»Mein Aufbruch fand vor 4 Jahren statt, als ich aus dem Schwabenland nach Jena kam. Geprägt von westdeutscher Überheblichkeit kam ich zwar aufgeschlossen, aber doch überrascht über den angenehmen zwischenmenschlichen Umgang hier an. Jetzt gefällt es mir hier so gut, dass ich fast gar nicht mehr wegwill … einzig die Entfernung zur Familie könnte mich zu einem erneuten Aufbruch zurück in den Westen bewegen.«

Anonym from Jena / Winzerla, born 1986 in Waiblingen, BRD

Jena is characterized by the experience that challenges are best tackled together. Be it in the city’s efforts to defend itself against right-wing extremist activities and in dealing with the right-wing terror of the so-called NSU, be it in major urban development projects such as the development of Eichplatz or the reception of refugees. Success and broadly supported solutions require cooperation: between the city administration and civil society, together with scientists, trade unions and cultural workers, supported by small and large Jena companies. The Future Centre in Jena builds directly on this diversity of commitment.

The diverse initiatives in Jena working on current and future social challenges use the resources of the Future Centre and fill it with life through their work. The topics range from climate change and the ecological crisis to questions of justice and social participation to commitment to democracy, against right-wing extremism, racism, sexism and discrimination. Civil society initiatives are also driving forward the reappraisal of National Socialism and the GDR dictatorship.

Jena’s excellent academic landscape is in close exchange with the researchers at the Future Centre. The scientists at Friedrich Schiller University, Ernst Abbe University, the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society, as well as the research institutes on the Beutenberg and in the Jena area, contribute their expertise on the effects and experiences of upheavals – in the past, but also in the present and future – to the Future Centre’s public debates. Jena’s diverse cultural institutions, as well as the actors from the subculture and independent scene, are in close exchange with the Centre for German Unity and European Transformation and make the experiences negotiated there directly tangible for visitors.

The Centre for German Unity and European Transformation draws on the excellent network of the City of Science Jena to Central and Eastern Europe and expands and intensifies it. However, to adequately include the perspective of post-socialist Central Eastern Europe, the focus is not only on the exchange between academics and policymakers but on the broad involvement of these countries’ citizens. A particular focus is civil society and its actors, artists and cultural workers. In cooperation with the trade unions, exchanges take place between employees of various companies and industries from Eastern Germany and Eastern European countries.

Jena is already intertwined in many ways with surrounding cities and towns. The Future Centre directly builds on this collaboration. Thus, on the one hand, the different effects and experiences of the system break of 1989/1991 are already reflected at the Future Centre’s location: The dismantling of industrial cores and infrastructure as well as emigration have affected the regions of Eastern Germany to different degrees and therefore have a more intensive impact in different places. On the other hand, the Jena region has several important and exciting cooperation partners: For example, the International Building Exhibition Thuringia in Apolda, the location of the Federal Agency for Civic Education in Gera or the Buchenwald Memorial near Weimar.

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