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Video Discussions

The spread of COVID-19 and the ensuing global lock-down as governments try to slow the spread of the corona virus has tested individuals and institutions around the world. Since March of 2020, the ACG has stepped up its digital programming by hosting webinars and video discussions which bring together policy makers and thought leaders from both sides of the Atlantic to discuss some of the key issues shaping transatlantic relations in an unprecedented time. In addition to organizing events on its own, the ACG has also partnered with other organizations such as 1014 and Atlantik-Brücke to launch new series designed to reach beyond the ACG community.

There are a number of important issues on the transatlantic agenda. And, yet the relevance of the partnership between the United States and Germany has been called into question in recent years. From defense spending and the proposed U.S. military drawdown, to transatlantic trade and investment, to relations with other countries such as China and Russia, the German-American relationship has been charged. With the German presidency of the European Council, what can we expect for the transatlantic relationship in the months and years to come? On Tuesday, August 11, the ACG hosted a webinar with Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), Senior Member of House Committee on Armed Services, and Bundestag Member Dr. Tobias Lindner (Die Grüne), Spokesman for Security Policy, Chairman of the Defense Committee; and moderated by Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook, Executive Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and Executive Director of The Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship at the Harvard Kennedy School and Co-Director of the ACG’s Eric M. Warburg Chapter in Boston.


Virtually every aspect of life has changed due to the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps one of the hardest hit industries is travel. Global stay-at-home orders and travel bans have drastically cut domestic and international travel. As some areas of the world begin to reopen, airlines and hotels begin to set in place new precautions to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. On August 10, the ACG hosted a webinar with Frank Naeve, Vice President of Sales for the Americas for Lufthansa, who discussed what COVID-19 means for the airline industry today and in the future.

Cities that were built on iron, steel, and coal have had to overcome deep economic challenges and structural changes in recent decades. Both Dortmund and Pittsburgh have rebuilt themselves as thriving metropolises. However, the spread of COVID-19 is forcing cities to confront a new set of challenges. On August 7, the ACG hosted a second webinar with William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, and Ullrich Sierau, Mayor of Dortmund, who provided an update on how their cities have developed sustainable strategies to meet the challenges of structural change, a public health crisis, and diversity and inclusion in their communities – and how they are preparing for the future.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced the drawdown of nearly 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany. This decision will have a significant impact on the security of Europe – and has the potential to change the dynamic of the German-American partnership. On August 3 the ACG hosted a webinar with the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Deputy Foreign Editor, Paul-Anton Krüger, on the implications of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany.

The United States and Europe have shared interests when it comes to developing an approach to China and this realization may now gain traction through a new initiative, the EU-US Dialogue on China agreed to by Secretary Pompeo and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell. On July 30, the American Council on Germany and the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society hosted a conversation on the United States, Europe, and China with Dr. Melanie Hart, Senior Fellow and Director of China Policy at the Center for American Progress; Dr. Mikko Huotari, Executive Director of the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS); and, Dr. Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society.

There is no doubt that the coronavirus crisis has had public health and economic implications on the federal, state, and local levels in Germany – and the United States. As communities on both sides of the Atlantic try to move back to normalcy, on July 29, the ACG and the Hanns Seidel Foundation are delighted to host a conversation with Michael Chertoff, Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee ReOpen DC, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Co-Founder & Executive Chairman of The Chertoff Group, and Dr. Florian Herrmann, Chair of the Bavarian Corona Crisis Task Force, Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery, and State Minister for Federal and European Affairs and Media, and moderated by Ann Marie Hauser (2007 ACG Young Leader), Vice President for Public Affairs at The Hudson Institute.

After days and nights of negotiations at the longest EU Summit in 20 years, European leaders announced that they had reached agreement regarding a $857 billion pandemic recovery plan. Leaving perhaps her final mark on the European Union, Chancellor Angela Merkel was instrumental in achieving European consensus regarding this new plan. On July 23, the ACG hosted a discussion with Steven Erlanger, Chief Diplomatic Correspondent in Europe for the New York Times, who discussed what the recovery plan means for the EU and for Chancellor Merkel’s legacy.

Under the auspices of Deutschlandjahr USA 2018/19, the American Council on Germany and the Heidelberg University Association partnered to hold a series of in-person “Heidelberg Lectures.” Over the next few months, we plan to continue this collaboration in an online format as part of WunderbarTogether 2020.

On July 17, the first Heidelberg Lecture took place with Prof. Dr. Welf Werner – who serves as the Director of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies – on “Fighting Unemployment during the Corona Crisis: A Transatlantic Perspective.”

Journalism and the media play an indispensable role in democracies – especially in times of crisis. On July 14, the ACG and 1014 hosted a conversation with Sewell Chan (2014 ACG Young Leader), Editorial Page Editor for the Los Angeles Times, and Anna Sauerbrey (2018 ACG Kellen Fellow), Opinion Page Editor for Der Tagesspiegel and monthly contributor to the New York Times, on the challenges facing the media in Europe and the United States during the pandemic.

Individuals, communities, and countries have all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – and the private sector is facing its own set of challenges. On July 8, the ACG hosted a special briefing with two ACG Board members to learn how global multinational companies have been affected by the coronavirus crisis. Wayne T. Smith is CEO and Chairman of BASF Corporation and has been a member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE since 2012. Julie Linn Teigland is EY’s Managing Partner for the EMEIA region (Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa) and EY Global Leader – Women. Fast forward.

Social distancing requirements have abruptly put a halt to most cultural events. While museums and libraries in some communities in the United States and in Europe slowly start to re-open, concerts, performances, and many other cultural events are being cancelled for the rest of the year. On July 7, the ACG and 1014 hosted a virtual discussion with Elke Buhr, Chief Editor of Monopol, Germany’s largest contemporary art magazine, and Adrian Ellis, Chairman of the Global Cultural Districts Network and Founder/Director of AEA Consulting, on the unique challenges facing the arts and culture in this unprecedented time.

On July 1, Germany assumed the six-month rotating Presidency of the European Council. Germany takes on this role at a critical juncture for the European Union. The public health and economic implications of the corona crisis, Brexit and European cohesion, and the state of the transatlantic relationship are only some of the issues on the agenda. What is expected of Germany in 2020? This ACG hosted a discussion about Germany and the future of Europe with Dr. Ulrike Guérot, Head of the Department for European Policy and the Study of Democracy at the Danube University in Krems (Austria) and the founder of the European Democracy Lab in Berlin.

The corona crisis is affecting almost every aspect of civil society. It is having an impact on individuals, families, and organizations – with long-lasting reverberations for the institutions that shape civil society. Against the backdrop of simultaneous public health and economic crises, there are demands for greater social equity. What does civil society need to address the current challenges? How can institutions and practices adapt to best serve their communities? Practitioners and experts from Germany and the United States will take on these and other questions. On June 30, the ACG and 1014 hosted a video discussion with Brian Gallagher, President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way Worldwide, and Dr. Andreas Rickert, Founder and CEO of PHINEO.

COVID19 revealed weaknesses in the digital infrastructure of both the United States and Germany; including lack of broadband internet, access to computers, and basic technology skills. On Friday, June 26, hosted a conversation about digitalization and cities – during and after the pandemic. Drawing on alumni from ACG programs, speakers include Sunanna Chand, Vice President of Systems Reinvention at Teach for America, Bruce Clark, Executive Director at Digital Charlotte; and Devin Dienes, Project Manager at Digitalstadt Darmstadt.

The corona crisis demonstrates that nature ultimately cannot be controlled. It does not negotiate, nor does it abide by the rules of maximizing economic benefits. Climate change has long been on the global agenda – but it has not been taken seriously by everyone. Does the current moment provide an opportunity to address environmental concerns in a new way or does the pandemic make it more difficult to meet the challenges of climate change? On June 23, the ACG and 1014 hosted a discussion with Dr. Claudia Kemfert, Professor of Energy Economics and Sustainability at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and head of the Energy, Transportation, and Environment Department at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), and Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, on the impact of the pandemic on climate and environmental policy as well as how recovery funds can be used to push for a green transition in the United States and Europe.

In a period of unbelievable levels of uncertainty, one thing is for sure: Global supply chains will not be the same. After the economic shut-down caused by the pandemic, on-shoring and economic protectionism will recalibrate logistics and economic supply chains for years to come. On June 22, the ACG and the RBFAA hosted a discussion with Jill Meiburg (Bosch Fellow 1997-98), Senior Vice President, Sustainability Communications & Programs at Deutsche Post DHL Group, and Ian Bolin (CBYX for Young Professionals 1997-98), Partner – Mobility & Automotive Practice at Egon Zehnder, on the future of the global economy and these important issues. Moderated by Jennifer Clinton, President and CEO of Cultural Vistas.

The Trump administration recently announced a new cap on U.S. forces based in Germany which will result in a reduction of 9,500 troops. The decision was made within the context of the ongoing transatlantic debates about NATO defense spending by individual members and evolving security threat perceptions. Does this move strengthen or weaken the United States, and how does it impact NATO and transatlantic relations? To gain some security perspective on this issue, on June 17, the ACG hosted a webinar with Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis and former Commanding General, United States Army Europe, and Dr. Claudia Major, Head of the International Security Research Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).

The combined public health and economic crises have exacerbated social inequity in our societies. Social injustice and police brutality have led to widespread protests and unrest. From essential workers risking their lives on minimum wage to poor living conditions to inadequate access to health care and the digital world, we must right many existing wrongs in the United States and in Europe. On June 15, the ACG and 1014 hosted German sociologist Prof. Dr. Jutta Allmendinger and American community leader Bill Strickland on how to heal and preserve the fabric of our communities. This event was held with support from the Thomas Mann House.

It has been more than three months since the first lockdown measures were introduced in the United States, and many states and communities are now in the process of reopening. The precautions have helped flatten the curve, but the coronavirus is still spreading at home and around the globe. COVID-19 will continue to spread until a vaccine has been found. On June 11, the ACG hosted a virtual discussion with Dr. Kathrin U. Jansen, Senior Vice President and Head of Vaccine Research and Development for Pfizer Inc.

Political leaders are currently confronted with a host of evolving geopolitical challenges that includes relations with China, questions being raised about the importance and effectiveness of multilateral organizations and international collaboration, the future of transatlantic cooperation, and U.S. and German leadership in world affairs, amongst many others. Dr. Torrey Taussig (Bosch Fellow 2018-19) moderates a conversation with Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger (ACG Young Leader 1980) and Denis McDonough (Bosch Fellow 1999-2000) about these challenges – and how to meet them.

Over the past two weeks, protests have erupted across the United States following the killing by police of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis. Racial injustice has long been an issue for civil rights activists, but it also has a national security dimension. Against the backdrop of racial injustice and inequality at home, on June 9, the ACG hosted a virtual discussion on “Racial Injustice and National Security” with Bishop Garrison (2017 ACG Young Leader), Director of National Security Outreach at Human Rights First, President and Co-Founder of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy, and former Defense and Homeland Security Official under the Obama Administration.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined forces in proposing a 500 billion euro EU recovery fund to help respond to the corona virus crisis. If other EU member states agree to the plan, it would be an important step forward for a more unified Europe – and it might bring the bloc closer together rather than fracturing it. But, the proposal is not without controversy. On Friday, May 29, the ACG hosted a webinar with Bundestag member Metin Hakverdi (SPD) who discussed the plans to help the EU recovery from COVID-19.

For the fifth session of Resilience and Adaption, on May 26, the ACG and 1014 hosted a discussion with Nina Lemmens and Daniela Kaisth on the ways in which civil society is coping with the current crisis and how the philanthropic community is responding.

Seemingly over night, education changed as restrictions related to COVID-19 went into effect. On May 22, the ACG hosted a webinar how the coronavirus has changed schooling on both sides of the Atlantic. Speakers included Susana O’Daniel, Director of Public Affairs for the Arkansas Education Association; Daniela Schneckenburger, Commissioner of the Department for School, Youth, and Family for the City of Dortmund; and Laura Ward, Vice President of Talent Development, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.


As part of the virtual 2020 German-American Conference, on May 21, the ACG and Atlantik-Bruecke hosted a discussion with Ambassador Boris Ruge, Vice-Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, and Gregory F. Treverton, Professor of the Practice of International Relations and Spatial Sciences at the University of Southern California and former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, discussed whether or not we could have anticipated this pandemic with Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller, Kissinger Chair on Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress and a Senior Fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, many businesses have closed. Many people are working from home – but not everyone is able to do so. An almost complete lock-down has magnified existing social inequalities and the digital divide. On May 19, the ACG hosted a discussion with thought leaders in the fields of digitalization and AI Gesche Joost, Professor for Design Research at the Berlin University of the Arts, and Mona Sloane of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, discussed the benefits and barriers created through digitalization in this unprecedented time. This event was held in partnership with 1014.

Federal, state, and local governments are having to manage the potential trade-off between individual freedoms and the greater good as they manage an unprecedented public health and public safety crisis. On May 18, the ACG and the RBFAA hosted a discussion with Caroline Fredrickson, Senior Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, and Arnd Henze, editor and reporter with WDR, on how to balance these interests in a conversation moderated by Cordell Carter, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Program.

As lockdown restrictions begin the lift, cities are faced with a new set of challenges. On May 15, the ACG hosted a discussion with William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, and Ullrich Sierau, Lord Mayor of Dortmund, on how their cities have coped with the pandemic – and how they are preparing for the future.

The international community has been faced with an unprecedented health and economic crisis in recent months. While global leadership seems to be divided by political differences and is struggling to find common ground, restrictions due to COVID-19 are still in place. In light of these challenges, our guests will explore possible coping strategies for the Western alliance. On May 14, the ACG and Atlantik-Bruecke hosted a discussion with Omid Nouripour, Foreign Policy Spokesperson of the Green Parliamentary Group, German Bundestag; Member of the Board, Atlantik-Brücke, and Ambassador Victoria Nuland, former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. State Department; Senior Counselor, Albright Stonebridge Group. This event was part of the 2020 Virtual German-American Conference.

The current pandemic has slowed the global economy. It has exposed the interdependence inherent in global supply chains. Will things snap back when the concerns over the virus subside? On May 12, the ACG and 1014 hosted a discussion with with Thorsten Benner, Co-Founder and Director of the Global Public Policy Institute, and Shannon O’Neil, Vice President, Deputy Director of Studies, and Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On May 8, the ACG hosted a conversation about the future of mobility and transportation in cities – during and after the pandemic. Drawing on alumni from ACG programs, speakers include Laurin Spoetro, Public Policy Planner for Uber Germany; Jana Kugoth, Mobility and Transportation Reporter for Der Tagesspiegel; Brandie Lockhart, Director of Urban Design for Houston Metro; and Jesse Mintz-Roth, the Vision Zero Program Manager for the Department Transportation in San Jose, CA.

On May 7, the ACG hosted a discussion with German Ambassador to the United States Emily M. Haber and Ambassador John B. Emerson, ACG Chairman and former American Ambassador to Germany. This discussion was held in partnership with the World Affairs Councils of American as part of CxC: Amplified.

Are autocracies better positioned to fight pandemics than democracies? On May 6, the ACG and 1014 hosted a conversation with American political scientist and author Francis Fukuyama and Daniela Schwarzer, Director of the German Council on Foreign Relations, discussed how the current crisis is handled by different regimes.

The pandemic is the main topic in the news on both sides of the Atlantic – and indeed around the world. Citizens everywhere rely on the media to get critical information, as well as to ensure that leaders are being held accountable in how they address the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak. How does coverage compare and differ in Germany and the United States? On May 4, the ACG and the Robert Bosch Fellowship Alumni Association hosted a discussion with Sumi Somaskanda from DW News and Daniel Lippman from Politico on the role of the media in a pandemic.

On April 30, the ACG hosted a Hot Topics Call (video edition) with Emily Schultheis, Fellow at the Institute for Current World Affairs and American freelance journalist based in Berlin. She discussed the impact of the pandemic on Europe’s far right parties, and on Germany in particular.

The pandemic is challenging democratic institutions and practices all around the world. Governments have an obligation to respect the basic rights of citizens in uncertain times – but are they? On April 28, the ACG and 1014 hosted a discussion with Stefan Kornelius, Foreign Editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung,  and ACG Young Leader alumna Dr. Kori Schake, Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, on how democracies respond to this unprecedented crisis.

On Friday, April 24, hosted a discussion with representatives from Cleveland, Heidelberg, Knoxville, and Leipzig on the impact of COVID-19 on cities in Germany and the United States. Speakers include Tobias David, Chief of Staff for the Lord Mayor, City of Leipzig; Blaine Griffin, City Council Member, City of Cleveland; Irmintraud Jost, Head of Higher Education and Research Department, City of Heidelberg; and Stephanie Welch, Deputy to the Mayor and Chief of Economic and Community Development, City of Knoxville.

On April 22, the American Council on Germany and Atlantik-Brücke hosted a discussion with Professor Dr. Andreas Dombret, Global Senior Advisor at Oliver Wyman and former Board Member of Deutsche Bundesbank; Sigmar Gabriel, former Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister; and ACG Board member Dr. John Lipsky, Distinguished Scholar at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies and former First Managing Director of the IMF.

On April 16, the ACG hosted a Hot Topics Call with Bundestag Member Peter Beyer (CDU), who also serves as Coordinator for Transatlantic Cooperation in the German Federal Foreign Office, discussed the transatlantic partnership during – and after – the coronavirus.

On April 14, the ACG hosted a discussion with Dr. Evelyn Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, and Sarah Pagung, Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations’ Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia, who discussed Russia’s involvement of the spread of disinformation during the coronavirus crisis.

On April 9, 2020, the American Council on Germany and Atlantik-Brücke hosted a video discussion with the Chairmen of the two organizations – Ambassador John B. Emerson and Sigmar Gabriel, and moderated by journalist Juliane Schaeuble. In conversation, they discussed the national and international responses to COVID-19, the future of multilateralism and globalization, as well as domestic politics in this unprecedented and uncertain time.