Our European department is facing some fundamental changes. Our European star Annegret Menden – still known to many as Ms Schneider – took maternity leave at the end of March and is not scheduled to return until the end of the year. We wish Annegret a happy time, far from OLPs and Brexit, but with European values such as tolerance, peace and solidarity in her heart.
To ensure that our European projects can be successfully continued in Annegret’s absence, Charlotte Wiesenthal will join the European team from mid-April. Charlotte has been working for us as a freelancer since the beginning of 2016 and, as a committed young European, is well qualified to represent the European cause for us at home and abroad. In the coming months, event planning and support as well as simulation game concepts will be the main focus of Charlotte’s work. Welcome to the team!
One of the most entertaining projects of the last year was certainly the development of a fake news app for the Centre for Civic Education of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (LpB NRW). We don’t often get the opportunity to create a whole universe of fake news and alleged conspiracies, complete with trolls, naive followers, prudent scientists and manipulative fanatics. The aim of the Serious Game project was to help young players detect and evaluate fake news. For this purpose, players enter this messenger adventure in the role of an intern in an online editorial office, experiencing a web of real and false facts, conspiracy theories and weird sockpuppets! They’ll need a good nose to help them tell what’s what! The game lasts approx. 30-45 minutes and is accompanied by a detailed integrated glossary. It is available for free on the LpB NRW website (in German).
Growth is often expressed in figures. Having increased the number of square meters of planpolitik office space in December, the next step was a long overdue expansion of our telephone network and into cloud telephony. Following an eventful but ultimately successful interaction with Deutsche Telekom, here’s how it looks:
Directors (+4930) 600 34643
Accounting and Office Management (+4930) 600 34644
Fax (+4930) 6003 4645
Europe (+4930) 6823 5110
Democracy and Society and Flight & Integration (+4930) 6823 5112
Global Interrelations and Economy & Energy (+4903) 6823 5113
Digital projects (+4930) 6823 5114
We are looking forward to your calls so we can create something new together. Because of course the headline should really read: Call me anytime!
The final in-house class of our module “Bargaining in Global Politics” as part of the Online Master in International Relations Online (IRO) at the FU Berlin came to an end at the end of February, a moment that simultaneously felt unspectacular and full of melancholy. It was where we – Björn and Simon – met in the autumn of 1995 and began teaching together in 2001, since 2004 as lecturers in the East European Studies Online and International Relations Online programmes at the Center for Global Politics (CGP). The in-house-classes, featuring students from all over the world engaging in very lively discussions, were a real highlight every semester. The programme is now expiring, due to the upcoming retirement of the head of the CGP, Prof. Dr. Klaus Segbers, in 2019. We very much hope that this exciting and meaningful master programme will continue in one form or another. Another nostalgic fun fact: 25 years on, Dahlem looks exactly the same and the kiosk in front of the OSI (Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science) is still run by the same owner.
The threat of terrorism, Brexit, constant displays of disunity – the worrying headlines about the European Union just keep coming. A call for change is clearly audible. And even young people often have an opinion about what is going wrong in today’s EU. But what exactly should change in the EU to make things better?
Over the past two months, we have asked precisely this question of around 350 pupils in grades 9 to 13 from Hohenschönhausen in the north-east of Berlin to Grunewald in the south-west. A series of workshops initiated and financed by our long-standing partner, the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe, took place at 11 Berlin schools. Through direct experience, the participants gained insight into further steps that could be taken in European integration. Getting involved in a simulation game, an EU self-test and an ideas workshop, the participants gradually narrowed down problems, their own ideas and possible solutions and were finally able to describe their vision of Europe in 2025. They were asked to determine the future coexistence within the Union: Should the EU resemble a flat share, a terraced house, a single-family house or individual housing units? Notably, extreme approaches were very rarely chosen – rather, the flat share, the terraced house or flats-in terraced-houses model resonated the most with the youth of Berlin.
About a year ago we published our first simulation game catalogue. The sheer number of simulation games and the variety of topics came as a pleasant surprise even to us, who work with them every day. Now it was time for a catalogue update. Again, we are amazed at what has been added in the last 12 months: our new simulation games deal with modern energy networks and international development cooperation, the question of freedom vs. security and migration policy, collective bargaining in a global company and work-life balance, as well as fake news and right-wing populism. Add a pinch of local integration work and human rights-oriented asylum policy here as well as a game on the return of wolves to Germany’s forests there – and you have planpolitik’s simulation game catalogue update 2018. So, call us anytime!
What happens if you’re a bird conservationist who, wandering around a nature reserve, meets a poacher who in extreme cases even threatens you with his rifle? Classic approaches of interest-based conflict management have only limited effect in such a situation. Accordingly, our two-day training in conflict management and negotiation for conservationists from the entire Balkans region on behalf of the Euronatur Foundation was not a training course that stuck to the plan. On the contrary, there was a lot of improvisation, short-term program changes and very exciting discussions about the meaning of interest-based negotiation in a society plagued by corruption.
Of course, we’d brought a new simulation game. It deals with different plans for a fictitious wetland: environmentalists, tourism industry representatives, fishermen and hunters, residents and politicians gather to find a solution everyone can live with. Aside from the fun, the game offered an opportunity to intensively train preparing and conducting multilateral negotiations. The highlight of this altogether extraordinary trip to Bosnia was a visit to the nearby Hutovo Blato nature reserve: as soon as our convoy came to a halt, 30 bird experts jumped out of their vehicles and started to scan the landscape with binoculars – an unforgettable picture.
As 2017 became 2018, we had to say goodbye to our student assistant Yana Bergmann. After graduating in law, she followed the call of the big wide world. Our latest information tells us she currently resides somewhere in Central America. Thank you very much for all the great work – and your unique laugh, which will long resonate in our little office. The goodbye was sweetened by the fact that in early January, William Dissoubray joined the planpolitik team. He is now responsible for bookkeeping, office management and the preparatory organisation of our events. With his passion for numbers and structures, he has quickly become indispensable. Welcome to the team!
There’s another name we’ve lost only to gain a new one: as of last week, Annegret Schneider is called Annegret Menden. Congratulations!
“What does your Europe look like?” At the beginning of February, several hundred people addressed this question in Hamburg. The programme at the Zeit Foundation’s Europa Camp was extremely varied and ranged from theatre performances to panel discussions (feat. the likes of Cem Özdemir, Ulrike Guérot and Jan Böhmermann). But apart from listening to famous panelists debate, conference participants had the opportunity to discuss and develop ideas and visions of their own: in five interactive planpolitik workshops, they discussed issues such as populism, European citizens’ rights in the face of terrorist threats, or how to boost solidarity and bridge the gap between poor and rich EU states. We addressed those topics in short simulation games, digital surveys via ConferenceApp, positioning games, ideas labs and so on. Our conclusion: what an exciting, innovative conference! If we hadn’t moderated, we would have liked to have taken part ourselves….
At the end of January, our first newly developed simulation game of 2018 premiered in Switzerland with great success. As part of the first meeting of the international ‘Young Policy Network on Migration’, young migration experts from all over the world played “People on the Move”. The simulation brings together various phenomena of global migration movements in a fictional setting. Development was not an easy task, as we wanted to include refugees and other migrants, different immigration systems and the specifics of different countries of origin, transit and destination. The result is an action-oriented simulation game played over several rounds. The round structure lends itself to tracking the impact that actions and political decisions of participating governments have on the course of the game and on migration. One insight that made many participants stop and think was that when acting as governments, they treated migrants like a commodity in bargaining for trade advantages or other political concessions. It was not only in this aspect that the game was surprisingly close to the real-life discussions on the political treatment of migrants worldwide.