About the human condition: Kassel Youth Symposium on the “Conditio humana”

Since 2009, the Kassel Youth Symposium, which is held twice a year by the Association of Independent Waldorf Schools (BdFWS), has provided high school students and young university students with a challenging forum to discuss socially pressing issues. In recent years, the participants have dealt with such topics as power, freedom or identity and met fascinating public figures. After the first symposium in 2020 had to be cancelled due to Covid-19, and then it was only possible to have an online version in December, the organisers has planed a hybrid conference on “Conditio humana: What is it like to be human?” for 2021.

This year’s edition of the Youth Symposium will also celebrate 100 years of high school classes at Waldorf schools. In addition to Waldorf students in Years 11 to 13 from all over Germany, students from high schools in Kassel were also invited to write an essay to apply for the symposium. Other participants will include teachers from the University of Kassel and several BdFWS training centres, as well as lecturers from the field of Waldorf teacher training. “Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the way we humans change our perspective when we consider our direct experience and create meaning was central to educational processes”, states the conference website. “Through long periods of distance learning, schools have been tasked with developing their own self-relation into a judicious and dialogue-like relation to the world to a whole new degree.”

From 9 to 12 June, a programme featuring prominent figures awaits 150 interested parties onsite at documenta-Halle, as well as many more in front of their screens. The author and essayist Siri Hustvedt, coming to us from New York, will give a series of lectures on the focal point of the conference, the philosopher Thomas Fuchs will talk about physical and interpersonal spaces and the sociologist Hartmut Rosa will talk about resonance. “The three speakers share the concern of counteracting today’s widespread materialistic conception of humans with more comprehensive perspectives”, explains Andreas Rebmann, the designated SAGST project manager. “It will be extraordinarily exciting to discuss this in the context of Waldorf pedagogy, which is also based on a holistic concept of education.”