And on it goes: the next planpolitik generation is about to gain a new member. Helen Böhmler’s maternity leave starts in mid-September to allow her to prepare for the birth of her first child. Of course Helen is virtually irreplaceable – but we have found the ideal solution for Europe: Our colleague Alex Kuschel, a certified expert on Europe, will move positions and as part of our “Team EU” dedicate himself to his pet topic from October. Nice for Europe – and a pity for the “Democracy and society” department, where Alex has worked so far. But even there, for the time being, everything will be fine, as Karina Frank – full of energy after her well-deserved holiday – will start her autumn with an increased number of work hours. Where Helen will carry on after her return in spring 2020 will become apparent nearer the time.
Last year, our cabinet table was within sight of the original. Right in front of the Federal Chancellery stood a transparent tent containing a replica of the original cabinet table. This year, the Bürger*innenfest (Citizens’ Fete) for the anniversary of the German reunification will take place in Kiel. So, this time the table will be set up directly on the shore of Kiel Fjord. There will be ten rounds of simulation games, each for up to 80 participants aged 15 and above. The focus this year is on the 70th anniversary of the Federal Republic of Germany’s constitution (Grundgesetz), with three out of four simulation games dealing with possible amendments to the constitution. For the first time, these simulation games will be supplemented by online elements, with participants using their smartphones. And let’s see which surprise guests drop by this time – last year we had exciting discussions with the ministers Franziska Giffey and Hubertus Heil. Registration is free of charge at this page.
Asia – here we go!
Events all over Asia have lined up in recent weeks like a pearl necklace. Fittingly, the series kicked off directly on the Pearl River: In Guangzhou, southern China, the simulation game “Bringing peace to Fontania” took place at the end of July as part of the Global Politics Seasonal School of the Center for Global Politics of the FU Berlin. In the simulation, the participants recreate the first months of the Syrian conflict using a fictitious scenario and place particular focus on the role and influence of international actors.
Almost simultaneously, three colleagues met with representatives of the German-Turkish Youth Bridge and our Turkish partner organisations in Izmir. Over two intensive days the final edition of our project “Global Playgrounds” was conceived, which for six days in October will bring together 20 young German and Turkish multipliers from the field of refugee work.
In mid-August, two colleagues each boarded planes to Uzbekistan and Indonesia respectively on behalf of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. At the Academy for State Building in Tashkent, 40 lecturers from various Uzbek universities took part in a methods training. Our colleagues were able to see that the political opening and reform process, which last year could only be perceived as a gentle breeze, has now noticeably picked up speed. At the same time in Indonesia, two simulation games that we developed for the local branch of the Ebert Foundation enjoyed their world premiere: a total of over 100 participants from ministries, universities and NGOs learned multilateral negotiations within the framework of a fictitious ASEAN, negotiating UN sustainability goals and better protection against climate-related natural disasters. We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and motivation of the participants as well as the hospitality we experienced. Terima Kasih!
Our Asian summer ended with the Global Politics Seasonal School in Amman – as in China, perfectly organized by program manager Lydia Tetzner (Thanks for everything ♥). Once again, the simulation game “Bringing Peace to Fontania” was on the agenda – and in a country that is more directly affected by the war in Syria than many others, it triggered a lively discussion about the possibilities, limits and interests of international actors in an originally domestic conflict.
Engage with Europe has passed its halfway point – for six months now, the interactive workshop on the future of the EU has been taking our Europe Department to schools in all corners of the country on behalf of the Representation of the European Commission in Germany.
The programme is aimed at groups of 15 to 30 participants from grade 10 upwards, and half of the 48 events (three in each federal state) have already been allocated. Teachers can request further dates on the project website.
Through a variety of interactive modules addressing four main topics to choose from (Asylum & Migration, Digital Future, Peace & Security, Economy & Climate), the workshop explores fundamental aspects and dynamics of current and future European politics. First results from the workshops already held can be viewed on the project website via an interactive map of Germany: How do young people in the classrooms view the future of Europe? Do they want more or less of the EU? How would they decide if they could vote on their country’s membership of the EU?
We are looking forward to part 2 of the workshop series. If you are interested in an event, please contact us!
Since Karina Frank and Tim Bader have joined us, the team of permanent planpolitik staffers now comprises 16 people. While Karina is now team member in the field of “Democracy and Society”, Tim is getting stuck into “Global Interrelationships” and “Economy and Energy”. Both started with us as freelancers and quickly convinced us – both professionally and as people. Welcome to the team. It’s great to have you on board!
As the team grows, so does the need for office space. While in 2017 we had to search for a very long time for further office space in the Reuterkiez district of Neukölln, this time things went very smoothly. We were able to open our third office on Friedelstraße directly opposite our original in February. Our efforts to one day turn Friedelstraße into planpolitikstraße are continuing apace.
What do the regions have to do with Europe and what visions for the EU of the future can be discovered there? Since 2018, this question has been investigated by the Regional Parliaments Lab (REGIOPARL) research project headed by Prof. Ulrike Guérot at Donau-Universität Krems in Austria. planpolitik was present in the Lower Austrian parliament of St. Pölten when the first so-called intervention of the project took place. This event format is intended as a field study and will be carried out in a total of 15 regional parliaments in seven EU member states. It will bring together members of each regional parliament beyond everyday parliamentary routine. They meet to open-endedly discuss the distribution of competences (defence policy at European level, agricultural policy at regional level, etc.), the institutional architecture and a possible territorial reorganisation of Europe using different concepts of “region”. The aim is to find out what a democratic Europe for all can look like.
We had developed the discussion format in advance and accompanied the politicians present as they followed the day’s mission to rethink democracy. In small working groups, innovative visions of the future were developed next to feasible ideas. Over the course of the next 14 interventions, the aim will continue to be to offer professional politicians the opportunity and space to leave everyday business behind for a day and discuss visionary ideas for Europe. We are curious!
April saw us facilitate two events on behalf of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. What the two events had in common was that they brought together groups of international young professionals. The newly founded International Adenauer Network celebrated its premiere in Berlin at the beginning of the month. This network connects young politicians from all over the world – and that actually means from Brazil to New Zealand, from Mongolia to Tanzania – for a regular exchange on current developments. With this crowd we moderated a scenario workshop discussing the issue of a new system competition. Will liberal democracies prevail as the predominant form of society? Are autocratic systems becoming more and more dominant? Or will the systems continue to coexist? The participants’ different horizons of experience produced three intensively discussed, potential paths of development. In the end, the experts formulated policy recommendations that shared one goal: to revert the trend towards autocratic rule and to strengthen and expand liberal structures.
The catchment area of the KAS MENA Leadership Academy, whom we met in Istanbul at the end of the month, is somewhat narrower. We conducted an intensive four-day training course on leadership, negotiation and lobbying with 20 participants from seven MENA countries – from Morocco to Lebanon. What constitutes good leadership? How do I use my BATNA? And what are successful strategies when interacting with politicians? In the course of the training, the concepts and theories we presented were repeatedly put to the test: How can these strategies be applied in countries where politics and society often lack transparency or even functioning parliaments? This discussion was very fruitful for us and clearly showed how far theory and practice sometimes diverge.
There was great passion for democracy and freedom in both Berlin and Istanbul, and the participants spoke enthusiastically of “Konrad’s” support (as in Konrad Adenauer). We share this enthusiasm because in both programmes the Adenauer Foundation has brought together great young people full of commitment.
December 2018 saw the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To mark this occasion, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has launched the project #freiundgleich. It looks at the unique significance of human rights from different angles and with different approaches – there are theatre workshops, a travelling exhibition, panel discussions and online publications. Our contribution to the EKD project are five short simulation games that deal with current issues: sea rescue in the Mediterranean, power relations in times of #MeToo, dealing with extreme right-wing opinions in voluntary work, the possibilities and limits of freedom of religion and corporate responsibility in the textile industry. All games question how our society deals with human rights in concrete situations. Are they really the same for all people? Or do economic or (power) political reasons repeatedly lead to the acceptance of restrictions on human rights?
All five games are designed for up to 20 participants and take about 120 minutes including introduction and evaluation. They are accompanied by a detailed manual explaining the game method and giving concrete suggestions for facilitating the games. After all, the idea is that interested multipliers facilitate the simulation games independently. All game materials will be included in the #freiundgleich project’s educational backpack and can be purchased via the project page from late summer. If you would like to try out the simulation games sooner than that, you can do so at the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag 2019 at the end of June in Dortmund, where for three days we will facilitate a selection of these simulation games.
In the end, it wasn’t quite enough for a win. But at least our simulation game “Union Laboratory” was one of eight finalists in the Altiero Spinelli Prize for Outreach at the end of April. By awarding this prize, the European Commission honours projects that improve the understanding of European politics. We were in very good company at the ceremony in Brussels. It was very inspiring to get an impression of the many great projects and initiatives that are working throughout Europe to make the European Union and the European idea more tangible. By the way: thanks to the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Heinz-Nixdorf-Stiftung, the Unions Laboratory can be played for free until the end of the year (in German). So, go ahead and relaunch the EU – all you need is five smartphones and internet access!
In the future, when the United Services Trade Union ver.di conducts the simulation game “All signs are pointing to a strike” with its negotiators, honorary members of collective bargaining committees and working members, negotiating and argumentation won’t be the only skills trained. The one-day simulation game aims above all to bring the participants closer to the process of collective bargaining, to highlight the need for assertiveness and to understand the importance of membership recruitment. In concrete terms, the participants are to be prepared for real collective bargaining in the health sector. This includes presenting oneself wisely to representatives of the press (the game facilitators). Finally, public support plays an important role in such negotiations.
The game will be handed over to our client ver.di shortly. In preparation to that, a
train-the-trainer workshop took place at the beginning of April, enabling union officials to facilitate the simulation independently.