Aristoteles defined man as a «political animal», or «zoon politikon». As «social and political creatures», it is our natural desire to live in communities and engage with and therefore participate in them. This over 2000-year-old theory is a prerequisite for the success of democratic societies and still an issue of great topicality today. Erasmus+ supports this participation and has simultaneously created a «biographically convincing dimension» to European unity, as Jürgen Habermas wrote in a letter to the NA DAAD.
Democratic participation is one of the four transversal priorities of the current Erasmus+ programme generation. Alongside social participation and the green and digital transitions, it is one of the key challenges faced by our societies at the beginning of the 21st century. This DAADeuroletterconcludes our series of thematic editions dedicated to the priorities of Erasmus+.
The support of participation in democratic life is reflected not so much in individual funding measures, unlike the other priority areas. Rather, it is a fundamental principle underpinning all Erasmus activities, and also the ultimate goal of Erasmus funding: to experience and therefore shape Europe and the world – whether through mobilities for individual persons or through theme-based project funding.
And this works. Surveys carried out across Europe have found that Erasmus+ alumni, for example, are far more likely to vote in European Parliament elections than peers who have not broadened theirhorizons through the programme. Is there better, more beautiful proof that Erasmus+ works? I doubt it! This is an excellent basis for next year’s European Parliament elections.
Participation in social and political life manifests itself on different levels – from participation in elections to social and political engagement in everyday life. Many current and former Erasmus students want to share their experiences and give back what they have learned, so activelyparticipate in national and European student bodies. We are delighted that representatives of three such organisations have agreed to talk about their work for our magazine.
As a National Agency, we support European engagement funded by the BMBF by promoting voluntary student participation in national Erasmus+ support programmes: the Local Erasmus+ Initiatives (LEI) and the student association «Europa macht Schule» (Europe meets School). For over 30 years, primarily programme alumni have been active in the LEIs, among other things encouraging students to take part in Erasmus+. For over 15 years, «Europa macht Schule» (EmS), in turn, has beenorganising knowledge-sharing events for current Erasmus students and international students in Germany, who pass on the European idea to the next generation at events in our schools. The new action «Back to School» now offers students at German universities the chance to share theirexperiences with school children after spending time abroad.
All these voluntary engagement initiatives and forms of social and political participation are discussed in this edition of our DAADeuroletter. They are examples of how you can support your mobility activities with relatively little effort and cultivate peer-to-peer exchange at your university. In this spirit, I hope this edition of DAADeuroletter makes for stimulating reading. Kind regards from the National Agency.