The Update


What we do, what we plan, what we think



Rethinking capitalism

The call for program chairs closed in June and attracted a host of interesting candidates. The question of a different form of capitalism will be the focus of the 2024/25 academic year – over the summer we will draft the first calls for fellows; be sure to learn more about this here soon. 

What are the main questions? To what extent is the ecological crisis a signifier of capitalism? Which emerging reforms and experimental practices hold promise? What would it take to scale them? Where does the law hold us back – and how would it have to be rewritten?


Exit the polycrisis

What is hope in dark times? The Club of Rome has always championed both research into the origins and the nature of the present crisis, mainly the conflict between nature and humans and the effects of capitalism on the climate – and we are very happy to announce that Minna Salami, Program Chair at THE NEW INSTITUTE, will join the Club of Rome as a member.

What is the challenge? Minna will work with the other members on “holistic solutions to complex global issues and promote policy initiatives and action to enable humanity to emerge from multiple planetary emergencies” as the Club of Rome puts it, and contribute her perspective, which she will develop in her program at THE NEW INSTITUTE on “Black Feminism and the Polycrisis” and in her forthcoming book “Can Feminism be African,” out in 2024.


Goodbye to (some of) our fellows

What a year this was: And we reflected on this at our end-of-year conference –  each fellow presented thoughts, projects, inspiration, or change, ranging from a moving meditation on the question of home to the specter of the imperative mandate, from the “freedom toaster” to the “prosperity toaster,” from measuring prosperity to multifaceted stories, the poetic to the planetary, from heady discussions to a glass of elderberry-infused cocktail in the garden. 

We were blessed to have had with us this year: Báyò Akómoláfé, Harald Atmanspacher, Anthea Behm, Ruth Chang, Simon Denny, Shimon Dotan, Mike Farjam, Jim Guszcza, Geoffrey Harpham, Tabea Lissner, Chrysostomos Mantzavinos, Helena Rauxloh, Vladimir Safatle, Judith Simon, László Upor

And we are sure that we will meet again.

Source of inspiration: From the library

I was tempted to mention the new novel by T. C. Boyle here (the warmest recommendation anyway!), but you don't need a newsletter for that. If you like things a bit more edgy, you might reach for the essay "Land Sickness": Author Nikolaj Schultz flees from an unbearable heat wave and sleepless nights in Paris to a Mediterranean island; however, he doesn't find the peace he had hoped for. The absurdity of tourism and an everyday life shaped by capitalism triggers profound thoughts and fears. Somewhere set between personal observation and big picture, fiction and non-fiction, this beautiful essay is a flowing though not an easy read.

Christiane Müller is the head of the library at THE NEW INSTITUTE.


Money as a Democratic Medium 2.0

What was the event? A collaborative effort of, among others, Harvard Law School, Hamburg Institute for Social Research, Universität Würzburg, and THE NEW INSTITUTE, this two-day conference took place simultaneously both in Cambridge, MA, and in Hamburg, bringing together a host of scholars and an interested public to discuss alternative visions for our monetary futures.

What were some key insights? The Hamburg tier of the conference, co-organized by THE NEW INSTITUTE program chair Isabel Feichtner, featured presentations ranging from the global public-private power nexus to the future of central bank money and re-making money for a sustainable future, to the question of what complementary currencies are actually good for. 

One strong take: “For every announcement of net-zero commitment, there is a press report revealing how ostensibly green funds sustain the fossil fuel industry or damage biodiversity and livelihoods across the globe,” says Gabriela Junqueira of the University of São Paulo. “This requires clarifying how legal regimes shape green finance and energy value chains, and how taxonomies direct financial resources towards sustainable activities, according to which criteria and with which distributive effects.


The EU is Tackling the Question of Data

And THE NEW INSTITUTE is supporting its effort: The New Hanse’s Data Commons Working Group, headed by Francesca Bria, met in Berlin to discuss the questions of data intermediaries and data policy in general. The meeting included a keynote by the EU Commission (DG CNET) and a public panel discussion with speakers from our partners within the city of Hamburg as well as representatives of two German federal ministries. The mood was constructive. Videos and further material will soon be available on:

The EU Data Act, finalized in late June and becoming applicable in 20 months, is an important step towards sharing privately owned data for the common good – this could be the basis for a different understanding of the economy and the basis for a transformative relationship between the public sector and business: ideally a more inclusive and responsive form of data democracy.

What is next? Over the summer, the members of the Data Commons Working Group will finalize their draft of a blueprint for data sharing for the public good – and present it in the fall in Germany and in the context of the EU. The goal is actual impact in this transformative field of policy and governance.


The World’s Most Dangerous Show

Usually, we don’t advertise – but this new series on Amazon not only has the right intentions (raise awareness about the perils of the imminent climate crisis), it is also partly the result of a cooperation that THE NEW INSTITUTE started three years ago.

Because, how do you change public opinion? This was the recurring question during our work with the team of the film producer Lars Jessen – how to find a balance between fear and hope, between showing the consequences of our lifestyles and the options for alternatives. 

The role of popular personalities, like the German TV host Joko Winterscheidt who presents “The World’s Most Dangerous Show,” could be, for the mainstream, the message of change that is needed – and possible.

With that, we are off for the summer. Be well, stay in the shade, and read a book or two or three.

See you in the fall.

Hamburg is our home.
The world is our habitat.
The future is our concern.


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