Our goal is to bring together policy-makers (including administrators), business leaders and organized civil society to jointly develop strategies for a sustainable and just society. In this way, politics moves from reactive crisis management to actively shaping a democratic and solidary future.

Making democracy tangible.

Democracy is in a credibility crisis. Trust in democratic structures is at an all-time low, and right-wing extremist parties and structures are gaining ground. For most citizens, democracy is an abstract concept that plays no role in their everyday lives. Many no longer believe in their own political efficacy. This must change. We believe that democracy can come alive and be tangibly experienced when members of a democratic society come to the table to jointly develop strategies for dealing with crises and challenges. For this to happen, it is important that those actors meet on an equal level, so that the new strategies incorporate various perspectives and thus have a higher probability of being accepted and implemented. We make this possible through brokering constructive, power-sensitive dialogue – although with a willingness to expand the comfort zone of discussion. This requires a willingness on the part of all participants to compromise – increasingly rare in a polarized society. For us, working on the topic of democracy always means working on relationships, because that's the only way to build trust and enable a change of perspective.


Political decisions need a broader basis than before if they are to find sustainable solutions in changing societies and under global capitalism. Elected politicians must join with organized civil society and the business sector to evaluate decisions and positions. This must happen at all levels, from the local to the global.

Prof. Dr. Gesine Schwan

Complex challenges require more participation.

However, trust in democratic processes is also based on what is known as "output" legitimacy, i.e. on what can be perceived as concrete changes in the end. This is often accompanied by the accusation that politicians are too far removed from the concerns and needs of individual citizens to be able to make good policies. We believe that politicians alone can neither grasp nor need to shape the complex reality as a whole, and therefore rely on the direct inclusion of all relevant perspectives in the political decision-making process, with the help of various participation formats. Unlike lobbying, our idea of inclusion is about the joint development and direct negotiation of the different perspectives with each other, as this is the only way to have the necessary creativity and expertise in the room to find sustainable and effective solutions to the issues of our time.

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