- 2017 in Focus: A peaceful balance of interests, rule of law, and social cohesion
- 100,5 million euros spent on charitable causes
Berlin, January 18, 2018 – In many areas of the world, populist parties have gained influence and set a more abrasive tone in both politics and society – and Germany is no exception. These developments have been a cause for concern for the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH in the past year, in both its domestic and its international work.
“The number of countries where democratic principles, the rule of law, and a peaceful balance of interests can be taken for granted is shrinking, and these standards are now having to be defended even in regions where this had seemed unimaginable for a very long time. In many countries, civil society is coming under pressure, and its scope of action is becoming smaller,” says Prof. Dr. Joachim Rogall, President and CEO of the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH. “It is precisely for this reason that we have expanded our efforts in the areas of international relations and social cohesion.”
At the New Year’s reception of the Robert Bosch Stiftung in Berlin, the Board of Management gave a positive report on the Foundation’s work in 2017. In order to better respond to evolving challenges, the Foundation had already undergone a strategic reorientation beginning in 2016, and focused its work on three focus areas: “Integration, Migration and Inclusion,” “Social Cohesion in Germany and Europe,” and “Sustainable Living Spaces.” In the past year, the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH spent approximately 100,5 million euros (preliminary figure) on charitable causes.
For better understanding in transatlantic dialogs
With the launch of the “Brookings - Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative” (BBTI), the Robert Bosch Stiftung further expanded its cooperation with the American think tank The Brookings Institution, which began in 2014. Together, the two organizations are working to build resilient networks between the USA and Europe. Two Robert Bosch Senior Fellows, Constanze Stelzenmüller and Amanda Sloat, who are working on behalf of the Foundation at Brookings in Washington, are contributing to this effort. The mission of the two political scientists is to explain Europe to the USA and the USA to Europe – in interviews, articles, and discussion forums. Now, the BBTI plans to intensify this work further and publish regular independent analyses of current transatlantic topics. The initiative was already kicked off with three events in Washington and Berlin, as well as a study entitled “A Post American Europe and the Future of US Strategy.”
Also within the framework of the BBTI, Brookings scholars will now conduct research at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. This institution of the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, founded in 2014, offers work stays to renowned decision-makers and opinion leaders from around the world, giving them the opportunity to take part in social life and political dialog in Berlin and Germany. In the last year alone, 21 fellows from 14 countries accepted the Foundation’s invitation.
Working together for Europe’s future
In light of Brexit and the growing influence of nationalistic parties, social cohesion in Europe was an important focus area of the Foundation’s work. In order to better understand the mood of Europe’s population, last year the Robert Bosch Stiftung supported a study by the British think tank Chatham House. Researchers interviewed approximately 10,000 citizens and 1,800 decision-makers from ten European countries about their attitudes toward Europe. According to the study, many members of the public value Europe’s achievements, but do not feel that they benefit from the EU. Decision-makers, on the other hand, disagree about the direction of European integration.
The Foundation contributed to the constructive debate about Europe with the “think space” program Europe21. For the second time, the Leipzig Book Fair and the Robert Bosch Stiftung invited authors, scientists, publicists, and other intellectuals to discuss European identity, social tensions, and the erosion of debate culture. Further studies will follow in 2018.
Commitment to peace
Since 2014, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has been dealing extensively with the subject of peace. “The number and complexity of internal and international conflicts is increasing worldwide,” said Member of the Board of Management Sandra Breka. “In an era of changing global order, in which previous multilateral mechanisms of conflict resolution are no longer effective, support from non-governmental actors, context-specific solutions, and the transfer of good practices are becoming more important than ever.” In November 2017, at the Foundation’s invitation, over 120 peace advocates from approximately 40 countries came together in Berlin for the “Global Community Forum: Truth, Justice, Remembrance.” In their work, the participants are committed to exploring and addressing violent conflicts and regimes in order to facilitate transitions to lasting peace. Many of them are former program participants, fellows, or representatives from projects that the Foundation has sponsored in the past. The goal of the three-day-long forum is the development and interlinking of a global community of peace activists who advocate for truth, justice, and remembrance in their own countries.
Facilitating integration and inclusion
Since 2015, almost no other subject has moved people in Germany more than the admission of refugees. By now, the challenges have shifted from the emergency mode of initial provisions to the long-term task of integration. Therefore, in 2017, the Foundation focused its work in the focus area of “Migration, Integration, and Inclusion” on practical projects that demonstrate how new immigrants can participate and be included in areas of society such as education, community, and culture. Wherever possible, the refugees themselves have played an active and formative role in this process. For example, a supplement was created for the daily newspaper Tagesspiegel in which displaced journalists from Syria, Afghanistan, or Iran write about what democracy, voting, and self-determination mean to them. A joint survey with the research department of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration, presented in November, centers on the refugees’ perspective and derives recommendations for political action from that standpoint. In 2017, the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH was also able to expand on the project concept of an Islamic Affairs Consultancy for communities in Baden-Württemberg. The Foundation plans to extend the project to other federal states in 2018.
With a new funding program beginning in spring 2018, the Foundation will assist rural districts in further developing good concepts for the integration, inclusion, and social recognition of new immigrants in rural areas – since these are the key factors in determining whether integration is successful.
Strengthening social cohesion
The Robert Bosch Stiftung’s projects raise young people’s awareness of sociopolitical subjects and political participation beginning at an early age. A particularly successful example of this is the “Learning in Stadiums” project, which the Foundation initiated in 2009 and whose development it has supported for over nine years. The project takes advantage of young people’s enthusiasm for soccer and gives them the chance to deal with subjects such as violence, racism, homophobia, and discrimination. Since the project began, over 40,000 young people have participated in the programs, which have sprouted up in professional soccer-playing settings all over Germany. By now, the network of learning centers has evolved into an association, which will continue running the project together with the DFL Stiftung and the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
The Foundation also promoted the commitment to democracy, tolerance, and cohesion through the program “Campaigns for an Open Society.” The funding allowed approximately 60 small groups and associations to realize their own projects under the umbrella of the “Offene Gesellschaft” initiative. With intercultural sports festivals, theater performances, and talk cafés, they take a clear stand against exclusion and marginalization and in favor of more social cohesion in Germany.
For more good schools and better education
The Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH’s primary objective in the area of education is to provide fair starting conditions for young people, regardless of their origins or social status. To this end, the Foundation develops and supports projects that ensure and further improve the quality of the school and educational system. One of its flagship projects is the German School Award. The competition recognizes schools that do excellent work – regardless of their location, size, facilities, or the composition of their student body. The German School Academy utilizes this potential by making the collected experiences of the winning schools (currently numbering over 60) available to other schools and school authorities through practical training programs. In 2017, the Foundation launched two additional programs in connection with the German School Award: The new development program advises schools that have taken part in the competition but have not won an award. With the research program “How Does a Good School Work? – Research with Practical Relevance”, the Foundation supports concrete research projects that put the exemplary school practices of the winning schools to use for educational research and school administrators.
The Foundation also utilized its experience from the German School Award in the “School Turnaround” project. Together with the Berlin Senate Department for Education, Youth and Family Affairs, the Foundation supported ten schools in socially and economically deprived areas – which therefore faced particular challenges – over a period of four years. The ten schools succeeded in establishing the basis for sustainable school development work and were able to make improvements in relevant areas – for example, by reducing the number of cancelled classes and of unexcused absences on the part of the students. The experiences from the project are currently being evaluated and will subsequently be made available to school administrators and directors in other federal states.
Bridges between science and society
All over the world in the past year, scientists took to the streets to campaign for a fact-based discussion and confrontation of arguments. The question of how, in an era of so-called “alternative facts,” the scientific community can build and maintain trust is also one that concerns the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH. Through its projects, the Foundation builds a bridge between science and society, in order that both sides can better learn to listen and understand. One of its focal points is on good scientific journalism that generates understanding of complex interrelationships. In addition, in order to spark enthusiasm for science in a young audience, last year the Foundation launched the SILBERSALZ Science Film Festival. The first event will take place in Halle/Saale at the end of June 2018. “In the age of fake news and echo chambers, we are using new forms of communication to promote an open and fact-based dialog between science and less scientifically-minded citizens,” says Vice Chair of the Board of Management Uta-Micaela Dürig. “Our goal is to improve understanding about and trust in independent research.”
Healthcare for the future
In the coming years, the number of people with chronic or multiple illnesses will continue to increase. At the same time, fewer skilled healthcare professionals will be available, particularly in structurally underdeveloped regions. For this reason, since the spring of 2017, the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH has supported five initiatives throughout Germany in establishing exemplary local healthcare centers through the program “PORT – Patient-Oriented Centers for Primary and Long-Term Care.” The future PORT centers are intended to guarantee comprehensive primary healthcare for the population of a region and make it possible to provide better care for chronically ill people from a single source.
The nursing field also faces greater responsibilities in light of the acute shortage of skilled professionals. This is where the project “360° Nursing - Skills Mix for the Patient” comes in. On behalf of the Foundation, experts from a variety of healthcare sectors worked for two years to develop solutions and strategies for improving team cooperation and making the nursing profession more attractive through new career possibilities. The Foundation will publish the experts’ recommendations for action in the spring of 2018.
Other new developments at the Robert Bosch Stiftung
Since September 1, 2017, Sandra Breka (45) and Dr. Hans-Werner Cieslik (57) manage the operations of the Robert Bosch Stiftung along with Prof. Joachim Rogall (58) and Uta-Micaela Dürig (53). Sandra Breka previously headed the Foundation’s Berlin Representative Office and was active in various institutions in the field of international relations prior to joining the Foundation in 2001. Hans-Werner Cieslik worked for the Bosch group for 19 years before joining the Board of Management of the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH in 2009. Joachim Rogall has taken over as chairman of the four-person management team.
At the beginning of 2018, the Robert Bosch Stiftung also refined its look. The new corporate design was prompted by the further strategic development the Foundation has pursued in the last two years. Along with its focus on three substantive priorities, this process also gave rise to a culture in which openness, diversity, and trust play a greater role than ever.