Pedagogical Concept

Established by its shareholders Deutsche Stiftung UWC and Robert Bosch Stiftung, UWC Robert Bosch College opened its doors in Freiburg, Germany, in August 2014.

Within the context of the UWC values, guiding principles and educational model, the International Baccalaureate Diploma mission, learner profile and curriculum, as well as the requirements of Land Baden-Württemberg on German students for the fulfilment of “Schulpflicht”, UWC Robert Bosch College aims to develop a specific focus on sustainability including how sustainability can be supported through technology.

The UWC values, principles and educational model are descriptive rather than a systematic pedagogical concept. At their core is a “deliberately diverse, engaged and motivated community in pursuit of the UWC Mission”. The approach within UWC emphasises student autonomy and personal sense-making. The International Baccalaureate Diploma offers a coherent “liberal” curriculum that is a deliberate compromise between different national emphases on “breadth” and “depth”, not one specifically designed for the opportunities and needs of UWCs and a college with a specific focus on sustainability and technology. There is a tension between “student autonomy and personal sense-making” approach within UWC and the implicit “moral / character education” approach of the IB Learner Profile.

The formal study of sustainability, including ecological sustainability and how this might be supported through technology, is relatively new and understandings in this area are evolving rapidly. While the focus on sustainability and technology is sincere, genuine and allocated considerable resource within the physical and educational framework of the College, it would be short-sighted for the College to “fix” its particular understanding of sustainability and technology in a manner that is likely to become quickly dated. Moreover, a crucial component of the College’s education in this regard needs to be to create circumstances where people feel impelled towards working for positive change in their own lives and throughout the world. “It is the sin of the soul to force young people into opinions – indoctrination is of the devil – but it is culpable neglect not to impel young people into experiences.” Kurt Hahn, German Educationalist and UWC Founder.

A final consideration in setting the context of the Pedagogical Concept of UWC Robert Bosch College is Kurt Hahn’s philosophy in seeking what might be described as “indirect” or “oblique” approaches to the deepest educational objectives: “…an eminent man challenged me to explain what sailing in a schooner could do for international education. In reply, I said we had at that moment the application before us for a future king of an Arab country to enter Gordonstoun. I happened to have at the school some Jews… If the Arab and one of these Jews were to go out sailing on our schooner… perhaps in a Northeasterly gale, and if they were to become thoroughly seasick together, I would have done something for international education.”

UWC Robert Bosch College is not daunted by the pushes and pulls of differing imperatives. Experiments in international education have always had to marry different national and personal imperatives. Gaining appreciation for the compromises that need to be struck is a helpful preparation for students and teachers in their approach to the complexity of finding global solutions in other contexts.

The object of the Pedagogical Concept is to create “scaffolding” around the educational space that the College represents, space that needs to be filled in anew by each generation of teachers and students.

It further is envisaged that the College will act as a centre for school development and teaching innovation, and that this aspect be developed as soon as possible after the opening of the College and as funding permits.


The pedagogical concept follows project reports, a conference of a Consultative Panel in Freiburg in May 2012, discussions of a group of educational experts visiting UWC Atlantic College in September 2012 and further discussions within the UWC Robert Bosch College Kuratorium. Read the complete document here.

UWC Robert Bosch College wishes to thank the following for their invaluable input at various points of the consultative process:

Matthias Beck, Change Management Expert, UWC Alumnus
Eva Eschenbruch, founding Managing Director/CEO UWC Robert Bosch College, UWC Alumna, General Secretary of Deutsche Stiftung UWC
Peter Howe, Head, UWC Maastricht
Andreas Meisner, Principal Integrierte Gesamtschule Franzsches Feld
Laurence Nodder, Rektor of UWC Robert Bosch College
Prof. Dr. Regina Palkovits, Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences, University of Aachen
Dr. Alistair Robertson, Deputy Rektor, Red Cross Nordic UWC
Dr. Roman Rösch, Head of Section Education, Robert Bosch Stiftung
Prof. Dr. Heiner Schanz, Former Senior Vice-President and Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Professor in Forest and Environmental Policy, former Study Director MSc Environmental Governance, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Prof. Dr. Michael Schratz, Dean of the Faculty of Education, Universität Innsbruck, Chair of the Jury of Deutscher Schulpreis

Members of the Advisory Group on Sustainability within the UWC Robert Bosch College Kuratorium:

Prof. Dr. Derek Blackman, former Vice Chair of UWC International Board, former Director General of the International Baccalaureate Organization
Prof. Dr. Manfred Euler, former Director of the Leibniz-Institute for Pedagogics in the Natural Sciences
Dr. Alexander Urban, Managing Director /CEO, Heidehof Stiftung
Prof. Dr. Joachim von Braun, Director of the Center for Development Research, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn
Prof. Dr. Eicke R. Weber (Group Coordinator), Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Research