Social Divisions and Questions of Identity in Germany and the United States (2021-2022)

Consequences for Politics and Society

An Exchange Outside of the Metropolitan Areas

This three-year project seeks to address divisions in both German and U.S. societies. The project will focus on a number of factors that are underlying the divisions, including social, demographic, economic, geographic, and identity dynamics. This innovative program begins at a time when open communication and compromise have been neglected in many communities where individuals retreat to a space in which they feel most secure. This AICGS program seeks to establish new connections within and between communities by bringing individuals together for an honest exchange of the issues.

Search #AICGSdialogue on Twitter for highlights from the exchange.

Project Description

The project “Social Divisions and Questions of Identity in Germany and the United States” seeks to establish new connections within and between diverse communities by bringing individuals together for an honest exchange of the issues. Participants will address common challenges of diverse communities, including questions of identity and the polarization of societies, with the goal to seek compromise and consensus in overcoming the existing divide. Project participants will be representative of the diverse societies they belong to and be predominantly members of a younger cohort who live in smaller cities and towns in the United States and Germany.  The core group of participants will engage in intensive discussions with each other as well as a broader community of experts and stakeholders with whom they will interact on issues of importance.

The project’s focus is on exchange and communication in order to reconnect people and overcome the existing polarization and divide, both within communities and across borders. During the course of one year, participants will come together for two week-long personal meetings (one in Buffalo, NY, and one in Dortmund, Germany) and continuously engage with each other via electronic means.

About the Program

AICGS has three primary objectives for the program: (1) bring together people who are actively engaged in their communities for dialogue in order to understand current divisions that shape their societies and develop strategies to overcome them; (2) to promote a better understanding of the challenges facing increasingly diverse societies in Germany and the U.S.; and (3) to strengthen the connection between Germany and the U.S., particularly at the local level, and to establish networks between communities.

The project relies on existing German-American sister or partner cities to begin the exchange. Selected cities are located outside of major metropolitan areas and coasts and will be small to medium sized. Small and local communities have been playing an increasingly important role on both sides of the Atlantic in tackling some of the most pressing challenges of the day, including climate change, infrastructure improvement, and workforce development. Activities comprise week-long personal meetings and exchanges in both cities (the United States in the fall; Germany in the spring), as well as virtual group meetings throughout the year. Participants engage with each other as well as local organizations and institutions that are familiar with the issues.

Program Year 2021-2022

September 20 – 25, 2021: Buffalo, New York

March 27 – April 1, 2022: Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia

This program has been postponed in response to the growing challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, dates for this exchange are not yet finalized.

For questions about this project, please contact Susanne Dieper, Director of Programs and Grants, at

This program is generously funded by the Transatlantik-Programm der Bundesrepublik Deutschland aus Mitteln des European Recovery Program (ERP) des Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWi) (Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany with Funds through the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry for Economics and Energy (BMWi)).

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