42 Berlin: intercultural, interdisciplinary, interoperable

42 Wolfsburg/Berlin
5 min readNov 12, 2021

The software academy “42” is opening its next location in Berlin. In the spirit of the Bauhaus, 42 Berlin is to become a pioneering workshop studio for peer-learning, focusing on digital technologies that propel our world forward.

“The mind is like an umbrella — it works best when open.” This one hundred year old quote comes from Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus and pioneer of practice-oriented peer-learning pedagogy; future needs origin. Gropius sums up the philosophy of our software academy for the future in a nutshell: 42 Berlin is about learning to design digital systems that superpose the virtual and tangible world. Openness is a foundational value for us at 42, because digital ecosystems work best when they are based on open standards and become interoperable.

EU President Ursula von der Leyen, in an essay in October 2020, called for the founding of a “new European Bauhaus”. As developers of cyber-physical systems, we are ready to heed this call: As such, we are opening the first “42” in Gropius’ hometown next summer. With the capacity to train up to 600 next-generationn software engineers, we are implementing the peer-learning pedagogy focusing on passion, peers, play and projects.

“42” is open in every respect — culturally, technically and ideologically. We attract students who understand that a meaningful redesign of the physical world with the help of digital technology is only possible if we work together in transdisciplinary teams. And we look for new technical solutions to the big challenges of our time — namely to repair the damage the old technologies of the industrial age created.

Berlin, the city of constant transformation, will play a key role in this. At 42 Berlin a new generation of software engineers will learn to design transformative technology: economically empowering, socially fair and ecologically sustainable.

Our Berlin school will open in June 2022 and will be the third institution of its kind in Germany. Utilizing the curriculum of our seminal mother school, 42 Paris, and with the support of Volkswagen / CARIAD, SAP, Microsoft, Bayer, T-Systems, Capgemini and many other partners from business, academia, civil society and politics, we will create a place of learning where students receive a first-class education to become self-determined, entrepreneurial technologists.

42 Berlin sets out to become a workshop studio for learners and thought leaders in socially responsible innovation for cyber-physical systems of all kinds. Important fields of application and thus focal points at the Berlin campus are cyber-physical systems for Mobility & Smart Cities, digitally enhanced Healthcare and Education Tech.

Digital services and platforms will only develop their full thrust for a better world if they are interoperable through open standards. These systems have to be created by diverse teams. Only by including multiple perspectives is it possible to solve the many wicked problems of our time — and to create the acceptance necessary for the solutions to succeed.

The development of the Berlin campus is of course informed by the experiences from 42 Wolfsburg. The two schools complement each other: Wolfsburg is all about the (green) future of mobility; the Berlin location will significantly expand the range of fields of studies and applications. The two schools also offer students the choice of living in a world-class metropolis or a medium-sized German city, with quality of life for families and affordable student accommodation that fosters community. Wolfsburg also offers the chance to be close with nature — with the Harz national park close by our community can enjoy a fantastic adventure playground for climbers, mountain bikers, kayakers, and hikers.

42 Berlin builds on many tested and confirmed pedagogical principles, learning experiences and content created in Wolfsburg:

  1. Self-determined learning and peer learning with a growth mindset
    At “42”, students learn independently and from one another. There are no professors or lectures, but plenty of space for learners to understand the principles and master the practice of coding, as well as to develop social competence and to grow one‘s personality. Indeed we believe in the concept of the growth mindset: People who believe in their own abilities and persist in their ambitions can outgrow and transform themselves. To support students, it is the task of a modern educational institution to offer a motivating, enabling and affirming environment.
    Our 42 Fellows, experts from academia and industry, understand this and support our students by sharing their passion, knowledge and experience .
  2. Comprehensive education beyond coding
    At a coding school, students of course learn to develop software. But good software engineers should be able to do more. At 42 Berlin and 42 Wolfsburg, we encourage our students to develop a pragmatic attitude towards the world as a whole and towards organizations in particular. Besides programming, we foster an awareness for the art of living a good life. The goal is: Find your personal pace and train good habits for a life in harmony with your own needs, values and ambitions. Learn to learn. Code your own operating system for your good life.
  3. Radical inclusion
    42 Wolfsburg and 42 Berlin are based on a community principle of the Burning Man Festival — radical inclusion. We believe in the power of diversity and attract talent from extremely diverse backgrounds, worldviews and lifestyles. As with all 42 schools worldwide, there are no tuition fees and no formal qualifications that restrict access. Any adult with the talent and ambition to pass our four-week entrance examination, the so-called “Piscine”, can study with us. 42 thus represents a clear commitment to social mobility.

After a challenging yet successful year of building 42 Wolfsburg we know: We can hack education by offering our students a learning space in which diversity and self-determination, ambition and first-class learning tools are combined to create a future-oriented collaborative learning experience.

In Berlin we are now taking the next step. Maybe the Wolfsburg students infected us with their growth mindset. For sure Walter Gropius already knew a century ago: “We have to give the youth more opportunities to self-experiment during their education. Only if we let them find facts for themselves can knowledge become wisdom.”

In Gropius’ spirit, 42 Berlin will become a place of learning for all involved. If you would like to join us — as a student, a fellow, a partner — please contact us today!

We are curious to explore all possibilities of cooperation as we are convinced that only when we ourselves work in intercultural and interdisciplinary teams, will we be able to develop the interoperable cyber-physical systems we seek.



42 Wolfsburg/Berlin

42 is an innovative, higher education software engineering school, sponsored by Volkswagen