Germany/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.7 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

Intercultural dialogue in Germany refers both to discussions within the country (with population groups that have an immigrant background), and those at an international level. In the global context, the principal actors and programmes in Germany are those of foreign cultural policy. In addition to the institutions already mentioned in chapter 3.4.2, the following are particularly important: the Goethe Institute, the Institute for Cultural Exchange, the House of Cultures of the World and the Foreign Office and the German National Commission for UNESCO (Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission - DUK). Central to the activities of the DUK, in the last two years, have been debates on the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which included a broad alliance of political and social actors (see chapter 4.1).

Many cultural institutions of various kinds municipalities are committed to intercultural dialogue and have developed numerous programmes and activities. These activities often link intercultural dialogue with people who have an immigrant background living in Germany, with global cultural dialogue, for example, intercultural theatre, music and film festivals or the Carnival of the Cultures, a parade of various ethnic and cultural groups, which takes places on the streets of e.g. Berlin, Bielefeld or Frankfurt.

The Intercultural Council (Interkultureller Rat) was founded in 1994 which brings together people from different background and with different nationalities as well as different societal groups such as labour unions, employers' associations, religious groups, migrant and human rights organisations, municipalities and government branches, representatives from the media, science and sport. The Council initiated round tables and discussion forums and developed and tested pilot projects.

In 2005 an intercultural network Ratschlag Interkultur was established, engaging individuals and institutions. It is coordinated by the Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft e.V. (Association of Cultural Policy) and works together with the Commission of UNESCO in Germany. The main projects of the initiative since 2006 are the federal conferences held biennially and the expert symposiums to discuss theoretical and practical issues. In the autumn of 2012 the 4th nationwide conference "Diversity: Realities, Concepts, Visions" was held in Hamburg. The title emphasises that recently the "diversity approach" has gained more and more significance over the "intercultural approach". The 5th conference 2014 in Mannheim had the title "Moving Homelands" ("Heimaten bewegen").

In 2009 a Round Table on venues on intercultural education was started by the German Arts Council and 7 federal associations on migration. It aims to work out recommendations for intercultural education within the institutions of primary, secondary and third level education as well as in cultural associations.

The first German Islam Conference (Deutsche Islamkonferenz) took place in 2006. It is a forum for dialogue bringing together representatives of the German government and Muslims in Germany. The goal of this long term dialogue is to promote cooperation and social cohesion. During the first phase from 2006 to 2009 principal questions and legal framework conditions were debated. The second phase from 2010 to 2013 focused on their implementation and the establishment of the German Islam Conference in society. Thereby it addressed three topics: establishment of an institutionalised cooperation between the government and Muslims, living gender equality as a common value and prevention of extremism, radicalism and social polarism. During the current legislative period the German Islam Conference continues according to the motto "For a Dialogue between equal partners – from eye to eye lever". Since 2014 main focusses lie on strengthening the Islamic welfare and the social participation as well as on practice of religion and religion related participation.

The "Intercultural Film Award" is awarded by the Institute for Foreign Relations (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, ifa) since 2009 to recognise excellence in content and aesthetics in films dealing with issues of international understanding, peacekeeping and / or intercultural dialogue. These films usually are without German distribution and therefore not available to audiences in Germany.

The Academy of the Arts of the World (Akademie der Künste der Welt) in Cologne opened with the aim of fostering an intercultural dialogue within the arts. It unites artists, musicians, dancers, intellectuals, writers, curators and cultural players from different artistic backgrounds and continents, who work together to develop its programme. In Bochum, another municipality in Northrhine-Westphalia, the Future Academy NRW Intercultur, Cultural Education, City Society (Zukunftsakademie NRW Interkultur, Kulturelle Bildung, Stadtgesellschaft) was founded in 2012. The Future Academy is a platform for discussion and qualification and a practical laboratory for questions regarding the future of city societies in terms of art, intercultural and cultural education.

Additional Resources:

Government's overall approach to intercultural dialogue

Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue

Key Resources


Chapter published: 30-08-2016


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