“For me, working on projects is like dreaming – with your eyes open and in a team.”

Jacob Birkenhäger

What made you decide to work at ifok?

Our society is fragmented and we live in filter bubbles, both online and offline. Democracy depends on the world of policy and politics knowing how to make decisions for us all. ifok is great at bringing people from different backgrounds and filter bubbles together, engaging in discussion with them and getting them to work together to find political solutions. Creating these spaces and discussions is the thing that motivates me.

When did you start at ifok and where were you beforehand? 

I have been at ifok since October 2015. Prior to that, I was in Mainz studying political sciences, philosophy and public law. I gained work experience during my studies at a political foundation, at the German Bundestag, the state chancellery of Rhineland-Palatinate, in ministries and an NGO in South Africa.

What sets you apart at the office? 

No matter which topic, I am focused on developing stringent participation procedures and interactive events. Integrating citizens and connecting our work to the world of politics is especially important to me. That’s a huge challenge and requires a hefty pinch of optimism and creativity. Especially in the early stages, when you’re writing a concept or an offer, working on our projects is a bit like dreaming – but you do it with your eyes open and in a team.

What do you especially like doing in your free time? 

I am involved in the boards of an NGO called Masifunde, and the South African German Network, which are all about collaboration and good education in both countries and enabling participation for young people from difficult circumstances.

What three things can you not live without on your next long train journey?

I like to wear my favorite sweater on longer journeys. Also in my luggage: the paperback edition of Schiller’s The Robbers and a small box of Swedish cookies.

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