This content is only partially available in English.
This content is only partially available in English.

Three questions for

Photo: Max Kullmann / © Mainz University of Applied Sciences

Three questions for Professor Anja Soeder – Professor of Spatial Communication

Professor Anja Soeder was appointed Professor at Mainz University of Applied Sciences in March 2023 and teaches Spatial Communication at the School of Design.

What prompted you to switch to Mainz University of Applied Sciences?

It was love at first sight: The small class sizes and the positioning of the degree program in the School of Design immediately appealed to me and prompted me to apply for the professorship. I studied architecture in a similar environment at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart and benefited greatly from the personal contact with the teaching staff. Design is not a linear process that can be taught in a traditional classroom setting. Instead, it requires an open working situation that offers students the opportunity to engage with the current issues of our lives and our environment and to develop their own mindset as designers. The role of the teacher is primarily to advise and motivate, which is far more possible in a personal teaching situation. And after two semesters, I can say that this form of teaching is particularly cultivated here by the entire teaching staff and creates an atmosphere of trust.

A second point that I find exciting is the proximity to other design disciplines. Design projects can often only be completed in interdisciplinary teams. In my previous professional experience, I was often only able to complete projects as part of a team with communication and media designers. These disciplines are represented here in one school and there are opportunities for collaboration on teaching projects that reflect the students’ future in the profession.

What do you find most appealing about your new position?

I would say it is the interaction of several factors rather than any one aspect. First of all, a university is a place where many people from different perspectives address the current challenges facing our society and look for possible solutions. This means I can work in a very inspiring environment, which generates a lot of ideas and opportunities for collaboration.

And then, of course, there is the dialog with the students! Their perception of the world we live in, their individual perspectives and proposed solutions allow me to reflect on and expand my own position time and again. That is how you keep learning new things yourself.

What topic would you like to exchange ideas with students on in a casual setting?

I recently held a future scenario workshop with students as a kick-off to a project, where we speculated on possible future developments in the city of Mainz on the basis of researched parameters. In the crossroads between desired and worst-case scenarios, it became clear that political, social, ecological, and technological changes have an impact on everyone’s everyday life. And it was also evident that we as a society are facing many major challenges that we can only overcome by working together. An informal discussion here provides a good setting for thinking about how we can meet these challenges, free from conventional approaches and inspired by speculative thinking. I would like to explore the question of how we can establish a culture of togetherness and find contemporary forms of direct exchange to promote social involvement in greater depth with the students.

Under the heading “Three questions for…”, newly appointed professors are presented here in varying order.