The Update


What we do, what we plan, what we think



All eyes, already, on 2023/2024

Three ideas for a better world: We have chosen three concrete projects to focus on in the 2023/2024 academic year, bringing innovative thinkers and practitioners together, and striving for impact. We are now looking for fellows to work on these projects with our new Program Chairs, so please apply!

What are the projects? We will work on reformulating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in light of non-materialist conceptions of human flourishing. We will think about Governing the Planetary Commons, taking the Amazon as a case-study. And we will investigate polarization in the context of socio-ecological transformations and develop a toolkit in an attempt to constructively change this destructive development. 

Who are the invited Program Chairs? Andrej Zwitter is Chair of Governance and Innovation and Dean of Faculty Campus Fryslân, University of Groningen, and will join THE NEW INSTITUTE in the fall along with Michael Brüggemann, who is Professor of Communication Research, Climate, and Science Communication at the University of Hamburg. Already joining us this month is Louis Kotzé, Research Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, North-West University in South Africa. 

If you think that's for you: We are looking for people with intellectual curiosity, wit, and determination to bring these projects to fruition. If you are working on these topics, or if you know someone who is, please consider applying. 


 Our lovely (future) garden

The heart of our institute, a source of calmness and community, for meditation and mingling—this will soon be our garden, connecting all of the separate houses in a unified and meaningful way. Breathing space. 

At the moment, of course, it is still a construction site, a structure of open spaces designed by the garden architects of Atelier Girot slowly rising into the wintry air. Come spring, we will be a step closer; come summer, we might just be there. 


Books you need to read in 2023

If you want to get mermaidized: The start of a new year is always busy, so here's a recommendation for a book that you can read in less than five minutes, although I would encourage you to read it languorously. Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love is, in fact, a children's book but the way it invokes the freedom of breaking free from limiting gender norms provides profound lessons for readers of all ages. It's both a beautiful piece of art as well as an example of radically powerful storytelling that never fails to bring a smile to my face. Minna Salami

If you want to be graced: I admire condensed language on our human nature in nature. Tomas Tranströmer was a master in this. Read his early poems in Bright Scythe to be inspired by lines like "Sudden confidence, by grace.” Tranströmer's way of expressing earthly aspects of the human condition are a rich source to accept and even praise the uncertainties and ambivalences that will certainly continue to shape our world in 2023. Frederic Hanusch

If you want to go deep in time: To find a new path for the future of humanity, we need to rewrite human history. In The Dawn of Everything, the two Davids, Graeber and Wengrow, talk about the past, you may assume—but really, it is about the endless possibilities for our kind. Ece Temelkuran

If you want to be swept away: Everything about Paulus Böhmer is fascinating—his project was a long cycle of poems, a kaddish in his own particular tradition, a flow of thoughts, words, impressions, a unique universe en miniature, from the smallest things to the biggest questions. Böhmer, who wrote in German, combines emotion and reflection in the most surprising ways—you cannot put down his books because around every corner something extraordinary is waiting. Christian Kastrop

If you want to get busy: Witty and a fast read, Rules: A Short History of What We Live By by Lorraine Daston offers a fascinating historical and philosophical look at the rules that govern pretty much everything we do. It also models what's coming down the pike: super "thin,” inflexible rules characteristic of AI algorithms that presuppose a uniform, consistent world, i.e., not ours! Read it and weep. Or get busy. Ruth Chang

If you want to build a better world: I haven't been this excited to read a book in a while. The Value of a Whale is an excellent one by the brilliant Adrienne Buller. A must read for everyone interested in the false promises of green capitalism and connections between financial power, economic injustice, and ecological crisis. Rahel Süß

If you want to be transformed: Everyone should read Assembly by Natasha Brown for its extraordinary and unforgettable writing style. Moreover, the novel allows us to fill the shoes of someone who is required to give up her identity to attain success. Brown shows how one moment can turn your whole life upside down and make the choices you have made appear questionable and hollow. Sina Wunderlich, from the Felix Jud Bookstore at THE NEW INSTITUTE

A new season of recording

One of the most curious and sadly entertaining stories of 2022 was the meltdown of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and the strange saga of its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried. Billions were lost, people's lives were ruined. The story also offered a glimpse into the universe of Web3, more its pitfalls than its potentials.

Our fellow Simon Denny will start recording the second season of his podcast Seed Phrase this month. He invites artists, technologists, and academics to reflect on this ambivalent stage of a technology which can be used in many ways, depending on the political and economic choices we make.

But listen for yourself, the first season is available here. The questions addressed will surely stay with us in 2023 and beyond.

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


If this message is not displayed correctly, please click here.

If you don't want to receive this email anymore, click here to unsubscribe.