Oct 9, 2017

Provide education in ethics and sustainability


1. Surveys on ethical dilemmas:

As announced in our last report, we have implemented a new section on our website where we run online surveys on ethical dilemmas. The first survey performed was a case study about somebody witnessing their boss submitting false travel expenses and what one should do in a case like this. The results of the survey have been published on our website. The case study as well as the survey and the results are also being used in classes on ethical competencies.

2. Once again, we organized a "PhiloBrunch", now with Martina Münch-Nicolaidis: „Ethics in Extremely Difficult Situations  – Innovative support for mourning children and youths“, our forum for exchange on practical aspects of ethical questions in a brunch atmosphere.

July 22nd is characterized by mourning in Munich; exactly one year ago, where a young man ran amok in the Olympic shopping center and that shook the state capital. This PhiloBrunch was held to commemorate this event on the topic of mourning; our guest was Martina Muench-Nicolaidis, founder of the YoungWings Foundation.

Suffering can best be overcome by helping

Angela Poech, professor at the Munich University of Applied Sciences  and a member of the board of Ethica Rationalis, told the participants about the emotions that the memory of this tragedy caused in her (sadness, anxiety and a feeling of helplessness). After that, she spoke about how the victims were helped, and what positive feelings condolence and support can lead to (optimism, gratitude, compassion). She came to the realization that "suffering can best be done by providing help". 

Martina Nicolaidis has been following precisely this maxim for more than 15 years with her YoungWings Foundation for young people who are dealing with the loss of a partner or parent. This work is her vocation. After loss of her own husband at a young age, she herself had to experience what the such a loss means. Therefore, she wants to help people who have experienced similar hardships. After losing her husband at the age of 28, Martina established a self-help group, since no group had yet been set up for an exchange among young widowed people.

With this organization, she has truly stuck a nerve, because there are organizations that specialize in the acute crisis intervention, but none that provide support in the long term. Especially since there are many more young people are affected by this situation than most suspect. For example, in Germany there are presently e.g. 80,000 full and half orphans. Ms Steindorff-Classen, professor at the University of Munich, confirmed this gap by reporting on her own experience: she took a young convicted man into the CONTEXT program, who was marked by a heavy, traumatic destiny to spare him from prison.

However, neither she nor her team are specialized in this. Nevertheless, they took up the challenge, since there is no suitable support for situations like this in Germany.

Bereavement counseling means being able to endure the pain of others

The topic of mourning touched the guests very much, and they also used the opportunity to get tips for their private environment. When asked how to best help mourners, the expert replied: "The most important thing is to be there for the person, to go to him again and again: "The challenge is to endure"(for we feel helpless). Much has already been achieved if, for example, simply making coffee or to take over cooking for a week. 

Responsibility through social work requires professional action

To work on the subject, a case study was distributed: The core of this study was whether a dubious contractor is allowed to accept a high donation in order to support the work of a social institution. The discussion was very controversial, and there were several suggested solutions from "accepting the donation" to "weighing the alternatives to funding the organization", "analyzing the contractor's intention" to the clear "rejection of the donation". In this context, Martina Muench-Nicolaidis explained that "social entrepreneurship is also a business" and that we all will be measured based on our decisions. Therefore, value-based decisions are very important ("and being aware of ones values"). In this context, a participant argued that the acceptance of this donation even comes close to the abuse of the association concerned (image improvement).

Social responsibility is also based on the individual's gut feeling

The question was raised as to whether and how organizations can demonstrate "regret" at all after a case of  misconduct. The plenum developed that from a company perspective, one building block is the establishment and implementation of effective long-term compliance programs, but also the elaboration of the causes of the offense. From an individual point of view, it was more a question of which actions followed the regret - in the sense of a repairing the damage done. Likewise, sincerity is important and the question should always be: "What is acceptable for me?". A decision for a particular reaction should not be taken "when my stomach tells me something is wrong with it.For nothing is more dangerous than the "separation of head and belly". Later, Angela Poech explained that what we call an  "abdominal feeling" has been verified in neurosciences as an autonomous nervous system, and is most closely related to what we call "emotional intelligence"; from the point of view of psychology, one would speak of "intuition", whereby intuition is nothing other than the ability to evaluate large amounts of (reflected) experiences in milliseconds.

Everybody can make an important contribution

The guests were very touched and enthusiastic about meeting with Martina Muench Nicolaidis. This was demonstrated not only by  the fact that this Event attracted more participants than usual, but also in the valuable feedback to the Question "What do I take with me?". 

The participants were very much impressed by the openness of Marina Nicolaidis. Even the most personal questions were readily answered.

She is a strong personality, and the well-being of her team is her top priority.

Thus, despite all of her success, she remains very down to earth and does everything in her might to make sure her employees are well. One participant (a businesswoman) took the impulses especially to heart and noticed that she had more responsibility for her team than she had realized; and she wondered how she could measure up to this.

In closing, Mrs. Nicolaidis stated that she was delighted to have been able to speak "with so many great people in an safe environment".

She mentioned that she was especially looking forward to deepening new contacts, aiming to close the mentioned gap between crises management and long-term interventions.

All participants agreed that the PhiloBrunch has not only provided an impetus for everyday life, but also supports networking and cooperation of participants, making the world a tiny bit better.


Jul 10, 2017

Provide education in ethics and sustainability

Ethica Salon
Ethica Salon

1. "Ethica Salon" on May 6th, 2017 

Ethica Rationalis has introduced a new format called "Ethics Salon", a forum for discussion amongst likeminded people in a casual club-astmosphere. 

Our thoughts are inspired, our minds feel stimulated, our feeling is positively attuned by the encounter with   special people ...
people who are true leaders and who leave traces of appreciation in their surroundings.

As with an afternoon tea with lots of sweet and savory delicacies and a cozy cup of tea, let us take a time out in which we leave the world and all of our worries outside and take care of what really counts in our lives:

compassion, social commitment, tolerance - that is what helps us remain true to our convictions in everyday life. These role models  show how to make a positive impact on their surroundings  and create a micro environment in which all are treated respectfully and amiably. These are the people that we invite to the Ethica Salon so they can present ideas, discuss and answer questions.

In this first Ethics Salon event we focused on politics and ethics. Ethica Rationalis had invited Karl Freller, who impressively described moving experiences from his life as a politician. The deputy chairman of the Bavarian CSU parliamentary party talked about ethical dilemmas in politics. Politics is characterized by pluralistic, conflicting opinions, which makes reaching the 100 perfect agreement between all parties impossible.

Coalitions, compromises and consensus are the recurrent themes for him. And although compromises can be seen as giving up on (parts of) your goals, they are essential for achieving larger goals. But for this (and trained religious teacher) it is important to come out with a pure conscience. Thus, during his political career, he had not always supported individual decisions of his party.

Politics and Ethics - how does that work?

The attitude makes the difference. Because of his high morality, he was highly esteemed as a state secretary, but he very often had to cope with difficult situations . By "always being human," and really practicing that every human being is equally important, his behavior led to formal inconsistency, which resulted in conflicts, despite the great advantages for individuals. Thus, the mediator has made the experience: "Every good deed revenges itself." Instead of resigning, however, he remained idealistic and active. For example, he assumes e.g. Responsible for the past of our country, by acting as director for the concentration camp memorials Dachau and Flossenbürg. Likewise, the support of young people who are committed to politics is very important to him. "Democracy is only preserved when people are committed to good behavior". Otherwise, he sees the danger that the "bad" will get too much power. Thus he appealed - in the context of the elections in France - in any case, because with an electoral participation of less than 50%, the voice of a radical-minded person weighs twice as much. For this reason, he warned: "He who does not choose, leaves the power to radicals."

In the following discussion, differing opinions concerning the degree of interest in politics in the age group 25-  30 and possible lack thereof. But there was a consensus that democracy is not guaranteed and must be defended. While schools have a big responsibility in creating political awareness and interest of youths, but the greatest influence comes from the family home.

Mr. Frelle was was very enthused by the lively discussion, stating how rare it is nowadays that topics are discussed so deeply, often being treated only superficially, and ideas not being thought through. He made a surprising praise: "He was glad that there are such rich and meaningful conversations, where not once did anybody even glance at their mobile phone! ". The speaker ended his lecture with the words: "Politicians should not go to rhetoric seminars, but to learn to listen." With this he spoke to the participants from the heart and the participants were amazed at how "human" politicians can be. All the participants were enthusiastic about his comments and took the message that politics and ethics can very well go together and that one can achieve a lot with political commitment - and if only by voting. 

2. New: ethical dilemmas surveys

Whoever lives, loves and works in this society, will sooner or later face an ethical problem. Perhaps because he observes illicit behavior, or because he is the victim of injustice, or because he wants to defend or protect his fellow human beings from threats. These confrontations can be reduced to a simple formula: it is about rights and duties. So questions like: What rights do I have and how can I defend them? What duties do I have and how do I fulfill  them in everyday life? What happens if rights are violated or duties are not respected?In the many encounters we have had with people who are guided by ethical principles in, we have repeatedly encountered this problem. When asking our speakers, guests or workshop participants, we gained insights into situations they experienced as predicaments. So we developed the idea of collecting case studies for practical ethics. These case studies were either found in books or articles, or they were reported to us by people involved. These examples should be viewed as a way to put oneself in the shoes of the people involved and ask ourselves: How would I behave? Your opinion matters! We have discussed many of these case studies in events such as our regular PhiloBrunch. We would like to know what you think. So we created a survey tool that allows you to choose from multiple options. We will evaluate the results of the survey on each case study and publish a report on our website.

The first case study has been published and we look forward to your active participation!

3. Workshop on Practical Ethics

Together with the ETHIKUM program, we conducted a workshop about Practical Ethics at the University for Applied Sciences Munich on May 20th. The half-day workshop was led by Christian Strobl and was titled "Everyday conflicts and the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance". The participants (students of the ETHIKUM course) discussed the nature and root cause of inner and outer conflicts, typical dilemnas, as well as potential counter-strategies.

Participants were highly engaged and provided excellent feedback on the content and execution of the workshop.



Apr 12, 2017

Provide education in ethics and sustainability

Ethica Rationalis New Year Dinner, Pic1
Ethica Rationalis New Year Dinner, Pic1

In Q1/2017 our main activities evolved around the project

  • “KonTEXT” – a project to promote juveniles that have become delinquents

Prof. Steindorff-Classen is the founder of KonTEXT, the student reading project of the Munich University of Applied Sciences for the support of delinquent youths.

The project supports the juveniles that have been sent to judicially arranged reading measures. It also provides reading groups at the Juvenile Detention Center in Munich with text-workshops and topic groups and those who want to borrow books during the detention from the local library. tTe name “KonTEXT” was given by the students to stress the central importance of written texts for their work with the delinquent youths.

We strongly believe that this project deserves our support, due to its multi-dimensional approach:

  • supporting juvenile delinquents in experiencing alternatives to the life experience that they had so far had by means of reading
  • providing educational support for the juveniles
  • supporting/discovering their creativity
  • helping students discover possibilities to provide hands-on support for others in need
  • helping students to go outside of their comfort zone and encouraging dialog

Ethica Rationalis supported KonTEXT with appropriate IT equipment to make communication and administration more efficient between students and the juveniles.

Furthermore, Ethica Rationalis has enabled internships for two youths for a period of 6 months. With the help of this program we hope to show them a “way out” by using their creativity (writing workshop, design, audio and video works). We cover the costs of the internship as well as their travel expenses.


  • Ethica Rationalis New Year Dinner

Ethica Rationalis has been working with various close cooperation partners both in the scientific, well as in the practical areas. Especially the project ETHIKUM, that we organized together with the Munich University of Applied Sciences, as well as the so-called Philobrunch series have received a great response. We invited a number of our partners to a New Year’s Dinner to a relaxed atmosphere amongst likeminded individuals who are interested in the application of ethics the way that Ethica Rationalis suports (rational, universal and practical ethics).


  • Ethica Rationalis takes part in the competition “Good Example”

The competition "Good example" goes into the second round: Bayern 2, the culture and information radio of Bayerischer Rundfunk, is searching for people who make a difference and projects that make the society better as a whole. Ethica Rationalis has submitted its application.

Ethica Rationalis New Year Dinner, Pic2
Ethica Rationalis New Year Dinner, Pic2

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