Back to the future: Hertie School celebrates 20th anniversary

In its anniversary programme, the international university addresses the social challenges of our time.

Looking back to move forward – this is the motto of the Hertie School’s 20th anniversary, which the school is celebrating in the academic year 2023/2024. Along its thematic focal points, the university is hosting public panel discussions where politicians and academics will discuss current and future societal challenges. The highlight of the anniversary year is the “High Level Forum”, a large-scale conference in May 2024. In addition, there are events for students, alumni and all Berliners. To kick off the 2023 fall semester on 6 September, well-known companions of the Hertie School will discuss the history of the university and the future of the social sciences in a festive setting.

"20 years of academic research and teaching on modern governance at the interface of politics, business and civil society – that is what the Hertie School stands for like no other university in Germany," says President Cornelia Woll. "In 20 years, the Hertie School has become one of the most renowned international universities for social sciences."

"When the Hertie Foundation founded the Hertie School 20 years ago, we wanted to establish a public policy school for the next generation of leaders in the field of governance. Today, the Hertie School is an equal partner of major European institutions such as Sciences Po and the London School of Economics and Political Science and is internationally recognised as a closely networked player in politics, business and civil society," says Bernd Knobloch, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Hertie School and Deputy Chairman of the non-profit Hertie Foundation.

"The Hertie School is a success story that demonstrates how great the need for practice-oriented teaching and research was and is," adds Michael Zürn, the first President of the Hertie School and now Director of the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB). "Twenty years ago, the Hertie School was one of the first institutions in Germany to bring together different disciplines from political science, economics and public administration to prepare students for their professional future. This mission continues to show the way not only at the Hertie School, but also on the international academic stage."

International and interdisciplinary: 20 years of the Hertie School

The Hertie School was conceptualised and founded by the Hertie Foundation to further one of the foundation's main pillars: strengthening democracy. The foundation remains the school’s main sponsor. The Hertie School was officially inaugurated by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2004, and in 2005, the Hertie School admitted its first 30 students to the Master of Public Policy programme. The graduates of the university are not only found at the classic governmental control centres: "About ten years ago, public administration was the natural employer for a large number of our alumni. That has changed," says Cornelia Woll. Around a third of the graduates work in public administration, but an even larger proportion (46 per cent) go into the private sector. The “third sector”, which includes NGOs or policy start-ups, offers jobs to about a quarter of the graduates, and the trend is continuing. Almost all alumni have a permanent job one year after graduation.

The Hertie School's alumni reflect the diversity of the university. From the party founder and Member of the European Parliament Damian Boeselager (Volt Europa) to the former Minister of Education Besa Shahini from Albania, the Mexican mobility activist Alejandra Leal Vallejo, and the Berlin-based Jeff Kwasi Klein, who has dedicated himself to the promotion of inclusive politics as a founder and Co-Director of NGOs like the Multitudes Foundation: Hertie School alumni are active in many fields and are at home all over the world.

Nine months of festive events for politics, academia and Berlin

To present its diverse expertise, the university invites students, alumni as well as experts from politics, business and civil society and the interested public to numerous events in the anniversary year. The festivities will kick off with the official start of the semester on 6 September, which former presidents Michael Zürn and Helmut Anheier and academic Anne-Marie Slaughter will attend.

As part of the "Hertie Futures Forum", the Hertie School is organising year-round discussions on the social challenges of the future: Where is Europe heading in the super election year 2024? What are the challenges of security and sustainability policy in the next 20 years? President Woll and her colleagues especially invite Berliners to these and other discussions. They can find out about all events, news and the history of the Hertie School on the website In addition, there will be an essay competition for students and an Alumni Month in November 2023, during which many of the approximately 2,500 alumni worldwide will invite you to informational and thematic events.

The anniversary year will conclude with the “High Level Forum” at the end of May 2024, a large-scale conference at which academics and politicians will compile the results of the previous discussions and jointly discuss approaches to solving global challenges.

Campaign collects donations for move in 2025

The anniversary year also marks the start of a large-scale fundraising campaign: as part of the Capital Campaign, the university wants to attract donations and sponsors for its new campus on Dorotheenstraße as well as student scholarships. The listed historic building, which once belonged to the medical and technical faculty of the Friedrich Wilhelm University, the predecessor of the Humboldt University of Berlin, is currently undergoing extensive renovation and should be ready for occupancy by 2025.


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