Climate change, migration, poverty and hunger, terrorism, economic and financial crises – these problems have in common that in an increasingly interdependent world, they can hardly be effectively addressed by single states. National borders have become more permeable; at the same time, there is confusing wealth of sub-state or non-state actors who need to be included when dealing with the problems mentioned above.
However, the necessary cooperation on a global level is often hindered by short-sighted national interests and an occasionally ill-advised market logic. At the same time, the United Nations as well as the network of international institutions seem no longer capable of dealing with these complex tasks, not least because single states and actors claim a right to put themselves above international rules and agreements. Considering this, exactly how does global politics work today? And what might effective approaches to combating global problems look like? These questions, and others, are what we concern ourselves with in the event category “Global interrelations.”
Hardly any other political project has been as widely observed and frequently admired as the unification of Europe. However, there is little palpable enthusiasm among Europeans themselves. Sometimes the problems seem overpowering and ideas about which direction the European Union (EU) should take in the future are widely diverging. It is, however, clear that the EU has an ever-increasing influence on life in the member states and that an ever-increasing number of rules and regulations relevant to citizens of Europe are decided on in Brussels or Strasbourg.
It is therefore all the more problematic that many Europeans do not view their perspectives, wishes, needs and problems as playing a role in European politics. To many people, the EU and its institutions seem very far away and the opportunities for participation in political decisions do not appear tangible. Therefore it comes as no surprise that young people in particular take the advantages of the European unification – such as the Euro and open borders – for granted but tend to turn away when invited to consider issues relating to the EU’s future or the functioning of EU institutions.
Given this background, the following questions arise when dealing with the subject of Europe: How can the idea of Europe and the European Union be conveyed in a way that appeals to people and motivates them to participate? How can citizens and their criticisms, wishes and ideas be included in the shaping of Europe, and how should Europe answer to the many existing internal and external challenges?
How can the regular outcry against the construction of mosques be explained? How can rights of minorities be effectively protected? Can and should the gentrification of a hip neighbourhood be stopped? How can the turnaround in energy policy be implemented without offending and alienating the citizens who are affected by it? How can young people be more closely involved in political decision-making processes? How does one organise an election campaign?
The questions addressed in the area of Democracy and Society are as colourful and varied as society itself – however, they all have one thing in common: they all affect how people live together on a local, regional or national level. We would like to sensitize our participants to the multiple layers of conflicts in society and subsequently discuss possible solutions.
Of around 60 million people worldwide who are currently fleeing war, persecution, hunger or environmental damage, only few manage to complete their arduous journey in Europe or Germany. Yet still, 2015 alone saw one million refugees arrive in Germany. It has been a long time since one single topic was as dominant in social debates and posed so serious a challenge to politics, administration and the host communities as a whole.
While the question of what an effective and fair system for refugee distribution might look like has caused deep rifts between the EU’s member states, the debate in Germany is mostly centered on one question: is it possible to take in this many refugees and integrate them? Hugely differing attitudes ranging from a great willingness to help to complete rejection permeate every aspect of the topic and are reflected in political opinions.
For years, we at planpolitik have been exploring all the different aspects to this complex topic. Under „Flight and integration“ we present all the event formats and focal points we have developed over the years. With our work, we hope to contribute to creating an understanding and finding ways to master the challenges.
Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine: the current list of (mostly armed) conflicts is long and could easily be continued. The international community’s difficulties to find sensible answers are increasing, not least because often the crucial actors do not see eye to eye. Attempts at mediation and conflict settlement fail while the killing, injuring and displacement of people continue. Meanwhile, the classic model of conflicts between two or more states is becoming rarer. Instead, complex domestic conflicts are currently dominating the international agenda. Simultaneously, the debates about the causes of these conflicts are becoming more and more complicated, with the focus increasingly being placed on the conflict-causing consequences of global problems such as poverty, climate change and migration. The global economy and its insatiable hunger for resources play a role, too.
Our events on the topic of peace and conflict aim at an understanding of the driving forces and mechanisms behind domestic and inter-state conflicts. Moreover, we investigate options for the prevention and settlement of conflicts. We offer an entry point into the search for possible solutions, and we facilitate scrutiny of relevant theories and concepts of peace and conflict research.
Politics changing the regulations of the economy has a direct impact on people’s everyday lives, whether those changes concern finding the right balance between taxes and state expenditure, spending billions to save banks or on debt relief, new rules for the global economy, or trade barriers and subsidies. But despite the immense significance of such issues, only a few of us truly understand economic processes and the role of the state therein. Using our tried and tested interactive methods, we shed some light on these processes.
We specifically focus on the topic of energy, especially the „energy turnaround“, i.e. the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. In light of climate change and the end of the oil age, this project is of vital significance. Our simulation games and other interactive methods shed light on the political debates and conflicts of interest in this realm, explaining processes and interrelations and conveying facts about the energy turnaround and the energy industry.
The skills at the heart of this area are often referred to as soft skills – this is about learning and training key competences that are important in working life as well as private life. They include communication and negotiation skills, i.e. develop arguments, convincingly defend them, prevail against resistance or adapt one’s arguments to the reaction of other conversation partners. The art of successful and fact-based negotiation also belongs in this area.
Equally important is the capacity for empathy, i.e. the ability to imagine oneself in different scientific, political, cultural and everyday-life positions and thus put into perspective and adapt one’s own position. Another central skill is a strong ability to make decisions and act upon them, i.e. making decisions in crisis situations characterised by great uncertainty and strong emotional pressure as well as time pressure. Furthermore, most employees today are expected to be able to work effectively within a team. We offer participants the opportunity to train these and other skills in a sheltered environment.
The topical spectrum of our work is as widely varied as the society we live in. Therefore, not all topics fit the areas described above. Some topics have a kind of special status, even if they are no way “particular” or purporting to be. Thus, this category represents all the topics that are important to us, even if they do not fit into any of the other five groups.