Our Focus Topics

New Working Lifetime

We are getting older and older. This is good news because it means we have more time to live our lives! The paradox is that we hardly notice. We rush through our professional careers like we always have done: Education, work, retirement. In the middle of all this, the "rush hour" of life, we combine the raising of children, care and career. All at the same time. And everything else that is important to us – commitment to other activities, or just leisure time – we put off until later.

This could all be quite different, if we would just take the most important promise of demographic change at its word: More "life" time. In the course of our lives, life expectancy has increased by two to three years in each decade. This equates to more than five hours of "gifted" time to live for every single day. Surely there is a better way for us to invest this wealth of time, for ourselves and for society? And to structure our working lifetime quite differently? To work for longer, later in life, but also to be able to take time out earlier on? To learn new things and invest quality time focussing on the family and common welfare?

With its focus on "new working lifetime", the Körber Foundation wishes to promote the disentanglement of our tightly scheduled lifestyles. It confronts people with new ideas and role models, how life, work and time could be combined differently – in a dynamic and self-determined way. It is, after all, gainful employment which determines the rhythm of our lives.

Digital Literacy

Digitisation is the driver of innovation. It not only constantly creates new business models, services and products, but also fundamentally changes the way we learn, work, consume and communicate. In short: how we live.

To manage this radical transformation of society successfully, we need digitally literate citizens. Only people who use this new technology in a competent, creative and responsible manner can take advantage of the opportunities of digital transformation without losing sight of the risks.

With the focus topic Digital Literacy, the Körber Foundation wants to strengthen civil society's powers during this process and to increase public awareness of the requirements of autonomy and civil rights in the digital age. We therefore cooperate with model initiatives for digital education, support exchanges of experience and project transfer in this field and conduct lobby and public relations work on behalf of the topic. In various dialogue formats we discuss, with experts and stakeholders from industry, science, politics and civil society as well as the general public, the rules and values by which we want to live together in the digital age. We should all be involved in deciding on the topic of the kind of society in which we want to live in the future.

Our operational activities, implemented in close cooperation with local partners, concentrate on the Hamburg area. Findings and practical examples from this work are communicated via our nationwide networks.

Russia in Europe

Since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, relations between Russia and the majority of its European neighbours have been in serious crisis. Dialogue and understanding with Russia have been a major part of the Körber Foundation's work over many decades.

We are convinced:

  • that Russia belongs to Europe
  • that many political, social and economic challenges in Europe can only be met together with Russia
  • that it is essential for Russia and the other countries of Europe to continue the path of rapprochement and reconciliation in the context of the historical experiences of the 20th century.

Therefore, with our focus on Russia in Europe, we devote ourselves to the rejuvenation of an open, critical and constructive dialogue between Russia and its European neighbours.

Our topics are the historical roots of current conflicts, questions of identity and values, current challenges of foreign and security policy and perspectives of civil society cooperation. Our partners in this dialogue are social thinkers, (foreign) political decision-makers and multipliers of cross-border understanding. It is especially important for us to involve representatives of the next generation in the exchange.

The goal of our dialogue work is both to identify different perspectives and also to identify similarities. We want to strengthen actors in politics and society who are prepared to build bridges across the borders and divides between cultures. This is our contribution to international understanding with Russia.

read more

Our Areas of Activity

Living Civil Society

Demographic change is one of the major trends that are strongly influencing the way we live together in today's living civil society. Various factors are causing changes in the composition of our population: The birth rate in Germany has been low for several decades. At the same time, life expectancy has increased: Statistically, people today are living approxiely 15 years longer than they did in 1950. And our country has become an immigration country, primarily one for the current influx of refugees. The influence of internal migration upon community life in the countryside and in the city must not be underestimated.

If our society is ageing and its origins and lifestyles are becoming more diverse, what implications does this have for our social interaction? How do we create more social justice? How can we recruit new people for the employment market? Who will look after the interests of others if the population is dwindling? The Körber Foundation addresses such issues with its activities, events and publications – and also encourages people to see the opportunities presented by these changes.

The Foundation itself is also investigating new and constructive solutions in the light of a living civil society: It supports local politics and administration on the path to becoming a demographically strong city and initiates networks for involvement. It promotes the potential of the older generation to employers and presents models for integration and diversity. It promotes citizen participation and brings together civil society, the economy and the state in new alliances. And last but not least, the Körber Foundation operates its own culture and district centre for the participation of the 50 plus generation.


Innovations are prerequisites for the existence and success of modern societies. They ensure their sustainability, form the basis for prosperity and are essential for addressing key problems of humanity.
The Körber foundation therefore explores the conditions and processes under which the new emerges, invests in young talent, honours innovative approaches and shapes the framework conditions for a society open to innovation.

However, innovations are also dependent on a society that is prepared to change and to deal with the new. Because of this the Körber Foundation also considers it important to discuss the opportunities and risks of innovation processes and to promote a climate of critical openness. To this end, the foundation provides platforms: In conferences, publications and expert networks the Körber Foundation drives the debate forward with operational ideas and its own expertise.

Crucial ideas for innovation repeatedly come from the sciences and the arts. In creative trials and inquiring approaches they not only bring about the new, they are also drivers of society's ongoing understanding of itself. The Körber Foundation therefore pays particular attention to them and their associated education and mediation processes. Innovations are dependent on both inventiveness and drive – a combination that proves itself specifically in such diverse projects as STEM education and cultural education.

International Dialogue

Talk with, not about each other!

For over 50 years, the Körber Foundation has been committed to international dialogue and dialogue across political, national and religious boundaries. We help to build bridges to overcome the absence of discussion and to initiate debate.

We strengthen constructive dialogue with dialogue formats, competitions and encounters – open-ended, on equal terms and transparently. In doing so, we focus on diversity and inclusiveness. We shed light on the historical aspects of current conflicts and highlight both civil society and foreign and security policy perspectives for overcoming them. To this end, we examine different identities and promote a culture of mutual recognition in international relations. We sound out the scope for political action and show specific ways of working together. In this way we contribute to the identification of common values and interests and to the building of trust.

Our target groups are social thinkers, (foreign) political decision-makers and multipliers of international dialogue. We place particular emphasis on strengthening the capacity for dialogue of decision-makers in the next generation. We take our programmes around Europe, the Middle East and Asia. We are primarily concerned with Eastern Europe and the role of Russia in the European context, as well as with regional conflicts in the Middle East and the rise of China.

to top