During my travels, I’ve enjoyed meeting many different people with diverse viewpoints and opinions. I’ve learned a lot from casual conversations. Here are five conversations I had in Germany and my thoughts about them.
I often get asked what a “typical day” on my Watson journey looks like. The short answer is that it depends. I was in Freiburg and Berlin for six weeks each, and my schedule looked different in each location. So here’s the long answer!
[An installment of the new series: Priya catches up on blogging!]
“Time goes by fast!” The thought passed through my head repeatedly as my bus pulled out of Freiburg’s central station, and I looked out the window at the familiar sights rolling by for the last time. It was September 3, the end of my six weeks in Freiburg. You’d think six weeks is too short a time to get attached to a place, but let me tell you — it’s definitely not. I fell in love with the cozy city, surrounded by the beautiful Black Forest and full of wonderful people such as Sebastian, Theresa, Timo, Kadda, and (remotely) my sublessor Kathrin, who all made me feel welcome and at home.
So what exactly did I do in Freiburg between my last “life update” and the end of my time there? First of all, I met with a number of people working in the Smart Grid or renewable energy realms: technical researchers, social scientists, representatives from energy utilities, consultants, representatives from Smart Grid technology companies, and people who fit more than one of these categories. (Some of the resultant interview writeups are posted, and some are forthcoming.) As part of this process, I spent time reading papers and articles online to learn more about my interviewees’ work and Smart Grids/renewable energy in Germany.
Of course, I also made plenty of time to have fun! I toured the surrounding area, had some visitors, and admittedly watched a little too much Netflix (I’m working on it). There were moments big and small of many varieties — funny, lonely, happy, and sad — and I’ll (hopefully) get better at sharing more of these moments as I start to blog more consistently during the rest of my Watson year. For the end of my time in Freiburg, though, I’ll simply share some highlights.
On August 18, I met with Prof. Dr. Dr. Franz-Josef Brüggemeier, Professor of Economic, Social, and Environmental History at the University of Freiburg. Prof. Brüggemeier studies environmental history, the history of sports, and the history of medicine. I went into his office hoping to better understand how the historical environmental movement has influenced the modern one in Germany.
During our conversation, Prof. Brüggemeier said that the connection between the historical and modern environmental movements is very complicated. While the historical environmental movement was conservative and focused on lifestyle change, the Energiewende is leftist and focuses on keeping our current lifestyle. Of course, there’s a fascinating history behind that simple statement.
On August 13, I headed back to Fraunhofer ISE to meet with Kristin Goldbach. Ms. Goldbach’s background is in environmental science and sustainable urban development, with a focus on participatory approaches. Her research examines user behavior pertaining to renewable energy and Smart Cities in different European settings; Ms. Goldbach’s master’s dissertation was about her work on the EU’s ORIGIN project, and she’s currently working on the EU’s iUrban project.
My final meeting at Fraunhofer ISE on August 12 was with Gerhard Stryi-Hipp. Mr. Stryi-Hipp is Fraunhofer ISE’s Coordinator for “Smart Energy Cities,” Fraunhofer ISE’s Head of Energy Policy, and President of the European Technology Platform on Renewable Heating and Cooling. He has worked on renewable energy and Smart City projects both domestically and internationally.
My second meeting at Fraunhofer ISE on August 12 was with Wolfgang Biener. Mr. Biener researches electrical energy systems, in particular operation and reinforcement strategies for distribution grids as well as the needs of a renewable energy system on the transmission grid.