“2019: The Postgraduate Center at the University of Vienna is offering a completely new programme, the Studium Generale. I was immediately hooked when I read this on the homepage of the University of Vienna. Postgraduate, post-employment; not qualification but general education is the goal.
I was very enthusiastic, curious and determined to be part of this first, ‘historic’ programme. I, that is Norbert J. Gratzl, just turned slim 70 (in January 2021), was born and raised in a Tyrolean working-class family. After a long period of work in different occupations, ranging from clerk and teacher to radiology technician, and obtaining a degree in a social sciences degree programme, I am now retired and, again, looking for new challenges. In my spare time, I like to spend time in the mountains (hiking, going on fixed rope routes, ski touring…). This is one of the parts of the ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ philosophy. I hoped to cover the other part, the cognitive one, through the Studium Generale.
Now, after successfully completing twelve modules – the exciting academic blend comprises: Sociology, Political Science, Law, Physics, Chemistry, Molecular Biology, Pharmacobotany, Contemporary History, Computer Science and German Studies – I can, and there are no ifs and buts, say: Yes, the Studium General programme is actual brain training. My expectations have been substantially exceeded. I did not miss even one minute of a lecture or exercise. And I do not regret any minute. If I were to recommend others whether to participate or not, my answer would be a definite Yes, but under the terms of a good health, of spending a lot of time on it, of being very curious to acquire new knowledge and of displaying a certain degree of social behaviour. Digital studying was not a problem for me personally, since I am rather a loner anyway. Rather the contrary: It prompted me to deal more with IT and the Internet. In March 2021, I started my master’s year. I am writing my master’s thesis about democracy and human rights. The title is: ‘Lifelong learning: How far does the human right to education extend? Historical and current examples and what can Studium General contribute?’. I am really looking forward to it. It should be a comprehensive thesis. It is hard to deny its great contemporary historical relevance, since an educational gap that can currently not be overlooked will be part of it. Have there also been funny moments? I am not sure whether ‘funny’ is the right word, but there were quite a few enjoyable moments, and I could tell many anecdotes. But this is another story.” – Norbert Gratzl
Norbert is studying the Studium Generale postgraduate programme at the University of Vienna.