Alexander Ritter, PPE student and founder on campus, reports on the great opportunities for personal fulfilment at Witten/Herdecke University, mutual support between students and how visions are coming true in Witten.

Looking for foresight

During my school days as well as during my business and management studies in London I realised that I had further academic interests: Philosophy, politics, psychology and sociology were disciplines just as interesting and important to me to be able to better understand society, human behaviour and life in itself. Business and management studies and my previous professional experience in the digital industry were not enough to satisfy my thirst for knowledge and meaning, which eventually brought me to Witten/Herdecke University (UW/H).

Meeting soul mates

My father told me about a Master's programme that seemed to be made for me: Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) – a programme that combines philosophical, political and economic findings in an interdisciplinary way and applies them to real problems in the world. After I had taken a close look at the programme and university, I decided to attend MASTERday, one of the university’s open days, in order to get a personal impression. The open atmosphere on campus and the conversations I had with students were immediately convincing. I had the feeling of having met people thinking profoundly and sophistically, and corresponding to my self-image as a political nerd as well. For the first time in my life I met soul mates – a great feeling indeed! Attending a philosophy seminar on a taster day finally encouraged me to take this important step. Above all, the small seminar group, in which such a lively discussion between students and teacher had developed, impressed me very much.

Hence, I started my PPE studies at UW/H, finally enabling me to develop foresight regarding complex social contexts and to work in an interdisciplinary manner, all this being complemented by general studies in liberal arts and humanities. This core curriculum is called Studium fundamentale (Stufu) and provides students with the opportunity to attend courses in totally different disciplines, thus expanding their horizon. Such courses range, for example, from singing classes via gardening to data science – a phenomenal variety.

Letting your own interests guide your studies

I was quite sure that my previous experience and my knowledge of digitality were valuable, and that I did not want to give up the skills I had already acquired, but rather wanted to integrate them into my studies. When I heard about the Entrepreneurship Centre Witten (EZW) on campus, I immediately wanted to get involved. The EZW primarily supports UW/H students in setting up their own businesses, often arising out of student projects. UW/H is a perfect place for visions to become reality. Students find an optimum infrastructure here, and the knowledge of the lecturers, who are always willing to listen even to unconventional ideas, is worth a mint. Besides, students with professional experience support the younger generation, just like in case of the digital marketing workshop for start-up companies and students I held, and from which I was able to benefit, too: Since the workshop was successful, EZW managing director Tim Kahrmann provided me with the opportunity to use the EZW premises for my own entrepreneurial ambitions. The result was the establishment of netspice, a full-service digital marketing service provider focusing on emerging markets and data targeting. We advise advertising companies and their media agencies on target groups and related marketing goals, and implement them as online marketing campaigns.

I am happy to share my knowledge with the next generation of UW/H students. We therefore keep on offering internships and working student jobs. I believe students can learn a lot here and implement the skills acquired directly in their student projects. In essence, I can say that my PPE studies combined with my entrepreneurial activities have helped me to gain a deeper insight into interdisciplinary work. The first impression I had on the taster day has proved to be true during my studies: What still impresses me most here is the great academic freedom students have to design their curriculum themselves and the active interaction with teachers. Students of the PPE Master’s programme in particular are students with different backgrounds, of all ages, from all corners of the world, on the most diverse paths of life and with different professional experiences. This inspires me every day – at work and while studying.