On Thursday February 18th, 2016, a group of socially conscious Germans gathered at Berlin music club SO36 to discuss the pressing issues surrounding migration and social integration. In the wake of the refugee crisis and global threats of terrorism, the public forum posed the questions: Do we (Germans), want to live in an open or closed society? And what are the consequences of choosing either option?
This particular gathering was part of the continuing debate series Die offene Gesellschaft or The Open Society, being held in theaters, universities, cultural associations and clubs across Germany. Created by Alexander Carius, co-founder and Managing Director of German think tank Adelphi, and Harald Welzer, social psychologist, professor and co-founder of FUTURZWEI Foundation for Sustainability, the public forum closely resembles the traditional American Town Hall meeting – giving members of the community the opportunity to voice their opinions and ask questions of prominent public or political figures while in a neutral space. The goal of the initiative is to encourage public participation in a live setting, rather than having participants take to a more guarded form of expression such as social media. The issues are undeniably difficult with no quick solutions, but by bringing people together to interact as equals, a deeper awareness of future possibility is achieved.
Since debuting back in November 2015, Die offene Gesellschaft has welcomed over 6000 participants and countless key German figures to debates nationwide. The series continues to grow throughout Germany, and has already reached international audiences with discussions in Austria and Switzerland. The next debate will take place this Thursday February 25th, at the Hans Otto Theater in Potsdam. To find out more about Die offene Gesellschaft visit: http://die-offene-gesellschaft.de