The participants of the expert workshop for the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2018
Norbert Kron

Event: 04 July 2017: Expert workshop in Berlin for the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2018

How can living together in cultural diversity be made to succeed? What can Germany learn from the world? Where is cultural diversity already handled in ways exemplary for others? These questions were the focus of the expert workshop on the theme of the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2018.

With the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2018, the Bertelsmann Stiftung seeks to highlight ways in which living together in cultural diversity can be productively shaped. Following the Reinhard Mohn Prize’s motto – to “learn from the world” – we launched an international research project looking for good examples of dealing with cultural diversity that could also be translated usefully to Germany. The first results of this research were the subject of an expert workshop in Berlin in July featuring around 20 specialists in the field from academia, politics, the business sector, the media and civil society. In addition to experts from Germany, specialists from Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Israel also participated.

The workshop participants together discussed strategies, projects and initiatives from 11 countries that combined the acknowledgment of cultural diversity with the goal of equal opportunities for participation. The conversations covered a broad spectrum of topics, including legal measures such as protections for minorities, forms of symbolic recognition such as naturalization ceremonies and the representation of different cultural identities in the media, and formats for dialogue and understanding designed to enable intercultural exchange.

Living together in diversity can be learned

In addition to their various specialist perspectives, the experts also contributed country-specific points of view. For example, it became apparent that in countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom, cultural diversity is acknowledged as a part of society entirely as a matter of course. However, the experts stressed that here too, this has been the result of a learning process that has taken time. In addition, experiences from Belgium made it clear that handling cultural diversity positively is not reserved solely for the Anglo-Saxon countries traditionally known for their openness to different cultural identities. By approaching the task prudently, societies that have less experience with cultural diversity can also learn to deal with it effectively.

Overall, the experts stressed that a balance between the recognition of differences and an awareness of similarities is important for living together successfully in cultural diversity. Furthermore, they indicated that this path must be regarded as a long-term societal task, demanding both perseverance and patience. At the same time, they said that small advances, such as the development of personal relationships within one’s own immediate environment, represent important steps along this road.

Cities in the international research spotlight

The ability to manage cultural diversity effectively can be learned only through the concrete experience of living together. For this reason, the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2018 attaches particular importance to cities, where cultural diversity is a part of everyday life. The experts endorsed this orientation for the international research. In an urban context, models for culturally diverse coexistence can be put to the test directly in the immediate living environment. In this regard, the experts said, the ability to meet, interact and form relationships with other people in the context of daily life is fundamental to productive coexistence. However, these features don’t always arise on their own. Instead, the workshop participants noted, opportunities and spaces must be created specifically for this purpose.

The results of the expert workshop were incorporated in subsequent Reinhard Mohn Prize project work, including in the evaluation of good examples of living together in cultural diversity.

Experts taking part in the discussion included:

  • Mohammad Darawshe, Center for Equality & Shared Society, Givat Haviva/Israel
  • Honey Deihimi, German Federal Chancellery
  • Farhad Dilmaghani, DeutschPlus e.V.
  • Aletta Gräfin von Hardenberg, Diversity Charter
  • Prof. Dr. Volker Heins, Essen Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities
  • Iva Krtalic, Westdeutscher Rundfunk
  • Francesca Lionetti, Council of Europe
  • Prof. Dr. Tariq Modood, University of Bristol/United Kingdom
  • Thomas Müller, City of Nuremberg
  • Sheila Mysorekar, Neue Deutsche Medienmacher
  • Prof. Dr. Roland Roth, Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences
  • Douglas Saunders, journalist and author, Toronto
  • Prof. Dr. Oliver Schmidtke, University of Victoria/Canada
  • Bart Somers, mayor of Mechelen/Belgium
  • Prof. Dr. Riem Spielhaus, University of Göttingen
  • Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth, former president of the German Bundestag
  • Düzen Tekkal, journalist and filmmaker
  • Dr. Eva Voß, Ernst & Young
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Wrase, Humboldt University Berlin

Background information

Background information

The Reinhard Mohn Prize is awarded in honor of Bertelsmann Stiftung’s founder Reinhard Mohn (1921 – 2009) . The prize is awarded annually to exceptional, globally active individuals who have played a key role in creating solutions for social and political issues. In order to identify and select a prize recipient, the Bertelsmann Stiftung conducts a worldwide search for innovative concepts and solutions to sustainability challenges with relevance for Germany.

More about the Reinhard Mohn Prize.


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