The Update


What we do, what we plan, what we think



Confronting Capitalism: Looking for fellows

Our plans for the 2024/25 academic year: The overarching theme will be “Confronting Capitalism” – and the call for Program Chairs triggered an interesting, varied, and promising array of candidates. Now the selection process starts, which is always an exciting period of the year.

These are some of our key questions: Which progressive futures are emerging in our political and economic present? Where does economic and ethical progress align? How do we maintain the strengths of market economies while addressing their weaknesses? To which extent is the ecological crisis a signifier of capitalism?

Now we will be looking for fellows: The program chairs will have the opportunity to assemble their academic dream team to work on their specific angle within the broader question of how to tackle some of the biggest problems we face today. If you are interested in becoming a fellow and joining the journey, we will alert you when the call for fellows opens.


Helmut-Schmidt-Zukunftpreis: Sanna Marin

What are future-proof societies? This was one of the key questions raised by Sanna Marin, the former Finnish prime minister who was awarded the Helmut-Schmidt-Zukunftspreis for her outstanding work in shaping the future of politics in Europe and beyond – THE NEW INSTITUTE has awarded this prize together with Die Zeit and the Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung.

But what is “sisu”? Sisu – you need guts to get through the challenges. In her acceptance speech, Sanna Marin not only shared this compelling Finnish concept, but also emphasized that living democracy is a question of values – plus a certain degree of resilience and fierce determination.

What was the mood? Politics is a social matter and decision making is a social practice. At Hamburg’s Thalia Theater, this year’s venue of the prize ceremony, this included, among others, the formidable pianist Igor Levit who performed and talked about his vision for democracy, and Sanna Marin’s fellow social democrat Peer Steinbrück, the former candidate for the German chancellery known for his dry wit. 

Also happening: The Helmut-Schmidt-Zukunftsfestival at Leuphana University in Lüneburg, co-hosted by THE NEW INSTITUTE, offered a well-curated group of 40 young changemakers the opportunity to meet and discuss questions of innovation and responsibility, zooming in on “what is good about the new”.


The Data Commons Working Group

What is it? The Data Commons Working Group is part of THE NEW INSTITUTE project The New Hanse under the guidance of the tech innovator Francesca Bria – the members are experts in the fields of data governance, law, policy making, and civil society and meet regularly to work toward viable blueprints.

What kind of blueprints? Europe is a leader in designing policies, regulations, and concrete answers to the emerging problems of digital capitalism – the blueprints that the DCWG is developing are focused on creating concepts and legal frameworks for data intermediaries.

Do you want to know more? Then dive into the most recent report of the DCWG, published here.

What else is new? In cooperation with our partners in the city government of Hamburg, we launched a challenge, attracting many great proposals. The top two submissions will work on a detailed concept, and we are curious to see how they want to innovatively analyze cycling and micro mobility flows in Hamburg – based on exclusive data sets from our partners and city data. 

Source of inspiration: From the fellows

I want to recommend Values: An Economist’s Guide to Everything that Matters by Mark Carney, a former Governor of the Bank of England. This is an outstanding book on the relation between economics and values, with three parts. Part I is on the rise of the market society, examining various concepts of value and their roots in political philosophy, and more recently more narrowly in economic theory and financial practice, and the challenges resulting from market fundamentalism. Part II is on three crises of values, namely credit crises, the COVID crisis, and the climate crisis, in each case examining the underlying causes and policy responses. Part III is on reclaiming our values and how to create action plans for leaders, companies, investors, and countries, thus creating a new platform-based approach to managing the global commons and rebuilding an inclusive social contract. Its overall theme is restoring humanity in a society that values what matters. It is an integrated view proposing solutions that put human values back at the core of economics to serve the many, not the few.

George Ellis is a physicist and a fellow at THE NEW INSTITUTE.


Seed Phrase: The Second Season

What is a seed phrase? A seed phrase is the twelve words that serve as the key to unlock an NFT. And what, again, is a NFT? Wait – you have not listened to the first season of Simon Denny’s podcast?

So, for the record: The artist and THE NEW INSTITUTE fellow Simon Denny invited guests from tech, business, civic society, and the arts to record conversations about blockchain, crypto, and Web3 – and discussed the emancipatory potential of these technologies as well as their perils.

The new season features self-owning forests, post-colonial futures, the exploration of belief, and games of governance – four new episodes that take you even deeper into the rabbit hole and raise fundamental questions: Could technology be used to transform non-human entities into actors in an economic network? Do NFTs merely privatize ideas to generate profit? Or can they open up other pathways to political participation?

Where can you find the episodes? Season 2 of Seed Phrase is now available on all podcast streaming platforms – and of course, our website. You can also mint your own NFT of your favorite conversation – or collect all four artworks!


We are happy (and proud)

Ece Temelkuran: A writer, journalist, and political thinker living in exile since leaving her native Turkey seven years ago – she is traveling, publishing, and giving talks, all to support the fragile idea of democracy. Now, she was awarded this year’s Premio Internacional de Periodismo de El Mundo for her work, celebrating the defense of freedom of expression and ethical commitment. She represents, as the jury wrote, the fundamental values ​​of the profession: courage and rigor.

Tobias Müller: A scholar of many talents and political thinker in his own right, he was granted one of the prestigious Early Career Fellowships of the Leverhulme Trust. His project “Democratic Futures: Climate Change, Coloniality and State Legitimacy” will be funded for three years and situated at the CRASSH center at Cambridge University, itself a partner of THE NEW INSTITUTE.


Spring is here

And the new term started: We welcomed, as new fellows, the computational scientist Mike Farjam, the former president of the National Humanities Center in North Carolina Geoffrey Harpham, the behavioral scientist Jim Guszcza, the historian Iryna Kashtalian, and Helena Rauxloh, who works on political polarization and individualized online information environments.

And the new term started: We welcomed, as new fellows, the computational scientist Mike Farjam, the former president of the National Humanities Center in North Carolina Geoffrey Harpham, the behavioral scientist Jim Guszcza, the historian Iryna Kashtalian, and Helena Rauxloh, who works on political polarization and individualized online information environments.


Finally: Our garden is in full bloom – this will be a very special place for coffee, conversations, and cocktails, a place for small talk and big visions. After the period of renovation at the Warburg Ensemble, we cannot wait for more good weather!

As always: Stay safe, stay tuned.

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


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