By Frederike Kipper
Studying economic and regional policy making in classes such as European Project Management or Building Competitiveness At The Regional And National Level are one thing, but hearing from first-had experience of a practitioner are certainly adding immense value to the classes at Brandt School. For that, students of the First and Second year joined the excursion to the Thuringian Ministry of Economics, Science and Digital Society organized by Hosea Handoyo. Here, they were able to learn more about regional development policies and priorities of the Thuringian Public Administration by the head of the Regional Development Department, Dr. Sabine Awe.
Thuringia faces a multitude of structural problems, many still as the aftermath of the GDR times. The main challenge for the state lies with increasing the productivity and attracting innovative business to Thuringia. And as stressed many times, the state has a lot to offer, but lacks enough public awareness. Many well-educated young graduates, a strong science base, successful clusters and the commitment of the public sector to support regional development are only a few of the positive location factors coming into play. After the presentation, Dr. Awe took the time to answer questions of the audience. Many students had questions about e.g. the viability of the Erfurt airport for the Thuringian infrastructure, about Thuringia’s efforts to engage with global players in Asia or the USA and of course, the role of internationals in Thuringia. Dr. Awe was able to give good inputs to the complicated situation that Thuringia finds itself in and engaged in a lively debate with students – despite the fact that the conversation was held in German. Translations by German Brandt School students helped the group and thus, a fruitful knowledge exchange was possible.
New insights and certainly, a lot of information about the policy challenges and opportunities in Thuringia were the result of this visit. And one thing was very clear – policy making takes time and thinking about solutions does require more than what can be found in a text-book. This visit was certainly an important stepping stone for all participants on their path to become policy analysist and maybe, even policy makers in the future.