Ongoing Projects

Talking to each other: Social Science Works again organizes citizens’ dialogues

In order to strengthen democracy, we need a new discussion culture. To this end, we are creating public spaces where citizens can meet regularly to discuss social issues over coffee and cake and get to know each other better. In 2024, we will organize Citizens’ Dialogues at three locations. That’s a total of around 40 meetings.

There are no longer enough platforms in our societies where citizens can meet to discuss social issues. As a result, democratic practice is limited: we have too few opportunities to exchange information and views and are therefore unable to develop informed preferences, which are essential for a democracy. We are learning less and less how to deal with complexity and opposing points of view.

Furthermore, a rift is opening up between knowledge holders and citizens. Academics, for example, hide in ivory towers and citizens in the bubbles of their Facebook and Instagram streams. In order to re-establish the connection between knowledge holders – representatives of companies, universities, research institutes, civil society, professional groups, the press, politics and administration – and citizens and to strengthen the competition for well-founded ideas, we need platforms again where knowledge holders share their knowledge and invite people to exchange this knowledge with each other.

Participants are asked what topics they would like to talk about. In addition to local topics, general topics such as loneliness, climate change, work-life balance, migration and integration, alternative energies, social media algorithms, political radicalization, social inequality, etc. are possible. We prepare the topics in such a way that they are easy to understand and so that everyone can join in the discussion.

More information on the project can be found here.

Migration Policy on the Run

In recent years, we have conducted extensive research on the living conditions and perspectives of refugees. In this context, Laila Keeling, Anjali Zyla, Sahba Salehi, Nadia Lejaille and Hans Blokland, among others, have spoken to a wide range of refugees. Some of the relevant interviews have been published here on our website. In addition, quantitative data were collected and social workers, volunteers, representatives of civil society organizations, civil servants and policy makers were interviewed in a region in Brandenburg. All this material has now been analyzed by Hans Blokland, and on this basis a large number of policy recommendations have been formulated. The final product, Migrationspolitik auf der Flucht (Migration Policy on the Run), has been published by Transcript Verlag in Bielefeld in November 2023. Information on the book and the research that informed it can be found on this page. An extended, English edition is in preparation.

From the cover text:

Migration and integration are inextricably linked to many fundamental social and political issues: Identity, belonging, discrimination, emancipation, diversity, cohesion, solidarity, responsibility, social order, and social policy. Hans Blokland focuses on the perceptions and experiences of refugees, professionals, volunteers, and policy decision makers in a district in Brandenburg and derives from this and derives more general insights about migration, integration and the challenges associated with it. Overall, he paints a rather troubling picture that highlights the convulsiveness and anxiety of most Western nations in dealing with migration.

Interviews with refugees

Although newcomers have regularly been among us for years, citizens, politicians and policymakers often have little idea of the personal, social and cultural backgrounds of these people. This causes not only loneliness, misunderstanding and antagonism. A consequence is also that integration is unnecessarily hampered and that policies aimed at this are less effective than they could be. To gain more insight into backgrounds, we conduct a large number of in-depth interviews with newcomers. We ask many questions: why did the people come, what was their life like before, what expectations did they have, what do they want to achieve in Germany, what are their experiences so far, what problems do they face, what solutions do they see for this? Visit the interviews here. In November 2023, Transcript Verlag has published a collection of these interviews. The book also contains an analysis of the interviews, an overview of common themes, as well as policy recommendations. For more information visit the page Migration Policy on the Run. We have continued to conduct interviews since then, and are now also revisiting our first interviewees: what happened since we talked to them for the first time in 2022?


Exposing and deconstructing discrimination in all its diversity: Deliberative training for civil society volunteers.

As in previous years, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is once again supporting our two-day training courses on discrimination and racism. The event aims to provide participants with detailed information on racism and discrimination as well as other forms of group-focused misanthropy and explain the socio-psychological, historical and sociological background. We also want to teach skills and discussion strategies to enable participants to deal with these issues better in their everyday work, but also in their private lives and in civil society. The discussion strategies should help to change perspectives, reveal mechanisms and inconsistent arguments and provide arguments to refute group-based misanthropy. Further information can be found here.

Deliberations with Newcomers

With the support of the Partnership for Democracy Westhavelland & Nauen, we are implementing a series of workshops with refugees in the refugee home in Nauen, Brandenburg, in 2024. The topics will include ethical, cultural and political diversity, but also democracy, freedom (of religion, expression, association), individual autonomy, emancipation, tolerance, identity, honor, discrimination, racism, gender equality, homosexuality, as well as the mutual fears of migrants and German citizens. For an interview about the previous project in 2020 click here. A short report on this project is here. An article on the deliberative ideas behind these workshops is here. The flyer of the project can be seen here.
The flyer in Persian: Lass und Reden_Farsi
The flyer in Arabic: Lass uns Reden_Arabic

Empowering Refugee Children

After successfully implementing a children’s project in 2022 with support from the Deutschen Kinderhilfswerk, we significantly expanded our activities in this area in 2023. The original project in Rangsdorf was first extended with the support of the Kinderhilfswerk, and then continued with the support of the Municipality of Rangsdorf. Reports of this can be found here and here. In addition, the German Postcode Lottery supported the formation of four similar groups in Teltow Stadt (2), Ludwigsfelde and Werder. The ideas behind the project are that refugee and trauma experiences, language deficits, living conditions in shelters and non-attendance at day care centers lead to significantly lower educational opportunities and future prospects for refugee children. Groups of 10 children each aged 5 to 10 were therefore formed with children from transitional homes. For six months, they are supervised for 2-3 hours a week by two social pedagogues. The focus is on strengthening self-determination, self-control and language skills, creative play and getting to know the outside world. In 2024 we continue the project in Rangsdorf and in Ludwigsfelde, in both cases with support of the municipality. Other projects are in development. For more information visit our page on children’s projects.