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Manfred Max-Neef († 8. August 2019)

We have lost a brilliant thinker and outstanding visionary. SPRING Dortmund mourns Manfred Max Neef (1932 – 2019).

Manfred Max Neef150

The death of Manfred Max-Neef leaves a big gap at Universidad Austral de Chile (UACh) in Validivia, in his home country Chile - and all over the world. As a former Director of the SPRING programme, I would like to recall a facet of Manfred's international activities:

At the beginning of 2006, the Rector of UACh appointed him as a special representative for the partnership with TU Dortmund. I wrote him a short welcome email. Barely five minutes later, I had Manfred on the phone. And just two weeks later he paid us a visit in Dortmund. We had quickly arranged for a public lecture, a lecture on transdisciplinarity at our university by this renowned Chilean economist. The lecture was well received. But even more importantly: An hour after the lecture we travelled together to Bonn for a meeting with DAAD representatives. Manfred was enthusiastic about the idea of extending the SPRING network to Valdivia, he fully endorsed our programme, and his enthusiasm was contagious. When the DAAD representative asked “Professor Max-Neef, when do you think you can start the SPRING programme in Valdivia?” Manfred replied without hesitation: “Immediately!”

Obviously he was convinced that the cooperation with SPRING provided the format of internationalisation, which UACh, his own university, needed. We had found each other: He, who had always emphasized that "La economía está para servír a las personas y no las personas a la economía". And we, who are convinced that spatial planning must always be for the people. Back in Valdivia, he infected his colleagues with his enthusiasm, convinced all committee representatives, and indeed, as quickly as at no other university in the world, all preparations were completed, and only three months later the first international Master students arrived at UACh.

From that moment on, he took care of students from all over the world with the same enthusiasm, introduced them to the concepts of ecologically oriented economics, and supervised Master's theses. Even many years later, he made it a point to attend all international graduation ceremonies. Thus, generations of our SPRING students have carried the belief in the possibility of human scale development to Armenia, Iran, Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia, the Philippines and many other countries. At the same time they remember him as an open-minded, caring and approachable university professor.  (Prof. Dr. Einhard Schmidt-Kallert)



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