"The Changing World of Work Is Germany an Underdeveloped Country?" This is the title of the anniversary symposium organised by the Heidelberg Business and Culture Club this year. From 8 to 10 May 2003, representatives from the fields of politics, culture, higher education and business will be discussing the problems and future prospects of the German labour market and the socio-cultural and socio-psychological background of the work phenomenon. The event will be taking place under the joint patronage of Thüringen's minister of higher education, research and art, Prof. Dr. Dagmar Schipanski, and former Federal labour minister Walter Riester.
Among the speakers are Cornelia Pieper (secretary-general of Germany's Free Democratic Party), Dr. Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt (judge at the Federal Constitutional Court), Dr. Norbert Bensel (Hartz Commission, German Rail), Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wiegard (chairman of the Wise Men of Business), Dr. Dietmar Bartsch (PDS party), Klaus Methmessel (vice editor-in-chief of the Wirtschaftswoche magazine), Prof. Dr. Dieter Roth (Election Research Group), Wolfgang Münchau (editor-in-chief of Financial Times Germany), Robert Kurz (author of "Black Book on Capitalism"), Klaus J. Jacobs (Jacobs Foundation, Adecco).
Economic relations have gone increasingly international, the world of work is undergoing substantial changes. Both instrumental in and affected by these processes, the human individual is faced by new challenges. Mobility, flexibility, the position of women on the labour market and the special situation of humanities graduates are subjects of enormous potential controversy. Unemployment is a problem that looks like it has come to stay and it divides society into opposing camps.
"Our country needs active commitment to a free and socially-minded society as reflected in the ideas of Ludwig Erhard. We need to look and move forwards" (Lothar Späth). The time is patently ripe for clearly conceived social and economic policies providing plausible solutions not only for the dramatic situation on the labour market but, in a broader perspective, for the problems of Germany as an economic location.
In view of the complex nature of these problems, the organisers propose concentrating on three focal topics. The main concern will be the engagement with the employment problem in Germany, including comparisons with labour market strategies in other countries. In addition, the relationship between human agents and what they create will be the subject of inquiry at a psychological and philosophical level: the working morale of the people in Germany will be subject to analysis. Finally, there will be a look at the future of work, centring on the competitiveness of German employment and economic policies.
The Heidelberg Club intends to display and discuss the multi-faceted nature of the work phenomenon, cast light on problems and indicate long-term prospects for solutions. How can we get our labour market to start functioning again? Lectures, podium discussions and colloquia will serve as a forum for the communication of knowledge and the critical engagement with this complex subject.
The Heidelberg Business and Culture Club is an independent, non-party initiative by students from different disciplines. It was founded in 1988 with the aim of supplementing university education with links to professional practice and interdisciplinary exchange.
For information and registration go to www.hcwk.de or ring 06221/701383.
Inquiries from journalists should be addressed to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317