Press release

Study: International competition in the field of foreign cultural and educational policy intensifying. Room for European synergies.

A man standing in front of the Andy Warhol painting "Johann Wolfgang von Goethe" on 06.10.2015 in Frankurt am Main (Hessen). Photo: Alexander Heinl/dpa

German model is healthy but action still required; China, Russia show strong commitment.

Berlin, 11 July 2017 – In the field of foreign cultural and educational policy, Germany is in an intense field of competition. In addition to traditional players such as France, the UK and the US, countries such as Brazil, China, Qatar and Russia have been actively involved for more than a decade. For example, since the opening of the first Confucius Institute in 2004, China has built a network of 500 institutions worldwide. Russia is investing primarily in its foreign media and striving to be the international leader in online reach.

On behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office, the Hertie School of Governance examined German foreign cultural and educational policy for a first international comparison. Interim results of the study, led by Helmut K. Anheier, show that Germany is well-positioned in all areas, with intermediary organisations such as the Goethe-Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, as well as Deutsche Welle. However, pressure is increasing due to the dynamic development of, in particular, foreign media, but also in the cultural sphere. In addition to expanding Germany’s own activities, the study suggests closer European cooperation as an option.

“Foreign cultural policy is widely regarded as a very important instrument of foreign policy,” says Helmut K. Anheier. “Almost all countries are trying to increase their effectiveness by expanding or rebuilding their activities. Many have strong geopolitical focuses. Germany has to adapt strategically.”

Andreas Görgen, Director-General for Culture and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office gave the following reaction to the outcome:

“Communications, cultural and educational work abroad creates the necessary space for better understanding the stories and narratives, the dreams and traumas of our partners in the world and for opening up access to our culture. This is only possible if there is space in both the analogue and digital areas where we can reach out, seek exchange as well as perceive and discuss differences. Schools and branches of the Goethe-Institut, university and academic cooperation arrangements are examples of such spaces. However, we do not want to simply stop there. In the age of fake news and propaganda, we have to take a closer look at digital spheres and be ready with our own range of offers, content and structures. We want to further develop cultural relations and education policy at the European level, especially with France – our closest neighbour and friend. That is why we want to work with France in particular to expand cooperation in third countries. This will be one of the issues discussed by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian at the Franco-German Council of Ministers on 13 July.”

The interim report (in German) on the study, “German Foreign Cultural and Educational Policy” examines strategies and activities in the areas of culture and language, education and science, as well as communication and media. The study considers Germany, Brazil, China, France, Great Britain, Qatar, Russia and the United States.

A round-up of media coverage related to this study can be found here.

The Hertie School of Governance is a private university based in Berlin, Germany, accredited by the state and the German Science Council. It prepares exceptional students for leadership positions in government, business, and civil society. Interdisciplinary and practice-oriented teaching, first-class research and an extensive international network set the Hertie School apart and position it as an ambassador of good governance, characterised by public debate and engagement. The school was founded at the end of 2003 as a project of the Hertie Foundation, which remains its major partner.

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