The Seven Guiding Principles design the framework on which the mission and vision statements can be accomplished. It should be understood as an attempt to go from abstract targets to concrete implementation opportunities in order to achieve these sophisticated targets.
Principle 1: Focus on Students
This major principle of the Carl Benz Academy is emphasizing the approach of life-long education. By focusing on the students an individualization of the study program needs to be achieved because conventional ideas and procedures of administrative study and teaching organizations are outdated. New successful approaches should highlight flexibility, communication and service (student-relationship marketing).
Because full time study programs are not compatible with the needs of professionals in their advanced stage of career life anymore, new learning approaches are to be provided to focus on the professionals’ needs and give the opportunity to allocate study contents anywhere and anytime. Lifelong learning is essential to remain highly competitive in a fast changing market and a more and more globalized economy. Because professionals are involved in their work every day they are seeking further education that is compatible with their life phase and career goals.
But life phase orientation is not only ensuring the balance between work life and study intentions it also considers the necessity of providing study contents that are highly relevant for the professionals’ development and field of work.
Principle 2: Humboldt’s Educational Ideal – Scientific Based Learning
Humboldt’s Educational Ideal is the guiding principle and quality gate of the CBA’s lectureship. The ideal’s core is the unity of teaching and research. The accomplishment to work scientifically is dependent on the knowledge about scientific processes and their rules, methods and information. Only with this background it is possible to substantiate comprehensible and unequivocal scientific statements, hypotheses and theories.
Furthermore, it is the precondition of participating in comprehensive professional discussions, whose consequences on the other hand are new perceptions and developments. Therefore, not only knowledge and cognitions are substantial but also the qualification of methodically coordinated understanding.
Principle 3: Problem/Work Based Learning
Students of the Carl Benz Academy are professionals in their fields. This approach of problem/work based learning is aiming at key situations the students experience in their every day work. Therefore, the most efficient way for them to develop in their field of expertise is to receive relevant work based learning opportunities. The ideal is that students have the chance to incorporate their own projects and problems into their studies. Here students can reflect, discuss and analyze them and use the learned knowledge to transfer and test it in their work life.
Principle 4: Networking
This principle includes different facets of networking. One is peer learning which shall enable the students to reflect and solve key situations by understanding different perspectives of the situation such as personal experience and ability, interaction and relationship with others (interdisciplinary forces) and last but not least external influences.
The interdisciplinary character of incorporating the knowledge of the group and external forces is highly efficient and forms complex thinking patterns. Another facet is the research association. Students have the opportunity to work closely together with other peers in their professional field and professors with academic and practical expertise in the professional field. Here they have the chance to share and build their knowledge.
The aggregation of diverse and comprehensive knowledge leaves room for the development and enhancement of that certain field just as Humboldt’s Educational Ideal is conceiving.
Principle 5: Reflective Practice
Reflective practice is an important principle for practice-based professional education where individuals learn from their own professional experience rather than just from formal teaching and knowledge transfer. Most valuable about this approach is the idea of bringing together theory and practice. Reflective practice enables individuals to see theories and schools of thought within the context of their work. It furthermore incorporates a conscious look at emotions, experience, actions and reactions that will add to an individual’s existing knowledge enabling it to extract new knowledge, meaning and understanding.
The knowledge on how to learn from experience is an initial factor to success. During the process of reflective practice an individual is confronted with security which is its knowledge and experience and insecurity which is the unknown but existing perspective that was not yet considered by the individual. This creates room for growth and development.
Principle 6: Learning Organization
The traditional way of leading an organization is characterized by building on hierarchy where the head of the organization is formulating the guidelines and direction for the organization. It is conditioning the basis to follow those defined guidelines mechanically. The limits of the model are soon immanent and it is not able to fulfill the requirements of complex services that have complicated external conditions. Providing life stage oriented study programs that furthermore offer work relevant contents and therefore promote professionals within their work field by following the principles of higher academic education is a highly complex and interactive performance requirement the Carl Benz Academy is aiming at. This challenge can only be achieved when the organization’s self-navigation abilities are used for advantage.
The Carl Benz Academy is self-reflective and therefore not conditioning its participants to follow defined rules of organization. It rather is learning itself and hence is flexible and capable to react appropriately on changes. All the same this is the requisition the Carl Benz Academy is asking of their students. Passive adaption and conditioning is not the aim of an academic education but building a conscious relationship to one’s own capabilities.
Principle 7: Competence Orientation
This principle is closely related to the principles 3) Problem/Work Based Learning and 5) Reflective Practice. While Work Based Learning is aiming at mediating the ability to react in key situations, Reflective Practice emphasizes the importance to apply a comprehensive problem solving approach considering different perspectives. Although this is contributing to the competence profile there are more dimensions to this principle. First of all it is aiming at mediating the capacity to act in general. Therefore, it is more holistic and does not just want to foster the capacity to act in certain situations but it underlines the importance of a broader more general competence profile which will help to work interdisciplinary and adapt to changing and various situations in work life.
This principle is assisting the idea of working closely together with organizations in a relation based on partnership. In order to have a close Competence Orientation the curriculum has to be adapted to a certain organization’s needs in terms of human resource capital (employees’ abilities to serve the organizations aims). This also implies the necessity of having a more output oriented, impact related study content than just focusing on the input.