MBA STUDENTS ON A 5-DAYS LOBBYING EXCURSION IN BERLIN
„Lobby and Advocacy of NGOs in the Capital – Protagonist, Instruments and Methods“
The aim of the excursion was to teach the students on methods, concepts and instruments of lobbying in a practical sense through personal discussions in meetings with members of selected organizations and representatives from different political ministries. By the help of the meetings, during the discussions and by interviewing these experts, the students should learn to build the bridge from their theoretical knowledge they´ve gained in their MBA studies to a practical hands-on approach. The link between theory and practice and the comparison between different experiences and approaches of organizational and political lobby work created a comprehensive framework for a critical reflection of organizational lobbying with political parties.
The five-days excursion program has been fully organized and initiated by Prof. Dr. Warning (formerly Head of International Programs and Domestic Promotion at Bread for the World and, since May 1st of this year, the new Head of Middle East, Asia and Latin America Department at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Cooperation (BMZ) in Berlin). As lecturer of the module seminar "NGO Business Strategy and Organization" in the MBA program and with her expertise and excellent network, Prof. Warning enabled the students an unique opportunity to get in direct contact with the leaders of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), like Bread for the World, the Diakonie Deutschland, Germanwatch and VENRO as an umbrella organization of German Non-Governmental Organizations in Germany and to learn first-hand about the various aspects of lobbying in the organizations. The students used the chance to ask about their daily work in their organizations and interviewed them on their current project initiatives and their relations to the political decision-makers in the ministries. Of course, the students also used the occassion and informed themselves about the job and career opportunities in the resepective organizations.
MBA students vis-à-vis with Berlin's Lobbyists and Political Actors
In addition to the visits and meetings with several organizations, the excursion schedule also offered students various meet-ups with governmental actors such as the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). On the contrary to the meetings with NGO representatives who are responsible for lobbying or advocacy (L&A) in their respective positions, the students also had the opportunity to speak with the lobbyists addressees on the political level, where NGO initiated topics generally are being placed. Here for example, the group personally met Thilo Hoppe (former Member of the German Parliament, Alliance 90 / The Green Party), Johannes Selle (Member of the German Parliament, CDU) and Philip Gärtner (Head of Office of Member of Parliament Agnieska Brugger, Alliance 90 / The Green Party) on their premises of the German Bundestag.
The meetings mainly focused on questions about lobbying and advocacy needs of NGOs, L&A tools, their challenges, goals and success factors. The discussions were all characterized by a very open and honest atmosphere in which the interlocutors shared their personal experiences and know-how with the students and answered even critical questions and contentious issues patiently in detail. This allowed the students to gain a deep insight into the dynamics of political operations.
MBA students as guests in this year's Johannisempfang
Another special program highlight what the so called "Johannisempfang" on June 27th which took place in the French "Friedrichstadtkirche", located right at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. Thank to Ms. Warnings well established connections in the capital, the MBA group has been invited to attend the ceremony together with high-ranked political representatives (above others), such as Herrmann Gröhe (Member of the German Parliament, CDU) or Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Member of the German Parliament, Alliance 90 / The Green Party). After the ceremony, the international students group has been invited to join the formal solemnity in the courtyard garden with lots of high-ranked guests from political parties, congregation, organisations of Berlin´s society.
Exploring Berlin's turbulent history
For the student group of 13 people, coming from nine different countries of five continents of the world, the excursion program of course also included a few touristy highlights to allow them to explore the capital´s metropolitan spirit, it´s vibrant culture and imposing history. In addition to the exclusive guest visit to the German Parliament ("Deutscher Bundestag"), the students also took a guided boat cruise on the Spree river. On another day they furthermore altogether joined a thematically guided "Walking Tour" through Berlin, while they learned valuable information on the political past and cultural development of the city of Berlin and Germany during the 20th century. Without any doubt, the group enjoyed these special moments outside the formal meetings and the regular classroom atmosphere to the fullest.
Final Conclusion & Acknowledgement
First of all, a special thank goes to Prof. Warning and her Berlin team from Bread for the World for the great organization and the perfectly composed program. It couldn´t be more perfect. After the successful launch of the lobby excursion in 2016 for the very first time, we are proud and happy to finalize this year´s excursion trip simply with one student´s quote who described the Berlin excursion to be "the crowning conclusion of an international study experience at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University".
Impressions of the Berlin excursion 2018
In order to complete the written report visually, we glady share some photographic impressions of the Berlin Excursion 2018 with you. Please click through our picture gallery below.