Strengthen Individuals – Move Organizations – Effect Social Change

We support social change and promote the commitment of individuals to the common good. We regard strengthening people as a driver of change. For us, every change starts with the individual – and many local changes can set broad social change in motion.

Our work focuses on the concept of good governance. We understand good governance as controlling social processes in a way that prioritizes the common good. This includes the responsible handling of power and resources as well as the constructive design of relations between government, market, and civil society players.

The values of transparency, participation, due process, and focus on the common good form the basis of our professional program, in which participants learn to strengthen their leadership and innovation skills. We are convinced that the viewpoints of various actors must be considered and diverging interests negotiated peacefully to develop sustainable solutions to social challenges. Transparency in all actions and in the disclosure of one’s own interests as well as the participation of all concerned in the deliberative decision-making process are important prerequisites for effective and responsible decision-making.

The Goerdeler Kolleg supports current and future leaders from all areas of society in incorporating the principles of good governance in their direct professional environment and volunteering activities. By acquiring knowledge and skills and developing robust networks, participants are better equipped to initiate sustainable change processes and shape social change effectively and in line with democratic principles.

Acquire new skills

In the seminars, the Kolleg participants are trained in good governance, transsectoral cooperation, and innovation management. In talks with experts, discussions, and interactive workshops, they deal with topics such as the fight against corruption, corporate social responsibility, and civic participation. An integral part of the program is the academic training on good governance, which the Goerdeler Kolleg conducts in cooperation with a German university. In several training modules, participants expand their skills in project management, leadership, and innovation.

Gain behind-the-scenes insight

Individual work shadowing and excursions give participants exclusive insights into government, business, and civil society organizations. Practical examples show them how effective and responsible cooperation can be designed across sectors. We attach particular importance to a transsectoral and international exchange of experience. Through individual shadowing, participants get to know the everyday work routines at German organizations, which gives them ideas for their own work and good governance projects. They will be supported by Prof. Günter Verheugen, former Vice-President of the European Commission, with whom they will frequently exchange ideas in a small-group setting.

Take effect

In the course of their year working with the Kolleg, participants develop and implement individual good governance projects. The innovative projects demonstrate in an exemplary manner how processes can be designed differently, namely in a more socially responsible, transparent, and participatory way. This is how participants actively contribute to putting the principles of good governance into practice. The Kolleg supports them in implementing their projects by providing in-depth training in project management, accompanying project coaching, and peer-to-peer counseling.

The one-year Kolleg program

The Kolleg program consists of five modules:

  1. Opening seminar: The one-year Kolleg program begins with the three-week opening seminar in Berlin and other locations. This in-depth event lays the foundation for the joint activities at the Kolleg.
  2. Project phase I: Following the opening seminar, all participants return to their home countries and begin to implement their individual good governance projects. They are supported by experienced project managers who are available to share advice.
  3. Mid-year seminar: The mid-year seminar takes place in March in a Central Eastern European member state of the EU. At the week-long event, participants evaluate the current status of their project and advise each other on how to overcome challenges. In addition, they deal in depth with one aspect of good governance and learn from the transformation experiences of their host country.
  4. Project phase II: Following the mid-year seminar, participants continue to implement their respective projects, which they are expected to complete by August.
  5. Concluding seminar: The year ends with a final gathering in a location near Berlin, where participants present their project results, jointly evaluate their year-long Kolleg experience, and connect with next year’s participants.

From idea to project

Candidates applying for the Kolleg program must have an idea for an innovative social responsibility project. Project ideas are further refined during the Kolleg seminars. We support participants’ projects by providing in-depth training in project management. Individual work shadowing at German organizations provide participants with practical ideas for their respective projects. Project funding is not provided.

Independent local implementation

Participants implement their local projects independently and conclude these by the end of the Kolleg year. They receive peer counseling and can avail themselves of accompanying project coaching. The highlight of the Kolleg program is the project fair at the concluding seminar, where participants present their project results.

A wide range of topics

Each year, the good governance projects at the Goerdeler Kolleg cover a wide range of topics. The diversity of the projects reflects the variety of challenges transformation societies may face – as well as the creativity and commitment of the next generation of leaders who are taking responsibility for tomorrow’s world.

The Goerdeler Kolleg focuses on providing scientifically sound and hands-on training in good governance. We impart not only knowledge but also skills, so that participants can apply what they learn to their work. The Kolleg’s work approach is characterized by a combination of various methods and practical experiences. Interactive workshops, exclusive talks with experts, peer counseling, excursions, and skills training: In all these offerings, we attach great importance to the transsectoral and international exchange of experience, peer-to-peer learning, and the transfer of knowledge to one’s own professional context.

As well as providing new knowledge, skills and contacts, the Kolleg curriculum also includes a reflection of one’s own role in society. We assist participants in taking a closer look at their values and offer an appreciative learning space in which new ideas can be tried and tested. This way, participants strengthen their skills as well as their attitudes as actors of organizational and social change.

The Goerdeler Kolleg is a program of the Robert Bosch Stiftung conducted in cooperation with the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).

The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) researches and advises on the current topics and trends of German foreign policy. As an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit expert and membership organization, the DGAP has been shaping the foreign policy debate in Germany for more than 60 years and contributes to the understanding of German politics abroad.

The Goerdeler Kolleg is part of the DGAP’s Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. The Robert Bosch Center regards itself as a central point of contact for matters relating to the relationships of both Germany and the European Union with the EU’s member states in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, the EU’s eastern neighbors, and states in Central Asia.

Prof. Günter Verheugen, former Vice-President of the European Commission, accompanies the participants as the Kolleg’s director.

The administrative lawyer Carl Friedrich Goerdeler was lord mayor of Leipzig from 1930 to1936, making him one of only a handful of municipal leaders who were not members of the Nazi Party. After his resignation, he worked for Bosch as a liaison to the city government in Berlin. It was this position that permitted him to play an active role in the resistance against the Nazi regime. As the cofounder of the civilian underground opposition against the Nazi regime, Goerdeler formulated new constitutional plans and blueprints for a European Union. After the failed assassination attempt of July 20, 1944, Goerdeler, who was designated to become the new Chancellor, was executed as a "traitor" and "war spy" in Berlin on February 2, 1945.