Welcome to the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy
"The best way to predict the future is to create it."
Welcome to the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Germany's oldest public policy school situated within its newest public university. Created in 2002 as part of the Faculty of Legal, Social and Economic Sciences it has operated since as an interdisciplinary, practice-oriented and international institute of higher education that has been preparing students for the demands and challenges of today's complex political world.
Nearly thirty years ago, Willy Brandt, in his capacity as chair of the North-South Commission, foresaw the emergence of that world and likened it to the ‘rise of a new civilization.’ It would bring with it challenges unprecedented in magnitude and complexity, yet it would also enable new ways of addressing these, based on the heightened awareness of global interconnectedness and the clear-headed confidence in the possibility of collective political action.
The Brandt School’s mission over the past ten years has been to capacitate future policy-makers from around the world along these premises. It has done so by combining the time-tested curriculum of the grand North American public policy schools with the distinctive perspective that its location at the very center of Europe and at the crossing point between West and East, ‘old’ and ‘new’ entails. The resulting Brandt School approach stands out through its systematic trans-disciplinarity, its comprehensively global focus, and its methodical linking of theory and practice.
It is also at the cutting-edge of our times, taking the geopolitical rise of the global South as seriously as the continuing relevance of the legacy of the global North. It is neither limited to mature democracies, nor to elite decision-making, but encompasses all types of policy environment, from state administration to non-state governance, from conflict and transition to development and conservation. In this, it purposely seeks to go beyond the provision of technocratic expertise and instead aspires to endow its students with the analytical toolkit needed to understand and interact with the functional logic behind political, social, and economic processes in a diversity of operational theatres.
Along these lines, the Brandt School has been educating future leaders in government, civil society, and private enterprise. Its teaching is embedded in a dynamic and highly innovative research environment in which cutting-edge public policy themes are explored in an integrated manner and the methodological frontiers of the social sciences expanded. Understood as a discipline of disciplines, public policy sits at the interface between theory and practice, understanding and engagement, knowledge, and politics. Thanks to its partners, and in particular the Haniel Foundation, the Brandt School has been able to make the most of its unique location in Thuringia’s capital Erfurt, in the very centre of the unified Germany, imbued with deep historical significance from the Reformation to the Thirty Years' War, from Weimar to the Wall, with close infrastructural and intellectual ties to other important centres, Berlin, Frankfurt, Dresden, Prague, to name but a few. It is a setting in which the sort of reflective space required for policy-makers of the future thrives. It is the place to be!