Once again, you have the opportunity to take part in a planpolitik workshop. Following the Corona-related break in 2020, the EuropaCamp of the Zeit-Stiftung is back, having started on 23 April 2021. Under the banner “Act together!”, it is opening its digital doors – and we are participating for the third time. In a total of 13 workshops, we will delve into explosive European policy issues with our participants – from dealing with the climate crisis to jointly overcoming the Corona pandemic to the role of human rights in European trade agreements.
In addition to our core discipline, the simulation game, our latest interactive method, the “Citizens’ Think Tank”, is also on the programme for the first time. A diverse cross-section of society, from schoolchildren to experts, will develop European policy theses and policy recommendations. As always, Europe is not a project for the elite, but belongs to all of us. Time to get involved! More information
It is May 2021, and we are happy to make this announce: One of our absolute classics, the first ever simulation game by planpolitik, is now available digitally on our simulation game platform Senaryon.
Over the years, the title of the simulation game has changed frequently, but internally it is simply called “Globalisation”. This is a simulation of different international lines of negotiation (including peace and security policy, climate policy, human rights, sustainable development goals), which we have combined in one simulation game. Even though the game is now more than 15 years old, we still facilitate it several times a year. Of course, we keep updating the content, adding new topics and changing the focus – but the basic framework remains the same.
Even before the pandemic, we had started to integrate digital features into the game and use them at face-to-face events. As of now, the game is fully available online and can be conducted on Senaryon. This was no small feat: the game is designed for two days and for up to 60 participants. The materials that had to be translated into digital form are equally extensive. In addition, the overall concept of the event had to be rethought and implemented. Simply copying the on-site event into digital form would not have done justice to the possibilities of online events: Digital voting, joint work on the resolution text, an internal chat and many other new features raise the classic negotiation experience to a new level.
Even if (hopefully) face-to-face events will soon be possible again, we will continue to use the digital possibilities with this classic of ours – as a paperless version of the simulation game or with selected new functions now available to make the simulation game “Globalisation” (even) more contemporary and exciting.
It all started with the video simulation game “The Usual Suspects”, which deals with questions of justice and everyday racism in a school environment. Our simple idea here: the scenario, role profiles and work instructions are conveyed via short video clips, and text reading is almost completely dispensed with. This makes the onboarding process easier especially with young target groups, who for whatever reason find reading difficult.
Each time we facilitated the simulation we were pleased to observe that the participants placed a lot of value on solving the simulated conflict in a spirit of solidarity. It soon became clear to us that a workshop was needed in which the video simulation game was embedded in a deeper discussion of the topics of discrimination and solidarity. This is how the interactive online workshop “Strong together – solidarity in a plural society” came into being at the beginning of 2020. Here, too, we take a low-threshold approach to the topic.
The heart of the workshop is the simulation “The Usual Suspects” – and it’s a hit every time! Afterwards, the participants explore the topic of discrimination in a positioning game. In doing so, they look at short scenes in comic style and discuss in small groups whether they recognise discriminatory acts and how they could confront them in solidarity, if necessary. In the extended version of the workshop, a quiz suitable for the target group teaches the participants what is legally understood by discrimination in Germany and offers an entertaining insight into the General Equal Treatment Act.
In the last 10 weeks alone, we have conducted the workshop ten times – with pupils as well as youngsters who are in the middle of spending a gap year volunteering in social work. Especially nowadays, it is good to see how important solidarity is to most young people as the basis of our pluralistic society!
In the first quarter of 2021, planpolitik hit a new landmark: with the inclusion of Lena Nahrwold, Charlotte Drath and Max Schmidtke, the permanent team has grown to more than 20 people for the first time. While Lena and Max will support the areas of software development and Europe as student assistants, Charlotte has joined us as a consultant in the area of democracy and society. Welcome – we are very happy that you are here!
planpolitik wouldn’t be planpolitik if there weren’t more personnel shifts: at the beginning of April, Charlotte Wiesenthal went on maternity leave, and a week later we were finally able to welcome Annegret Menden back from parental leave. On the same day, Allan Anderson again said goodbye for the time being to start his parental leave and get to know his second son – congratulations!
There are also changes in the team of freelancers. In the last few weeks alone, 9 people with a wide range of expertise have joined to strengthen our team. By now a team of 23, our experienced trainers mainly facilitate events – of which there are a lot – especially in the area of Europe, as May is Europe month! We have no fewer than 28 events in our calendar. One thing is already certain: at the end of this monster of a month, the champagne corks will once again be popping at planpolitik (in a Zoom meeting, of course!).
This year, we are once again hosting the virtual think tank #EngagEURCouncil of the Institute for European Politics e. V. (IEP) on our online simulation game platform Senaryon. The entire project runs under the title #EngagEUrCouncil: Youth Participation and Encounter and is funded by the Mercator Foundation.
In the coming weeks, 24 young people from Germany, Slovenia and Portugal will use our software to work on current and future challenges facing the EU and to articulate their wishes for European policy. This online workshop is the conclusion of a one-and-a-half year youth participation process that accompanied the EU Presidency held consecutively by these countries.
Two think tanks have already worked on topics such as social and foreign policy. On the occasion of the upcoming Slovenian Council Presidency, the participants will now split into four working groups to deal with the topics of climate policy, health policy, digitalisation, and EU enlargement. At Senaryon, the young experts will first receive comprehensive background information. Then, step by step, a young people’s agenda for Europe will be developed. We are very happy to provide the technical infrastructure for this process and are expecting a fruitful and exciting conference!
For us, this round marks the end of a great pilot project. We are looking forward to further projects where Senaryon is not only used for simulation games, but also as a platform for collaborative work and idea development.
When the participants dialled into two parallel online workshops on 23 February 2021 (1 p.m. Berlin time), a superlative was once again achieved at planpolitik. Never before have we had a group of participants covering so many time zones as on this day. While it was already 8 p.m. in Tokyo, Japan, the participant in Santiago de Chile was still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes – her watch was set to 7 a.m. Between these two locations, young people in eight other countries joined in.
What all the young people had in common is that they are students at German schools abroad that are organised within the PASCH initiative. They also took part in the competition “Tolerance and Responsibility”, at the end of which a theme week full of workshops was held – including our simulation game “The end of tolerance – dealing with right-wing populist voices” spread over two days. On day 3 the workshop ended in an argumentation training against right-wing slogans. As the pre-registrations for the workshop exceeded all expectations and almost 50 people registered, we simply doubled our setup and held the workshop twice in parallel.
Over the course of the three days, the students discussed the extent to which right-wing populists should be allowed a place in the democratic space and how one can deal with inhuman statements in one’s own environment. What was particularly impressive was how eloquently the participants argued and moderated as if speaking their mother tongue – after all, quite a few of the students had learned German as a second language and had never been to Germany before in their lives!
Fact or fake? It’s not just millions of Europeans who ask themselves this question when scrolling through their Facebook, Insta or Twitter feeds. Brussels is also trying to address the dangers of fake news and hate speech. The key question is what obligations social media platforms have in dealing with deliberately false and discriminatory content. To ensure that this is not just the concern of a few politicians, the Representation of the European Commission in Germany has launched the project “Fact or Fake” – and we are part of it! In a total of 54 workshops, more than 1,000 students will take on the role of EU parliamentarians and discuss the role of platform operators in the fight against hate speech and fake news. Depending on the pandemic situation, they will use our digital simulation platform Senaryon or meet face-to-face to exchange arguments. As in reality, the outcome of the debate is unclear. But one thing is certain: 2021 will be an exciting year for Europe’s digital future – and thanks to the “Fact or Fake” project, that will certainly apply to us and our participants as well.
Most people who consciously experienced the years of German reunification around the fall of the Berlin Wall can well remember the Treuhandanstalt and its importance in the transformation process from the beginning of the 1990s. In the years following German reunification, the federally owned institution had downsized, privatised or shut down thousands of formerly GDR-owned enterprises, often accompanied by large protests against mass layoffs and liquidation processes that were perceived as non-transparent. Even at that time the Treuhand was hailed by some as being without alternative, as constituting a Herculean task of economic policy, while others demonised it as a brutal neoliberal experiment at the expense of the East German population.
Thirty years on the term “Treuhandanstalt” means next to nothing to many young people in Germany. This is to change with our project on the Treuhand complex. Funded by the Stiftung zur Aufarbeitung der DDR-Diktatur (Foundation for the Reappraisal of the GDR Dictatorship), we are developing an interactive educational workshop over the course of the year in which young participants aged 15 and over will delve into the social, economic and political effects of the Treuhand’s work from different perspectives. The highlight of the workshop will be a simulation game addressing the question of the extent to which the Treuhand’s work should be systematically reappraised thirty years later. The workshop materials will be made available free of charge on the project’s own website from the 4th quarter of 2021. We are very much looking forward to this exciting, challenging task and will keep you informed of the project’s progress.
In recent weeks and months, our Senaryon team has been contacted with a wide variety of enquiries and project ideas. Not least due to the pandemic, the range of utilisation models and project designs has expanded significantly – which makes us very happy!
Time and again we receive expressions of interest in our simulation game platform from abroad, most recently from the Goethe Institute Istanbul and a young NGO from Lithuania. Since in both cases we are addressing local school kids, the simulation games are made available in the respective national language. A good opportunity to delve into the subject of Senaryon’s multilingualism: so-called ‘locales’ are used in the programming code to determine the language in which the user interface is displayed. They determine, for example, the language in which controls appear in a game – and the direction in which text is written. Senaryon currently has locales for German, English, Arabic, Turkish and soon Lithuanian. The effort to add new locales is manageable. In addition, simulation game content can be entered in any language.
Technically, implementing digital simulation games via Senaryon in a new language or even in several languages within a project is much less complicated than you might expect. Therefore, don’t be afraid to think about multinational projects using Senaryon! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time (email: boehmler[at]planpolitik.de).
The extended planpolitik family has been on a clear growth path for a few months now: Annegret Menden became a mother for the second time in October 2020, Konstantin Kaiser held his firstborn in his arms for the first time a few weeks later. We said goodbye to Lina Plank in mid-January for maternity leave and subsequent parental leave, and soon Charlotte Wiesenthal will follow her. Then in May, our programmer Allan Anderson will take two months of parental leave for his second child. We are happy for each and every one of you and wish you all the best.
At the same time, all the new blood keeps the personnel merry-go-round going at planpolitik. Readers may recall that after 12 years of creative collaboration we said goodbye to Konstantin Kaiser at the end of October. All the best, old friend! In the meantime, Helen Böhmler and Lars Harzem have taken his place internally to continue to keep their finger on the pulse of the times with the Senaryon simulation platform. Fortunately, we were able to recruit our long-time freelancer Katja Sinko as a parental leave replacement for our European department to ensure that continuity and quality will be maintained there, especially when Annegret returns in April. Allan, however, is irreplaceable and so we have timed the digital projects so that we can get through the two months without a replacement. Last but not least, we are happy to welcome Lena Nahrwold who joined our digital team at the end of February!