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The Fellows Woo-ik Yu, Julianne Smith, Zenda Ofir, Sławomir Sierakowski and Brian Currin with the third mayor of the City of Cologne, Andreas Wolter, as well as Jannik Rust and Laura Strömpel from the Robert Bosch Academy 

Academy on Tour: Richard von Weizsäcker Fellows get to know the Rhineland and its cities

In an effort to discover Germany’s diversity and its regional peculiarities, six current Richard von Weizsäcker Fellows went on an Academy on Tour through the Rhineland from January 21 - 23. In discussions with representatives from politics, academia, culture, media, business and civil society, the fellows received new perspectives and insights on socio-political challenges in Germany – even beyond their work stays at the Berlin Representative Office of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

The fellows began their tour in Cologne. In conversation with Andreas Wolter, third mayor of the City of Cologne, they discussed the historically grown importance and diversity of the famous metropolis. In the subsequent visit of the Festival Committee of Cologne Carnival, the fellows gained new impressions of the Rhineland culture and its so-called "fifth season". In the afternoon, the fellows debated issues of domestic and security policy with Dr. Ing. Stefan Kestler and Frank Jülich from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In addition to the legal basis, the tasks and the control of the Office were the subject of discussion. At the end of the day, the Richard von Weizsäcker Fellows met children, co-workers and the managing director of the youth club "Grembox", Sebastian Koerber. His years of work with children and adolescents of various cultural backgrounds allowed a lively exchange on successful integration and inclusion in the Rhineland.

After visiting the exhibition “Our History - Germany since 1945” at the Haus der Geschichte Bonn, the fellows got to know the work of the Federal Agency for Civic Education on Tuesday. In conversation with Josephine Evens, Jasmin Khosravie, Miriam Vogel and Sabine Juliana Stockheim, they discussed the mission, guiding principles and activities of the Federal Agency. Subsequently, director Peter Limbourg received the fellows in the headquarter of the Deutsche Welle. In addition to discussions on current topics such as dealing with "fake news" and right-wing populist parties, the fellows received a historical overview of challenges of international broadcasting during the Bonn Republic and after the German reunification. At the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), director Hilmar Schneider introduced the fellows to the peculiarities of the German labor market in comparison to other European countries. Senior Research Associate Dr. Terry Gregory moderated a following discussion and presented recent research dealing with the impact of digitization on the labor market. During a dinner with Jan Börner, Senior Researcher at the Center for Development Research, the fellows debated with him on German environmental and climate policy.

Before returning to Berlin, Todde Kemmerich, performance artist and activist, guided the Richard von Weizsäcker fellows through the Hambach Forest on Wednesday morning. In exchange with further local activists, the fellows learned more about the conflicting objectives of climate and economic policy. After gaining insights into a parliamentary debate during the subsequent tour of the North Rhine-Westphalian State Parliament, its President André Kuper welcomed the fellows to a discussion on diverse political issues.

The fellows Brian Currin, Firoze Manji, Sławomir Sierakowski, Julianne Smith, Zenda Ofir and Woo-ik Yu took part in the three-day trip.