Your local library – the Berghain next door

The closing of libraries in small towns and plenty of free digital copies of books that can be accessed online suggest hard times for libraries. However, thanks to a new concept, libraries are well alive and flourishing in some bigger cities. This new concept attracts a higher number of people to libraries that don’t necessarily come there with the objectives to read, study, or work traditionally but to spend their time differently. When a pioneer library opens in the morning, some visitors are already waiting outside, which suggests difficulties in finding seating space for everybody else coming to the library throughout the day, turning a simple library visit into a Berghain experience. Depending on the time, of the day one can’t even be sure of granted entrance anymore.

Libraries – the New Place to Be

As stated above, the traditional purpose of libraries has already shifted in some places. There are still visitors who just wish to read, research, or work in silence. Some visitors, however, are coming there with their luggage, waiting for their next departing train or flight, others are there to meet acquaintances near the seating area, and some are there to have a place to go after school or work. The libraries’ staff do not always dread these changes. Instead, they welcome the guests with open arms, even if that guest isn’t coming there for the books or favorable working environment. Some even go so far as to introduce changes to meet the people’s needs, such as reducing the number of physical books in their libraries to make space for more seating areas.

Library Situation in Augsburg

The question arises if these changes to the traditional concept of libraries in some places will affect the future situation in Augsburg with its public library, as well as the library on campus.  It is not clear if there is the option to create additional seating areas to offer space for the growing number of visitors the new trend attracts. It’s also unclear if the staff in charge are willing to introduce the respective changes to follow a new approach, as well as if the people would appreciate a more progressive concept concerning the city’s libraries. Let alone if the library on campus became more of a place to be than to research, work, or study, that would consequently make it harder for the university’s students and staff to work effectively in the library.

So while it has shown that a new concept introduced at the right place at the right time can positively affect the present situation, it should not be forgotten that everything comes with the respective pros and cons. It may therefore be possible for bigger cities to attract more people to libraries with this approach; however, this doesn’t guarantee for this concept to work out in every context or for every situation, as for example the one on campus.

author: Teresa Schneider

Fifty Shades of Greens

Fighting Food Waste

Walking through a supermarket, you may notice the many shelves stocked with freshly baked bread, exotic fruits and barely one-day-old vegetables. Everything is organic – everything is green – everything is sustainable, at least that’s what the ads promise. What´s hidden from the customers’ eyes are the completely overstuffed bins, containing huge amounts of still edible food. Since we were children, we’ve been told that wasting food is wrong. So how is it possible that food waste is still an issue today?

Here’s the problem

Even today, 800 million people – one in nine – are starving or suffering from malnutrition. Each of them could be fed with less than a quarter of the food that’s wasted in the western world each year. Globally, it takes a space larger than China just to produce the amount of food that is never eaten. And full tables come at a high price: over the last few decades, our food supply system has been globalized, which has driven up the prices of food in developing countries. A quarter of all fresh water consumption is used to grow our food. No to mention issues like deforestation, the extinction of rare species and the forced movement of indigenous people. It’s quite easy to think of food waste as someone else’s problem, but truth be told, more than half of the food waste takes place in our private homes.

What’ s happening in our neighborhood?

Germans approximately throw away 45 million tons of food per year, around 55kg per person. The government has discussed various strategies to cut this down. The goal is to reduce this huge number by 50 % over the next ten years. National awareness campaigns are launched to highlight the level of food waste, as well as setting legal guidelines for supermarkets and restaurants, which are responsible for around 40 million tons in total. Consumers are supposed to be aware of the real importance of the best-before-date, which is misinterpreted by some as a tutorial on how to stay alive. One of the most important parts of the plan is directed at the food industry and regards packaging the food in much smaller, suitable quantities. In addition, experts recommend a traffic-light-style system, which could illustrate precisely whether food is still edible.

What could be done about it?

And then, there are legal issues: at the moment, possible food-providers have to be afraid of legal proceedings, in case their donations cause food poisoning or other diseases. There is also the problem of transportation. Supermarkets have to pay someone to transport their food to organizations like the Tafel, that ensure that surplus food from retail trade is collected and passed on to those in need. While Germany hasn’t worked out all the legal details yet, others have already taken action. France, for example, has banned supermarket waste, unsold food is to be donated to food banks or charities. In Denmark, supermarkets have to release information on how much of their produce goes to waste. Over 150 food companies in the UK have committed to the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, implementing the Target – Measure – Act strategy, which provides businesses with steps they can take to reduce waste in their own supply chain. Germany still has a lot to do.

author: Dietmar Zombori

Border controls – a love/hate relationship

Border controls – we all know them. We all hate them when we get stuck in depressingly long traffic jams near the Germany’s southern border with Austria on our way back from Italy, Croatia, etc. When you finally reach the point where the police officer comes up to you and wants to see your passport all your patience is gone, and you just want to get home. One might wonder what good these border controls are. One might argue that they shouldn’t be taking place because Austria is in the EU as well and furthermore is a part of the Schengen treaty, which was brought into life nearly solely for the purpose of eliminating borders. Now, there was a time not long ago where there indeed weren’t any controls among Germany’s borders, but we all know what changed this. The massive waves of refugees pouring into the country. The government decided to have the federal police controlling the most frequently used routes of illegal immigration by human traffickers.

Illegal immigration is not the only crime these border patrol units are trying to prevent. We all heard about the Mafia. What does the Mafia do? They kill, blackmail and trade with drugs. While the border patrols can’t really do much about the killing and blackmailing, they sure can do something about the drug-trade. A friend of mine which I’ll refer to as Tim works for the border patrol as an undercover investigator. Undercover meaning that he doesn’t wear a uniform and drives around in a normal car not that he went undercover to become the best friend of some drug kingpin and then snitch on him. Tim told me several stories about several cases concerning his and his colleagues’ work with drugs at the German-Austria border. The most spectacular being the one where they found multiple kilos of cocaine welded into a car. The total value was estimated to 500.000€. And this is not even the most amazing thing about this case: The mule was known to the German authorities and they even knew that he had planned a trip from Germany down south, with drugs on board. He started this roadtrip of his in Nordhrein-Westfalen carried on through Baden-Württemberg until he was finally stopped by a border patrol unit. Unknown to the vast majority is the fact that border patrol control traffic entering but also leaving the country in order to make sure no convicted criminals leave the country.

That is just one of many many cases in which the border controls executed by the police resulted in success and helped to make this country safer. Where there are expensive drugs like cocaine, violence isn’t far away. And violence leads to pain, pain that often innocent bystanders of drug wars have to endure. So next time when the police officer at a border control comes up to your car and asks you for your passport and what you have in the back think about all the good things that come out of border controls and think twice if your sacrifice of time really is that bad.

author: Sean Langer

“I moved here because of the Eiskanal” – “The what?”

Since I was a little kid, my step dad took me and my family on a holiday to Slovenia every summer. On these holidays, my passion for whitewater kayaking was born. Now, around 20 years later, I can still be found in a boat on a regular basis. And here’s the reason for why I moved to Augsburg last year: the Eiskanal. But what exactly is the Eiskanal? I’m often quite surprised when people living in Augsburg who don’t have a single clue of what this thing is.

So what is it?

Well, as you might have guessed by now, the Eiskanal is somehow related to whitewater sports. In fact, it’s an artificial whitewater river that was built for the Summer Olympics in 1972. Up until today, the Eiskanal is a very famous spot for kayakers coming from all parts of Germany and even for non-Germans. People use the water for canoe slalom, where you navigate your canoe through a course of hanging gates on river rapids really fast, but you can also just ignore the gates and try to master the rapids as expertly as possible, or you might even see stand-up paddlers (I guess you know what this is) trying to survive the rapids of the Eiskanal. And one more thing: the Eiskanal will even host the canoe slalom world championships in 2022.

Mastering the waves

In my case, I prefer being in a boat without manoeuvring it through the gates as you do it in canoe slalom. To be honest, these gates simply annoy me and I just try not to get hit by them. For me, the Eiskanal is simply a training course for being prepared to master the waves on natural rivers in countries such as Austria or Slovenia. The boats I use are made of plastic, in contrast to the slalom canoes, which consist of carbon. Being made of plastic instead of carbon obviously makes the boats considerably cheaper, and – highly important for the natural rivers – a lot more stable and resistant against getting punctured by rocks.

Being on natural rivers is not comparable at all to the artificial rivers, such as the Eiskanal. You have the breath-taking scenery around you, which makes this sport so outstanding. Also, you might feel like being on holiday, even when being on the river for only one day. So you can completely forget your worries from everyday life. Being surrounded by nature is also quite calming for the stress the sport often brings. Almost before every new rapid, you can get really nervous and have to discuss with your group how to best run the rapid so you won’t have to roll up again, or, in case that doesn’t work, even get out of the boat and swim. Seeing the beautiful nature around you at this moment can have such a positive effect and encourage you for paddling forward.

Promoting the Eiskanal

Highlighting the pro’s of natural rivers in contrast to the Eiskanal was definitely not meant to talk bad about the Eiskanal. Instead, kayaking on the Eiskanal is the best training and preparation for going on the natural whitewater rivers. You know that the rapids are always the same, you can practice on the same spot again and again, and nearly always, there is someone around who could help you in case of an emergency. If you struggle to get out of the water or to get your boat out again, there will be another person in the water who can help you, or if not, then there are always people by the water. One last note, if you don’t feel like trying to kayak now, then one first approach might be to just go to the Eiskanal and watch the others in their boats. The Eiskanal is surrounded by a nice terrace-like green field, which is used by people a lot, especially in summer, for just relaxing in the sun, having a picnic, or taking a break from a bike ride. And why not just let your eyes wander towards the kayakers mastering the waves on the Eiskanal?

author: Lena Pickert

“Yes it will be a grace if I die. To exist is pain. Life is no desire of mine anymore.” – A review of the play Electra by the Anglistentheater

It was -3° Celsius.

-3° Celsius when I was riding my bike back home after having watched the performance of Electra by the Anglistentheater. But I couldn’t feel the cold, my thoughts captured by an echo of what I’d just listened to, watched and felt.

I won’t spoil your experience of watching the play by giving away the plot. What I do want you to know, though, is: this performance of Nick Payne’s Electra is filled with emotions, passion and love for detail. Authenticity of all actors and actresses makes this performance so realistic. The focus is on acting, which is still pleasingly accentuated by fitting music or, in many cases, the actors and actresses humming. There are no exaggerated light effects, no overdone make up, only people, who enjoy what they’re doing: being on stage. I don’to criticize either sound, light effects or make up. I just think that this is what fitted the play and performance just perfectly.

So why go and see the play? The performance of the Anglistentheater did exactly what a performance is meant to do: it left me thinking. Thinking about what is right or wrong. If revenge can be a way of coping with rage or grief. Why people want to take revenge. How it feels to loose your father murdered by your mother. Why humans are cruel. That’s just what came to my mind after seeing the play. Even though your thoughts might be completely different, I still hope you enjoy this performance as much as I did. And maybe it leaves you with a tear in your eye, a smile on your face or your mind coming up with questions you’ve never asked yourself before. Either way  it is worth your time to go and watch it!

Their shows take place on Thursday, the 5th of December, Friday 6th, Tuesday 10th and Thursday 12th at 8.00 p.m. in the Hörsaal 2 here at Uni. Tickets can be ordered online with the order forms or at the Taschenbuchladen Krüger located near Königsplatz.


author: Milena Kolzem

White Saviourism – When trying isn’t enough

The phenomenon you actually came across

White saviourism. Now, you’ll probably ask yourself, what the f*ck is that? But let me tell you, you’ve definitely come across it on social media. Let’s divide the term into its two parts: first, there’s the ‘White’ part. This part’s definitely about skin colour, more precisely: the power of the privileged. Saviourism, on the other hand, comes from the word ‘to save’, so let’s put 1+1 together: we are talking about White, privileged people going into developing countries, thinking their intervention is helping people, while actually causing damage and showing off. There are a number of aspects that can be wrong about travelling to a foreign country trying to “help” people. The complexity and depth of the phenomenon is huge, consequently I’ll only tip the surface of this matter

The helping trend that causes damage

To me, it feels like there’s kind of a trend that’s been around in recent years, a trend to travel around the globe, trying to do something good for three weeks. But have you thought about the fact that, very often, the ‘work’ foreign people try to fulfil is either a very temporary thing, which doesn’t help anybody long-term, or an opportunity to improve their CV at home? Dear Reader, go back and re-read the last sentence: did you stumble across the verb ‘to try’? Exactly. White saviours try to do something good, but trying to help in the necessary areas without any education or skills is, sadly, incredibly useless.

Speaking about skills: what are the skills that are needed in a developing country? The first thing that comes to my mind is medicine. People who have a medical education might achieve a little bit more than an 18-year-old high school graduate – no offence intended. And there are organisations with trained doctors who actually do that work, like Doctors Without Borders. What these organisations need is money and equipment, not another tourist who’ll fly back home after a few weeks. Add that to the fact that many poorer countries are struggling with unemployment: when there are enough locals looking for work, who could easily be occupied long-term in the job a traveller does for two weeks, you’re not helping. Your work is not just unsustainable, you’re actively stealing a job from a local.

Missions can backfire

An incident from the year 2009 shows how wrong those missions can go. Renee Bach, a would-be aid worker, practised medicine without any medical education. As a consequence, several children died. Two mothers have sued her and the case will be discussed in court in January 2020. Even the Guardian published an article about the White saviourism phenomenon, referring to Bach. One important factor in White saviourism seems to be social media and people’s wish to represent themselves as caring, thoughtful people. However, the issue that comes along with being in public is that you should be very careful about what lies in your abilities and what’s the real reasons for the work you’re doing. Nevertheless, you can find the White saviour on several social media platforms, holding hands with little, unprivileged kids. Below the pictures, they are referring to all the ‘good’ work, they’re doing. Sadly, they actually don’t see what the real issues are and don’t realize what the people’s needs are. Still, they post a picture without knowing one thing about the individuals and their history.

The issue isn’t only discussed on social media, but also in movies like Green Book (2018) or Hidden Figures (2016), which are telling stories about White Saviours. Don’t get me wrong, I think organisations like UNICEF are great and they’re actually doing something good. It’s just that, maybe, instead of flying there, polluting the world, people in need might be in better hands, if we just donate to these organisations. Even if that means we don’t get any nice pictures for our timeline.

author: Carolin Bruckert

Questions to the Augsburg Magazine eMAG

  1. What exactly is the course called and how does it fit into the study program? What English skills are being covered? And how do you learn the required writing skills?

The course has a rather unspectacular name: it goes by Integrated Language Skills (LPO 2012) / Integrated Language Skills 2 (LPO 2008) (eMag). eMAG is part of a module that consists of three courses, the other two being Effective Writing and Übersetzung Englisch-Deutsch (1). eMAG fits in here as an opportunity for students to put the skills they have learned in those other courses to practical use in an authentic, english-speaking environment. The eMAG course itself is there to improve students’ writing skills outside of the usual term paper style. We try to convey a more informal writing style in general.

  • eMAG has a very project-based way of practising writing skills. Would you say this is more promising for participants than a traditional class?

I’m going to go with the diplomatic route here and say that a good mix between a theoretical approach and a practical one is very useful. You can’t learn a language simply by reading about it. You have to use it to actual get better at it. And a part of that certainly is writing, too, in all its forms. But at the same time, it’s also necessary to have a good foundation to start working on a project like eMAG. You need to have some basic understanding of how to structure your writing, that there are differences between writing in German and English – and that does include formal differences. And that is something we wouldn’t be able to do in just one term with one session a week. In a nutshell, I’d say that eMAG is a great opportunity if you have the necessary foundations.

  • For us, organisational tasks took up a lot of time and it wasn’t quite clear who was responsible for what. Also, what presented a bit of a struggle was that our course is supposed to teach writing skills before all else but the magazine focus didn’t allow much time for that. How do you handle organizational tasks within a writing course?

It’s good to see that similar projects are struggling with similar problems. There is no way around it and I was lucky enough to join the course at a time when a lot of these issues had already been dealt with and solved. There already was a good routine that people before me had set up. The trick is to give the course a real project structure with different layers of who would be responsible for what – teams for layouting and media and advertisement to just name a few. Within these groups, the regular members, who take the course for credit points, will mostly focus on writing and only take on smaller tasks to help create the final magazine. The experienced staff, on the other hand, get clear assignments on what needs to be done. In the end, the editor-in-chief has the fun task of managing and overseeing all those groups and bringing everything together.

  • Who is eligible to join the class, i.e. students of what semester or year of the study program? How many are you in total and what is the ratio between students who do the course voluntarily and those who do it for credit points? Do both of these groups participate in the same way?

There is no real condition set for joining the class, especially if you’re studying English: if you need the credit points, who are we to tell you you can’t come? We do prefer for the people to have completed the writing part of the module beforehand, or at least to be taking that class in the same term, but we can’t enforce that. Naturally, though, most people are doing it this way because following the module structure makes the most sense. In turn, that means that most new members are in or around their 3rd semester. In terms of how many people join, there’s some fluctuation: there are usually more participants during winter terms, but it’s roughly 20-25 people in general. Only few of these aren’t English students – although I wouldn’t say there’s a difference in participation. On top of that, there is my team which consists of seven people at the moment. These tend to be people who have participated before and can’t get any more credit points. They are just there for a good time.

  • In our course, we tried to assign different roles to different people. However, we didn’t define clearly enough what each role’s job was, leading to the point where some people did much more work than others. What roles do you have within your team? And what tasks does each role involve? Is the work distributed in a rather even way, or are there also differences between the work load of different people?

I think this little chart from our guidelines does a better job at visualizing this than I could in words:
The new members are being split into either working on layouts or promoting the magazine, apart from working on their articles. Both teams are supervised by team leaders who know how everything is supposed to be structured and help out wherever necessary. If even they don’t know the solution, it’s usually my part to figure something out. Problem solver would probably be one of the better descriptions for what I do. There is a lot of organizing things behind the scenes, too, of course: finding printers, organizing everything to be in line with our university and making decisions on how to go forward or cutting inappropriate articles, though we do try to avoid that at all costs. Nonetheless, it happens every once in a while.

We struggled a lot to find a good balance between the workload of the layout team compared to the media team. Layouting is just such a time-consuming but necessary part of it all that it makes it difficult to cut down on it, yet the media team usually doesn’t face quite as many tasks throughout the term. Last term we struck a good balance by giving each member of the Media team the task to write one additional article which would be published on our website while the layout team didn’t get that assignment. This lead to the workload being evened out for the most part.

Apart from that, there’s Writing Support, a team that consists of three experienced eMAGgers. Their job is to correct early drafts and give feedback, before the final draft goes to the course coordinator.

  • What does your lecturer do exactly? What is their role in the production of each magazine? And how do they grade each person’s work?

The entire course is supposed to be run by students. But as we wouldn’t be allowed to give people credit, Mr. Jehle is the one who’s in charge officially. Until last term, it was Mr. James, who founded eMAG. The lecturer’s job is to organise exams and talk to the higher-ups of our university in case there are issues we couldn’t solve by ourselves. They also correct final article drafts so we do get some professional feedback.


As for grading, that’s a mystery, even to me. I think it’s really just magic… Ideally, though, we would love to be able to grade the work during the course and skip the exam entirely, but as we are part of the entire three-part module structure, we have to offer an exam which is also created by our course coordinator. Since the class takes up more time than a regular course, though, we try not to put additional work on participants for exam preparation. The aim is to create an exam that can be answered relatively easily by any regular class member.

  • We heard that your editors are meeting every week with the lecturer – what is being discussed in those weekly meetings?

Another rather boring answer: it’s just to catch up on things that are going on. Making sure nothing’s being overlooked or forgotten about. Mr. James’ experience in this matter was invaluable. He didn’t encounter most problems for the first time, so he knew how to handle things if something went awry. And there tends to be at least one thing each term that does.

  • How do you organize the advertisement for your magazine?

At this point, we have a few contract partners that have been advertising in eMAG for a long time, which makes the process a lot easier: they know exactly what needs to be done once we come around and ask if they’re still interested. The process consists of two steps: first off, we need to get the contracts signed by our partners who then in turn will send us their ad. This ad is then being handled like a regular magazine page and copied into inDesign. After that, we need to deal with the entire bureaucratic process of handing in the contracts to our university. The people in charge then check if they are all legally printable and if any mistakes have been made. If everything is found to be in order, they write the bill.

  • Our first magazine didn’t have a general topic, and everyone just wrote about whatever they were interested in. However, we think it will be better if our magazine has that kind of topic for each semester’s edition from now on. How do you decide on a topic for each term?

That’s one of the funnier parts of class! During one of the last sessions each term we dedicate one hour to brainstorming ideas on what could be interesting as a topic. It must be a topic that hasn’t been covered yet, of course. Once we have a list of potential topics, everyone gets to vote on what will be the Main Topic for the following issue. We usually go with that decision, but I remember a few terms ago when more than 90% of people voted on a topic that we ended up not taking. My deputy and I decided on the topic Misfits instead, although that topic only had two votes, coming from the both of us. Guess that’s one of the few perks of being editor-in-chief.

  1. How do you manage a deadline as early in the semester as one month after it started? And what do you do afterwards?

For everything to go as smoothly as possible, the team and I sit down during the term break to plan everything out with a very strict schedule. Experience, of course, already plays into this, so we kind of know how well some deadlines will work out or how much time you really need to give people with certain assignments to get reasonable results. Then, one week before the term actually starts, I write an e-mail to the course and give the participants all the details, so everyone is already well-prepared and know what’s coming. That method has been working out for us pretty well.

  1. Do some of your Lehramt students plan on using the skills and ideas from your magazine project later on, in the school classroom?

As I’m not going to become a teacher, I can only make assumptions here, but I think working in a team project like eMAG definitely makes organizing a bit easier later on, when you want to get anything done with a horde of 30 pupils. I look at it realistically, though, and say that it’s most likely not going to be a magazine in and of itself. What is useful, I would imagine, is the skills you learn without even noticing for the most part: Working in a team, problem solving, time management. Skills that are becoming more and more important in our society. So maybe that is our little contribution to the development of our students in the course. I, at least, hope so and, most importantly, that it’s a fun time for everyone in what’s otherwise often a very monotonous university day.