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We can see progress all over the world, such as technological transformations, or rising life expectancies and literacy rates. Are these improvements in material conditions accompanied by a change in moral standards? So far, such questions have mainly been discussed in the area of philosophy. CHRISTIAN WELZEL is interested in finding empirical evidence that allows tangible conclusions on this matter. As he explains in this video, his research team uses public opinion surveys, in particular, the World Values Survey, which questions people all over the world about their convictions and beliefs. They, then, compare these data with objective data about people’s living conditions. Their findings suggest an overarching organizing scheme that locates people’s mindsets between two poles: submissive instincts and emancipatory drives. They also found that mentalities in societies change over time depending on exterior conditions.


Christian Welzel is Chair of Political Culture Research at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Leuphana University of Lüneburg. Furthermore, he is Vice-President of the World Values Survey Association, Stockholm, and Foreign Director of the National Research University - Higher School of Economics, Moscow. His research interests include value formation, cultural change, and public opinion as well as social change and human empowerment. For his scientific work, he has received several awards, including the Alexander L. George Award for Freedom Rising (2013). He is also elected Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and Fellow of the Center for the Study of Democracy, University of California, Irvine.


Leuphana University, Lüneburg

Sustainability research, cultural research, education, management and entrepreneurship: Through these four science initiatives, in course work and research, Leuphana University of Lüneburg addresses the challenges of civil society in the 21st century. The bodies responsible for these initiatives are the faculties newly established in 2010: Education , Culture , Business  and Sustainability . There are research topics spanning multiple faculties – in keeping with developments of current and future relevance – devoted to the Democracy, Digital Media and Health.   Companion to the substantive quality of the curriculum, Leuphana places particular reliance on students' responsibility, curiosity and initiative, on a broad-ranging change in perspective that questions presumably settled knowledge, and on dialogue not only among the various disciplines but between science and practice. The course of study follows a degree model unique to the German higher-education landscape, a model  that has already received multiple awards. With its launch of the Digital School in 2013, Leuphana also entered the age of the online universities, where it is setting new standards in social learning.   For its development as a humanistic, action-oriented  and sustainable  university, in 2007 Leuphana received an award from the business community's innovation agency for the German science system, the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, in its competition devoted to 'Excellence Strategies for Small and Medium-Sized Universities', and in 2010 from the Mercator Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation for the nationwide competition on 'The Future of Instruction'.   To strengthen Lüneburg as a location for research and business, scientists and the business community are working side by side on visionary projects under unique conditions, as part of the EU-sponsored regional development project for Innovation Incubators. A total of nearly EUR 100 million is flowing into regional economic development. In more than 50 projects, there are some 300 firms in the former Lüneburg district working with teams of researchers on behalf of a broad range of new research and infrastructure projects and measures in education and training. The Incubator places the emphasis on the topics of Digital Media, Health and Sustainable Energy. ( Source )  
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Original publication

Freedom Rising

Welzel Christian
Published in 2013

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