An Interview with Johannes Ebert Strengthening civil society actors means social participation

“Germany is a country that relies on international exchange.” As a “living” network, the Goethe-Institut makes present-day issues visible and enriches discourse in Germany with new stimuli and international viewpoints. In an interview, Secretary-General Johannes Ebert explains what focal points of the Goethe-Institut’s international cultural and language work will play a special role in 2019.  

Strengthening civil societies

One core focus of the Goethe-Institut’s international cultural work in Germany and abroad is strengthening civil society actors and structures. Johannes Ebert emphasises, “The Goethe-Institut’s collaboration with civil society actors, especially in the field of education and culture, is crucial to us. Because it’s through these actors that social participation arises – a civil society that rests on different pillars. That’s why we are very committed to working with civil societies both in Germany and abroad.”

Creative industries

The promotion of the creative industries will also play an important role in the work of the Goethe-Institut in the coming years. On this new field of work Johannes Ebert explained, “The creative industries promote access to culture and to cultural participation. This is therefore also an important field of work in Foreign Cultural and Educational Policy. Above all, our programmes aim to strengthen innovative production structures that enable young entrepreneurs in fields such as music, design or gaming to work sustainably and to realise their project ideas in their countries in a competitive way. It’s about promoting young creatives, educating them and networking them internationally.”

Inspiring and readying skilled workers for Germany

On 19 December, the passage of the new immigration law will set the course for the immigration of skilled workers. Johannes Ebert explained, “Whether an engineer, a doctor or a geriatric nurse – anyone who works in Germany needs appropriate language skills. German is the key to participation, also for professional success. As the largest teacher of the German language abroad, we see special need for action in the linguistic and intercultural training of skilled workers.” In many places, the demand for German lessons for skilled workers exceeds supply. “The bottleneck is the lack of German language teachers. Therefore,” Ebert continues, “in 2019, we aim to enlist new teachers worldwide and prepare them to teach German through an innovative recruitment and training programme.”

Recalculating the route

In 2019, various major events will take place in Berlin and Weimar in order to increasingly introduce discourses and artistic programmes developed by the Goethe-Institut and its partners abroad to debates in Germany. In March, the Freiraum project on the state of freedom in Europe will be presented at the Center for Art and Urbanistics in Berlin. In addition, the exhibition and research series bauhaus imaginista will be brought together at Haus der Kulturen der Welt from March until June. Johannes Ebert also announces the Kultursymposium Weimar under the motto “The Route Is Being Recalculated,” which will take place in June 2019. “We are very pleased to be hosting this global debate forum for the second time. The symposium will centre on the question of how we can navigate a world in which the technical possibilities and societal scope of action are greater than ever before.”