For the Atlantic Academy, 2016 was primarily concerned with the US presidential and congressional elections on November 8. Many of the topics that resulted from these elections flowed into meetings, education, and consultancy. In addition to these complex topics, the Atlantic Academy offered numerous opportunities to develop, exchange and discuss the various aspects of transatlantic relations.
These issues include the American debate on different constitutional rights, the views on the possession of firearms, abortion, the challenges in climate and energy policy, the state of a divided nation during the election and the transatlantic view of social problems such as violence against women. The conference of political scientists in the German Association for American Studies (DGfA), which is traditionally co-organized by the Atlantic Academy, took place this year in Berlin and devoted itself to the growing inequality in the USA.
During 2016, culture also played an important role. For the first time, we organized a Craft Beer Evening. In this short space of time, we were able to bring together Americans with other Americans, and of course Germans. Additionally, we supported the Hunsrueck-Hochwald national park during the organization of its first anniversary, offering a lecture on the national parks in the USA.
Undoubtedly, a highlight of the past year was the celebration of the 20th anniversary oft he Atlantic Academy in the Mainz State Chancellery. During this celebration, we were able to welcome Karsten Voigt, former lecturer and Commissioner for Transatlantic Relations, as well as members of the board. Also in attendance were members of Rhineland-Pfalz State Parliament, former Academy director Wolfgang Toennesmann, former Minister of the Interior and chairperson of the Academy, Karl-Perter Bruch, as well as former Prime Minister of Rheinland-Pfalz, Kurt Beck.
In addition to the successful events, 2016 brought the very sad news of the death of the Atlantic Academy’s founding director, Dr Werner Kremp, on April 1st. With his tireless dedication and wealth of ideas, he has not only laid the foundation for the Academy’s excellent work in its first 14 years, but he also took decisive steps to grow the organization.
We want to continue along this path, especially with the ever changing and growing challenges regarding the USA and transatlantic relations. Be it foreign and security issues or the similarities and differences in the economic, social or, generally speaking, domestic political area.
Wide Range of Projects
In the 2016 project year, the Atlantic Academy has carried out 83 projects. These include six Atlantic Forums, 23 workshops, two symposia, an exhibition, numerous seminars, panel discussions and our project “Welcome to Rhineland-Pfalz! Our neighbors from America.“ With this we have reached 4,384 participants.
Without school workshops, 60 projects were carried out this year by the Atlantic Academy. We have once again succeeded in further reducing the individual costs of the projects.
The PfalzAkademie Lambrecht was used twice for our events. In addition to a seminar on the American debate on firearms possession and abortion, we visited with our Summer School in August, as always.
Political education is no longer possible without cooperation and the resulting effects. With more than 48 partnerships, we have designed, organized and implemented many projects this year. As in previous years, the most important partners were the US Consulate General Frankfurt, the Political Science department at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, the German-American International Women’s Club (DAIFC) Kaiserslautern, the Ingelheim Continuing Education Center and the Europe Direct Information Center Kaiserslautern.
We were able to create four additional partnerships this year, among others, with the Hunsrueck-Hochwald National Park and the “Gründerbüro” of the TU Kaiserslautern.
We also applied for and received grants from the Federal Center for Political Education (BpB) and the Regional Center for Political Education in Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate for 2016. It should be emphasized that the funding by the BpB was significantly increased and was also granted for 2017. In addition, we have been able to obtain a high-end grant from the US Embassy Berlin for projects and infrastructure from October of 2016 to September of 2017. We were particularly pleased to receive a donation from the DAIFC of over 1,000 Euros for our work with youth.
The Employees of the Atlantic Academy - Expertise
In addition to many lectures and events put on by the Atlantic Academy, the Director of the Academy also visited the European Spring Academy of the European Academy in Otzenhausen, where he gave a lecture titled: More Cooperation or a New Alienation? The Status of Transatlantic Relations between Europe and the US.“ This lecture was on the foreign policy of the Obama administration in the run up to and after the election. Further talks were given at the Rotary Club Kaiserslautern-Kurpfalz, the Economic Council of the CDU, and the Lions Club Ingelheim. At the invitation of the Warburg Chapter of the American Council on Germany, Dr. Sirakov undertook a lecture trip to the USA and visited the Chapters in Charlotte (NC), Atlanta (GA), Boca Raton (FL) and Los Angeles (CA). The lecture “The Rise and Challenges of Authoritarian Populism in Europe and the United States“ was met with a very positive response.
During the ring lecture “Representing the American People“ at the University of the Saarland, the education assistant Sarah Wagner spoke on the topic “What you see is what you get? The media and the US elections“. She also spoke about the elections in the USA at the Mainz-Louisville Circle of Friends.
Social Networks, The New Website and the Work of the Atlantic Academy
The involvement of the Atlantic Academy in social networks such as Twitter (@AtlantAkademie) and Facebook (@AtlantischeAkademie) has continued in 2016. The number of those who follow our channels has risen. Among the new followers are the Coordinator for the Transatlantic Partnership Juergen Hardt, personalities from national politics such as Pia Schellhammer, Gerd Schreiner, Alexander Schweitzer and Giorgina Kazungu-Hass, the US correspondents of the Sueddetsche Zeitung, the ARD and the Spiegel, Matthias Kolb, Ina Ruck and Marc Pitzke, as well as the political foundations of the CDU, the SPD and the FDP.
In 2016 there was also a change in the Academy’s website. With its new design, the site is more open, more clearly structured and responsive. Our press releases, interviews, seminar reports and notes can be found in a comprehensive and individual overview under the tab ‘News’. The news archives contain notifications that are older than one year. Our current projects such as exhibitions, events, school workshops and our special project „Welcome to Rhineland-Pfalz“ can be accessed under ‘program’. The latest projects are always immediately visible. If you are already looking for programs, you can find them in the program archive. The various publications of the Academy can be browsed through and the Atlantic texts can be ordered online. Information about the Atlantic Academy, its concept, the team, the club and the board are also online.
The launch of the English-language website is planned for February of 2017. In doing so, all static content, such as the general information on the publications and the Academy, as well as all sections, will be available in English.
New Challenges and Opportunities for the Academy
The Atlantic Academy looks back on its successful program year and at major challenges in the coming year.
Our programming has overseen 40 events, which include regular series such as the Atlantic Forums, the Summer School, the partnership with the Kaiserslautern Business Promotion (Brown Bag Luncheon) and the Europe Direct Information Center events. One focus of the year 2017 will be the discussion of the deep division in American society and politics and, of course, the political program of the new administration under Donald J Trump. For this reason, we have been working on a continuation of our successful publication series entitled “The Road Ahead – Analysis of the Trump Administration“, in which well-known US experts will again discuss the new presidency.
The consequences of the electoral decisions last November for transatlantic relations, as well as international relations as a whole, are difficult to predict. However, central changes in the foreign, security and economic policy of the United States are already apparent with regard to the personnel decisions of the designated president and do not necessarily promise good results. Many of these topics will occupy us much more in the coming months and already make one thing clear: the central task of the Atlantic Academy as a bridge builder is more important than ever in these times. We will continue to accept the challenges in the future with much energy and new ideas.