The UWC Robert Bosch College is named after a great German entrepreneur and philanthropist from the early 20th century. As responsible citizen, he has become a role model and inspired the work of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
Robert Bosch was born on the 23rd of September 1861 as the eleventh of twelve children in Albeck, close to Ulm. In 1886 he established the “Workshop for Precision and Electrical Engineering” that developed into an internationally operating company.
From the very beginning, Robert Bosch was concerned about the welfare and health of his employees. This care corresponded with his humanistic world-view, in which all people were entitled to personal freedom, health, education and peace. On top of that, Bosch was convinced that the satisfaction and well-being at the workspace would stimulate the performance of each individual and thus of the entire firm.
Very early, Robert Bosch started to use the growing proceeds from his entrepreneurial work to take on social responsibility beyond his company. In the aftermath of World War I, he strongly advocated reconciliation between nations and people. Reconciliation with France was of special importance to him, as he saw this as the key to a sustainable peace in Europe.
Together with Kurt Hahn, the founder of the first United World College, Robert Bosch shared the vision that through cooperation and intercultural encounter the international understanding between nations and people could be furthered.
Robert Bosch died on the 12th March 1942 at the age of 80 in Stuttgart.
Far-sighted, he established the basis for the continuation of his entrepreneurial and philanthropic work. In the guidelines of the asset management of Bosch GmbH, later renamed the Robert Bosch Stiftung, he stated that the revenue of his capital was, “besides the alleviation of all kinds of suffering”, to be used to increase the “moral, health and spiritual capacities of all people”. The guidelines particularly elaborate on the topics of health, education, support for especially talented people and international reconciliation.
The United World Colleges epitomise international and intercultural understanding every day. Since the establishment of the first UWC in 1962, the movement has been committed to educating young adults as tolerant, responsible personalities. Robert Bosch shared this conviction with Kurt Hahn, with whom he had a special connection.
Kurt Hahn and Robert Bosch came to know each other at the end of World War I. Both viewed the treaty of Versailles as misfortune both for Germany and for Europe and supported the creation of an agreement over the peace in Europe. They shared this view with a group of influential politicians, academics and economists that created the Heidelberger organization. Robert Bosch and Kurt Hahn were heavily involved in the formation of this political initiative in 1918 – Hahn, as the private secretary of Imperial Chancellor Prince Max of Baden, Bosch, as financial supporter with important ideas.
Based on Wilson´s 14 Points and their own understanding, the Heidelberger organization strove for a “Just Peace”. Yet it was impossible for them to mobilize the internationally necessary support to bring this to fruition. The initiative resulted in Robert Bosch’s growing interest in the person and pedagogical ideas of Kurt Hahn. Hahn had put his vision into practice by creating the Schule Schloss Salem in 1920.Robert Bosch became a good friend of Hahn and visited him on several occasions. Because Hahn, being Jewish, was increasingly put under pressure by the Nazis, Bosch drove to Salem in the beginning of the 1930s to look after the school. Just short time after this visit Hahn emigrated to Scotland where he founded Gordonstoun (1932), various Outward Bound programmes and, the United World Colleges (then named the Atlantic Project) in 1962.
International understanding was a matter of fundamental importance for Robert Bosch. Social responsibility was his central motivation, and the trust in common sense his recipe for success. Talented young people who understand essential political and social connections and who want to bring about a positive change in their environment, can and do commit passionately and rationally not only to their own interest, but to the welfare of society.