I studied German literature and language, philosophy and history in Berne, Zurich and Berlin and graduated with an MA and a Ph.D. from Zurich University. I wrote my dissertation about a radical critique not only of the totalitarian German Democratic Republic but of the exploitative and destructive Western industrial society in general, namely Stefan Schütz’ novel Medusa.
After a short period as a grammar school teacher in Switzerland I was appointed as a lecturer, later senior lecturer at the German Department of the University of Wales Swansea (1992-2005). For the next few years I developed a strong research reputation and publication record in contemporary German literary studies (see German Studies writings). Whilst even here my focus was mostly wider than narrow textual studies, only the birth of my first child Meret in 1994 refocused my attention on the crucial question: what am I doing with my life?
From then on I started to build a second, voluntary career alongside my lecturing job, largely signalling a return to many of my interests in my youth. I initiated an environmental group at the University of Wales Swansea (UWS), drafted its Environmental Policy Statement and helped set up the Environment Sub-Committee of UWS, which I chaired since its inception until 2005. I also set up and managed the Environment web pages of the University (now defunct). I became involved in many local, regional and national environmental and sustainability groups and projects, such as the Environment Centre in Swansea, SANE (Swansea Airport No Extension) or the EAUC (Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges). I designed and taught modules, degree schemes, adult education courses on sustainability, trained as a PP4SD trainer and finally gained an MSc in Education for Sustainability from London South Bank University. My dearest and most important book publications are Do We Know What We Are Doing? Reflections on Learning, Knowledge, Economics, Community and Sustainability (2014) and Our Common Illiteracy. Education as if the Earth and People Mattered (2012) (see Learning for Sustainability Writings).
I organised the first national conference on Education for Sustainability in Wales (see conference webpages) and was subsequently invited to become a member of the Education for Sustainable Development Advisory Panel to the Welsh Assembly Government (for which I drafted a Higher Education Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development, now incorporated into the ESD Strategy). I am also a member of the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC), IUCN (World Conservation Union) and a member of the International Advisory Board for The EcoJustice Review “Educating for the Commons”. Additionally, I am Member of the Institution of Environmental Sciences (UK) and acted as head of theme 2 (Reclaiming a sense of place in the digital age) at the 8th WEEC in Gothenburg in June/July 2015.
I have won various research grants from Pro Helvetia, DAAD, the Leverhulme Trust, the ESD Advisory Panel in Wales and the Higher Education Academy.
In June 2005 I returned to Switzerland with my family and am now working in the field of environmental education. I first joined and then from August 2007 onwards lead the Swiss Foundation for Environmental Education (Stiftung Umweltbildung Schweiz) which was tasked by the regional and national government(s) to mainstream ESD in the Swiss education system. In 2012 the Foundation was forced into a merger with the then Stiftung Bildung und Entwicklung by Government ministries and political will. I then stayed just under a year at the new organisation, éducation21. From August 2013 till June 2014 I worked as a teamleader for Kaospilots Switzerland and as a sustainability coach and consultant. Since October 2014 I am director of SILVIVA, again a small foundation specialising in how learning in and with nature can strengthen learning for sustainability.
My passion to contribute to a sustainable world through meaningful learning journeys has, if anything, strengthened over the years.