Meeting new people and exchanging ideas

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FAU student Maximilian Harl has been selected for the 23rd intake of the Bavarian Elite Academy. (image: private)

FAU student Maximilian Harl is driven by his wish to ‘accept responsibility and improve society’. This is what swayed the jury of the Bavarian Elite Academy in his favour, when they selected him for the 23rd BEA intake. He is one of a total of 40 young people from eleven Bavarian universities and institutes of higher education who will receive further training in leadership and assuming responsibility.

Leadership and ethics

When the extra-curricular programme begins in August, 19 women and 21 men studying subjects such as business administration, economics, chemistry, social work, engineering, media or philosophy will come together to share their views on topics ranging from company management to ethics or megatrends. Maximilian Harl is looking forward to meeting new people and exchanging ideas. ‘The thing that I like best about the programme is its inherently interdisciplinary nature. My aim is to reach out to the other scholarship holders and build bridges between our various disciplines. I very much hope that we will all benefit from each other’s experiences.’

The programme, which lasts two years, includes attendance phases lasting four weeks and held during the lecture-free period. Scholarship holders are assigned a mentor from industry, and work together on a joint project. The programme also includes trips abroad, and fireside chats with well-known personalities.

As well as the various opportunities it offers, Harl hopes the programme will give him some guidance about which direction to take in future: ‘What options do I have, which path can I take?’ The Master’s student, who is an active member of the Students’ Representatives and the student committee, also sees the programme as a way to gain an insight into political education. ‘As an information systems specialist in training, I am very interested in transformation processes in our economy. I would like to understand the socio-economic situation in Germany and the world better and make my contribution to it.’

Venturing into politics

Two events have made a particularly lasting impression on Harl, who volunteers as a paramedic in his free time. During his semester abroad in Hong Kong two years ago, he experienced the demonstrations there at first hand, and remembers that he was struck particularly by the ‘extreme behaviour of everyone involved’. On the one hand, the Chinese police searched the students’ rooms, and arrested any protesters they found living there. On the other, the demonstrators occupied the uni and set it alight. I was deeply shocked.’ His second semester abroad in Finland didn’t go according to plan either. Due to the dramatic situation with the coronavirus in early 2020 and the closures of European borders he had to leave the country within a matter of hours.

According to the chairperson of the Students’ Representatives, our society is facing major changes. We have to drive digitalisation forward, and strengthen democratic values and the market economy, at the same time as reshaping international relations and foreign policy. ‘The rest of the world sees European values differently. It opened my eyes to how fragile our political systems actually are,’ he concludes. He hopes to continue playing an active role at FAU, whilst also venturing into politics. ‘I want to make a change in society,’ Maximilian Harl stresses.