. The protesters find that the democratic participation as well as the unique organic profile of Witzenhausen is at risk!
Demands of the Protest:

!!! Keep the department of bio-dynamic agriculture!

!!! Keep the unique organic profile of Witzenhausen faculty!

!!! Stop the recent undemocratic negotiations with students!

!!! Follow the funding-treaty to keep the bio-dynamic department!

!!! A clear statement of Prof. Dr. Wachendorf how he wants to develop the faculty!

!!! More participation of students!

!!! Transparency in decision-making at the faculty!

!!! Re-initiation of the faculty committee as leading decision-making committee despite of changes in Hessian University Law!

!!! Discussion of mission-statement with exclusion of genetic engineering!

!!! Distinct improvement of communication and cooperation of all professors (e.g. immediately with external mediation)!

For more information (in German) and pictures visit: http://www.echtbio.de.vu

Author: C. Whitney

I am an Independent consultant working with Organic farmers, wild collectors and conservation oriented communities in SE Asia. - Organic Consultant and Researcher, PhD candidate, Couchsurfing Ambassador, MOFGA Member, IFOAM Member, Organic Group Manager...

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