“Breaking Barriers” at the 11th Annual German American Conference at Harvard

October 31, 2019

© Wunderbar Together

This November, the Harvard Kennedy School held its 11th Annual German American Conference. The conference, which has become a well-known transatlantic summit in German-American relations, seeks to inspire leadership, foster dialogue, and promote innovation among its attendees. This event is the largest student-led conference of its kind in the United State with over 700 participants and over 50 speakers.

This year’s theme, “Breaking Barriers,” stoked thought-provoking discussions among attendees with 13 panels, keynote speeches, and, for the first time ever, and innovation lounge that connected participants with innovative startups and think tanks. Speakers included researchers, business leaders, journalists, activists, and government officials from both sides of the Atlantic.

The 2018 edition of this annual event was also one of several events across the country that took place during the opening week of Wunderbar Together. Now, one year later, participants gathered once more to discuss what had changed over the last year and what opportunities remain for future collaboration.

Among the event’s featured speakers were Friedrich Merz, Vice President of the Economic Council of the CDU, Gina McCarthy, Harvard professor and former EPA administrator, Peer Steinbrück, former Federal Minster of Finance, Philip Zelikow, professor at the University of Virginia, Nicole Menzenbach, Consul General of Germany to New England, and Matthias Heider, Chairman of the German-US Parliamentary Friendship Group in the Bundestag.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, making his second official visit to the United States as president, also attended the conference to sit on a panel on the first day of the conference. The conference was one of several stops on his tour throughout the Boston area, which included a visit to a joint concert by the German Gewandhausorchester and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a speech at the opening of the new Goethe-Institut Boston location.

In addition to the panel with President Steinmeier, other panels over the three-day event focused on a variety of pressing topics, like “Forward – Building An Apprenticeship System For Both Businesses and Communities,” “Making or breaking transatlantic security,” and “Fighting the Climate Crisis – Can technology, society, and politics save us?”

Find out more about this year’s German American conference here.

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