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News | Freedom is the first choice

Bosch gives a forum journalists in exile

Developments at Robert Bosch Stiftung

For journalists in exile who have fled from dictatorships and warzones, the right to free elections is an important accomplishment in the fight for freedom and against repression. Ahead of the German federal election on September 24, Robert Bosch Stiftung, the German daily newspaper Tagesspiegel, and Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung cooperated to organize a special lecture series that focused on freedom. Over the course of workshops, journalists who fled from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan discussed the topics of freedom, democracy, and self-determination. Their contributions were subsequently published in a special section of the Tagesspiegel entitled “We Choose Freedom”.

Jamal Ali (Foto: Doris Klaas)

 

"I am free when I don’t have to justify who I am. When I came to Germany, I felt totally free; I was euphoric. I came straight from prison straight to Berlin. Sometimes I feel that my freedom is compromised because I have to justify why I am here. I want to feel accepted, or at the very least tolerated."

Jamal Ali (30, Azerbaijan, in Germany since 2012) works for Meydan TV, the broadcaster by Azerbaijanis in exile. He is also a trainee at ALEX Berlin. In his article, he describes the status of journalists in his home country and the influence of oil imports on European foreign policy.

 

Negin Behkam (Foto: Doris Klaas)


"What does freedom mean to me? That I am no longer obliged to wear the hijab in public. Or that I don’t need to worry about going to jail for expressing my opinion. Of course, I have more freedom in Germany than in Iran. But my fight for freedom continues here. I would like this society to perceive me as an individual one day, and not only as a representative of the country I fled from, and of a religion that I was oppressed by."

Negin Behkam (33, Iran) has been in Berlin since 2011, where she works for the “Amal, Berlin!” news platform. Her article addresses the political system in Iran and the debate about the dominant German culture.

Mustafa Aldabbas (Foto: Kitty Kleist-Heinrich)


"For me, freedom means having the possibility of writing freely as a journalist, and of openly expressing criticism without running the risk of being censored or placed on a black list. As a gay man, freedom means being able to be open about my sexuality without worrying that I could be discriminated against, tortured, or even killed. Freedom is about being protected by laws that provide me with the same rights and responsibilities as any other citizen. Ultimately, everyone defines freedom differently, and yet we must all be committed to defending it."

Mustafa Ahmad Aldabbas (30, Syria) came to Germany in 2015. A freelance journalist, his article focuses on the way in which homosexuality is viewed in Arab countries and in Germany.

 

The “We Choose Freedom” project is part of Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Migration, Integration, Participation initiative, which aims to actively promote and shape cultural and religious diversity in Germany. 

More information about the “We Choose Freedom” project and all the corresponding articles can be found here: Link

Interview | “Sustainable use of our resources is of existential importance”

An Interview with Christof Bosch, grandson of Robert Bosch

Developments at Robert Bosch Stiftung

Dr. Christof Bosch, 58, grandson of Robert Bosch, chairman of the Robert Bosch Foundation board of trustees and forester, manages a farm with approximately a hundred cattle in the alpine foothills of Bavaria. In an interview with Julia Rommel he explains that sustainability is a matter of our priorities – and why it is essential for health, education and peace.

 

 

In view of major global challenges such as war and terror worldwide, it seems almost a luxury to address the problem of sustainability. Is the subject a luxury in your opinion?

Christof Bosch:  It is a fact that we are increasingly reaching the limits of our natural resources for meeting people’s needs. Sustainable use of our resources is therefore of existential importance. However, we often take only an interest in ‘soft factors’ of sustainability, such as the aesthetics of the landscape, once we meet our basic needs. But securing those basic needs in the long term is precisely the main goal of sustainability. Only from our relatively comfortable vantage point can it look as if sustainability is a luxury problem.

 

What role does technology play in sustainability?

C. Bosch: The question of sustainability first arises due to technological progress. The subject only arose once people started to interfere with nature, for example, by farming or developing weapons that could be used to exterminate animals. And the process continues at an increasingly rapid pace. As interference with the biosphere increases due to technical progress and technology, it becomes more and more important to consider the sustainability of that interference. Technology is only useful when it does not destroy our livelihoods. However, every land usage system is technical, whether traditional or ultramodern, which is why each sustainability problem can only be solved with the help of technology.

 

Sustainability is often set in opposition to technology ...

C. Bosch: It is a common misunderstanding that sustainability is synonymous with maintaining the status quo. This cannot be the case, because we live in an evolving world in which the only constant is change. As a result, sustainability has to adapt to evolving conditions. If we were to attempt to bring technological progress to a halt, global population growth would nevertheless remain extremely unsustainable for many years to come. The goal is therefore to shape development rather than impede it. It is true that our use of the biosphere is changing faster and faster, but change has been the case ever since human development began. Even hunter-gatherers did not really have a sustainable lifestyle, because they lost their nutritional resources in many areas due to overhunting.

 

Many people have the feeling that sustainable behavior primarily means giving things up, for example, driving cars less often or eating less meat. How can this impression be overcome?

C. Bosch: This is obviously only the case for a society that lives in abundance. And upon closer examination it becomes clear that this way of thinking concerns individual purchasing decisions. If I want to take a trip around the world and can afford it, then I will actually take the trip. By contrast, there are other goods that can only be owned collectively. If, for example, I buy a new heater that causes less air pollution rather than traveling the world, I do not automatically receive the clean air I helped make possible. I only get it when other people do the same thing. It’s only because we fail to consider how our decisions affect society as a whole that we get the impression that sustainable behavior is a question of giving things up. The real question is what is more important to me.

 

Read the rest of the interview in the sustainability magazine of the Robert Bosch Foundation. For the online magazine and PDF version click here.

News | Yallah! Young Muslims volunteer

Robert Bosch Stiftung promotes volunteerism among young Muslims in Germany

 

Developments at Robert Bosch Stiftung

 

Within the framework of the “Yallah!” program, young Muslim volunteers aim to provide insights into their religion and initiate a dialog with non-Muslims. In March, 20 participants met for a two-day conference in Berlin, at which they shared ideas and learned more about fundraising, press work, and organizational development.

 

Yallah! Young Muslim Volunteering

 

One of them is Yasser Haji Mohamad from Aleppo, Syria. He has lived in Mötzingen, southern Germany, for more than a year. “We have to talk more about Islam,” says the 19-year-old, who would like to study medicine in Germany. To this end, together with his friend Mehmet Arslan, he stared a “mobile dialog tent” in which Muslims can talk about Islam in German with one another. Non-Muslims can also take a quiz to find out more about the religion. Visitors to the tent have shown a great deal of interest and curiosity. “They want to know why we fast and ask questions about the role of women,” says Yasser. To him, painting a positive image of Islam is very important.

 

Hafssa El-Bouhamouchi, a 24-year-old from Bielefed, would also like people to gain a better understanding of her religion. With her team from the Hanover chapter of Muslimische Jugend in Deutschland e.V. (young Muslims in Germany), she has organized the “Tea Time” event series, which which sees Muslims invite non-Muslims for a cup of tea. The series has received funding from the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs. “Muslims must take ownership of the discourse about Islam once again,” says El-Bouhamouchi, who holds a degree in Islamic Studies. “We must speak up and help eliminate prejudice.”

 

Robert Bosch Stiftung supports the project within the framework of its “Yallah! Junge Muslime engagieren sich” (Young Muslims Volunteer) program, which funds projects and initiatives of young Muslims who want to make a difference in their surroundings. The selected projects receive 5,000 euros in funding. In addition, the Stiftung invites project representatives to take part in a two-day project management seminar, during which they learn skills in writing funding applications, fund management, and public relations.

 

More information on “Yallah!” can be found here.

 

Information for people who would like to apply for financial support from Robert Bosch Stiftung for their projects can be found here.