PRESS | 09.09.2020

Actively shaping social change: 
THE NEW INSTITUTE set to open in Hamburg

  • Wilhelm Krull and Maja Göpel join THE NEW INSTITUTE
  • Internationally renowned researchers and transformation experts have already confirmed their involvement
  • THE NEW INSTITUTE will be located in the Warburg Ensemble, a suite of nine neoclassical townhouses in the heart of Hamburg
  • The First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Dr. Peter Tschentscher, and the Second Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and Senator for Science, Research, Equality and Districts, Katharina Fegebank, warmly welcome the founding of THE NEW INSTITUTE

Hamburg, September 9th, 2020. The research hub of Hamburg will soon add another institution to its roster: THE NEW INSTITUTE combines globally networked research, visionary thinking and innovative practices. Hamburg-based entrepreneur Erck Rickmers has initiated an interdisciplinary and trans-sectoral platform for solution-oriented thinkers from across science, culture, business, government, activism and media. The institute aims to develop new solutions for the most pressing ecological, economic and political challenges of our time and to actively shape social change. “The world is changing at an unprecedented pace,” says Erck Rickmers, especially in terms of population growth, environmental degradation and climate change. “In many areas, systemic change is becoming a question of survival for humanity as a whole.”

Rickmers succeeded in engaging one of Europe’s most experienced science managers as founding director for the initiative: Wilhelm Krull, former Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation. Krull explains: “We want to initiate an intensive exchange between research and important actors in society to provide new impetus for social change.” Krull will lead THE NEW INSTITUTE Foundation, together with Anke Hennings, an experienced financial expert, and Christoph Gottschalk, a former partner and head of the Berlin office of communications firm Kekst CNC.

The current Secretary General of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), political economist Maja Göpel, will also move to Hamburg as Scientific Director on November 1st, 2020. “For me, THE NEW INSTITUTE is an ideal forum for building bridges between disciplines and political camps via academic excellence. By embracing courage, optimism and creativity, we aim to identify paths toward a positive future in times of great uncertainty.”
In September 2021, THE NEW INSTITUTE will move into the Warburg Ensemble, a historic suite of nine neoclassical townhouses in the heart of Hamburg. Up to 35 Fellows will live and work together on the premises, which encompass around 6,000 square meters. Innovative event and communication formats are intended to generate public discourse. “Hamburg is our gateway to the world,” says Wilhelm Krull. “Maintaining local partnerships is therefore just as important to us as our international network.”

At THE NEW INSTITUTE, conceptual frameworks will be developed collaboratively in order to translate them into practical initiatives. The first research topics are: redefining value systems, sustainable models of economic progress, the future of democracy, and the connection between digitization and sustainability in urban areas.

The success of the new institution is closely linked to the thinkers and scholars who are engaged to participate. The group will continue to expand over the next few months, growing also in terms of global reach and diversity.

The following renowned scholars have already confirmed their involvement:

  • Homi K. Bhabha (Harvard University), cultural critic and theorist of postcolonial culture, former director of Harvard’s Mahindra Humanities Center
  • Simone Chambers (University of California), political scientist focusing on democratic theory and political philosophy
  • Nicole Deitelhoff (Leibniz-Institut Hessische Stiftung für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung), expert on international relations and theories of global order
  • Markus Gabriel (University of Bonn), philosopher focusing on epistemology and modern and contemporary philosophy
  • Colin Mayer (University of Oxford), expert on management studies and public finance, former Dean of the Saïd Business School
  • Christoph Möllers (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Leibniz Prize-winning researcher focusing on constitutional law, democratic theory and philosophy of law
  • Corine Pelluchon (Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée), scholar focusing on moral philosophy, political philosophy and applied ethics
  • Dennis Snower (Hertie School of Governance Berlin), former president of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, researcher, and initiator and president of the Global Solutions Initiative
  • Sonja Vogt (University of Bern), expert in sustainable social development and head of the Policy and Cultural Evolution Lab
  • Daniel Ziblatt (Harvard University), researcher focusing on democratization with an emphasis on Europe

International experts on transformation will also be involved in establishing the institute, among them Francesca Bria, formerly Chief Digital Technology and Innovation Officer for the City of Barcelona and currently President of the Italian Innovation Fund, and Geoff Mulgan (University College London), formerly head of the British Nesta Foundation. Georg Diez, a well-known author and columnist, has been engaged for media relations.

Hamburg is a globally-minded city, where new trends and the challenges of the future become evident earlier than elsewhere. As a result, we are able to identify problems and to develop solutions which foster social change and improve the lives of our citizens. In doing so, THE NEW INSTITUTE is an important partner and a source of ideas", says Hamburg's First Mayor Dr. Peter Tschentscher on the founding of the institute. "I thank Erck Rickmers for his outstanding commitment and wish THE NEW INSTITUTE every success with its initiatives and innovative projects.
THE NEW INSTITUTE will bring to Hamburg an excellent research network promoting international exchange on current socio-political issues", says Hamburg's Senator for Science, Katharina Fegebank. "In the future, the institute can act as an important bridge between research and practice. We are facing enormous political, ecological and economic challenges, which we can only meet with scientifically grounded solutions. I am therefore looking forward to receiving proposals for solutions as well as smart recommendations to tackle the most pressing political and social issues. This is precisely where THE NEW INSTITUTE can make an important contribution, as an innovative and creative research platform - and further strengthen Hamburg as a hub for science.


THE NEW INSTITUTE is an institute of advanced study and a platform for shaping social change. It brings together an interdisciplinary and trans-sectoral group of thinkers and practitioners to develop solutions for the urgent ecological, economic and political challenges of our time. Starting in September 2021, up to 35 fellows will live and work together in the Warburg Ensemble, the future headquarters of THE NEW INSTITUTE.

THE NEW INSTITUTE is an initiative of Hamburg-based entrepreneur Erck Rickmers. In 2016 he established a foundation to investigate the biggest challenges of the 21st century and to use the knowledge gained to shape social change. Initially, research centers were funded at four institutions: the University of California Santa Barbara, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, the University of Cambridge and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In 2018, Rickmers acquired the Warburg Ensemble to serve as the headquarters for a research institute. In January 2020, the foundation changed its name and became THE NEW INSTITUTE Foundation.

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Charlotte Hasenkamp


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