News Overview 2014

The Bosch Fellows: 500 German Ambassadors in the United States

30 years and more than 500 alumni who have dedicated themselves to strengthening transatlantic relations: the 30th anniversary of the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program was celebrated in Washington, D.C.

The highlight of the festivities was a gala dinner with an official speech at the Corcoran Gallery of Art on Saturday evening, June 14, 2014. More than 250 alumni and invited guests were in attendance, including former ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, former ambassador Kurt Volker, Hans-Ulrich Klose, and Dr. Karen Donfried, president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States since April 2014. Dr. Kurt W. Liedtke, chairman of the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Board of Trustees, kicked off the evening, followed by a welcome speech by the German ambassador Dr. Philipp Ackermann, and a talk by Strobe Talbott, president of the renowned Brookings Institution think tank and former US deputy secretary of state. In his official speech, he shared his perspective on transatlantic relations with a focus on the current developments in Ukraine and the NSA scandal. Despite the current issues, he’s still optimistic about transatlantic relations: "Assuming that the US can restore German trust in the wake of the NSA revelations, our two countries are surely up to the task of meeting the challenges facing Europe, the transatlantic community, and globalization."

In her closing, Dr. Ingrid Hamm, chief executive officer of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, talked about the Foundation’s experiences in Eastern Europe and Russia: even in view of the current crisis in Ukraine, neither side should stop promoting dialog and mutual support.

The First Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution

In addition to the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program, a further Robert Bosch Stiftung project took center stage that evening: together, Dr. Kurt Liedtke and Strobe Talbott took the opportunity to publicly announce the first Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Starting this fall, Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller will inform US decision makers and the American general public of the current developments in Germany, equipped with a Robert Bosch Stiftung fellowship and supported locally by the Brookings Institution.

The weekend began with a reception at the residence of the German ambassador in Washington, D.C. In front of more than a hundred guests, ambassador Dr. Peter Wittig acknowledged the commitment of the Foundation and alumni to transatlantic relations. Group Worldwide Chairwoman of Johnson & Johnson Sandra Peterson, a participant in the first year of the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program, was then presented with the Alumna of the Year Award 2014 for her exceptional dedication. In her speech, Ms. Peterson emphasized the importance of the Fellowship Program for her career: "The time there and the time I spent in Germany after the fellowship catapulted me into the world of transatlantic policy, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to learn so much about Germany, to meet so many interesting people, and expand my networks and make the transition to public service. Whenever I look back at my career and think about milestones or turning points, I always come back to this year. […] In fact, when young people now come through my office to ask for career advice and how they might enter the field of national security and foreign policy, I think I sometimes surprise them with my recommendation to apply for the Bosch Fellowship."

The award was also presented to the award winner of last year, Julianne Smith, former deputy national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden and 1996/1997 participant. Julie Smith also acknowledged the major influence that the program had on her career and personal development.

The Current Challenges Facing Transatlantic Relations

That Saturday morning didn’t focus on the past, but rather the future of transatlantic relations. In work groups and then a plenary discussion hosted by the producer of the well-known TV shows ABC News and Good Morning America, Mary Pflum-Peterson (1998/1999 participant), the alumni discussed the current challenges facing transatlantic relations and potential solutions. Even though participant evaluations of the current state of transatlantic relations range from "critical" to "still very close," they all agree on one thing: in view of global power shifts, a close-knit transatlantic partnership will continue to play a key role in the future. In the wake of the NSA surveillance, the trust that has been lost therefore needs to be rebuilt across all political and social levels. Important measures include the initiatives that contribute to ensuring a better understanding of other countries, current issues, and mutual and differing moral concepts.

Every year since 1984, the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program has been bringing as many as 20 young American executives to Germany for up to a year. With a variety of specializations and careers, the fellows have the opportunity to get to know Germany and Europe by working in their specific career fields and participating in seminars on German and European policy and society lasting several weeks. In Germany in January 2014, the celebration marking the 30th anniversary of the program kicked off with a podium discussion titled "Liberty Versus Security? The Future of Common Values in Transatlantic Relations," which was followed by an entire weekend with program activities in Washington, D.C.

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