• Think. Order. Form. Forwards.

    Bold ideas for the future

What is Think. Order. Form. Forwards?

Alfred Herrhausen was renowned across the world for being an insightful and fearless thinker, going far beyond national borders and calling for business enterprises to assume social responsibility. He was as passionate about supporting social causes as he was about developing business interests.

Herrhausen opposed all restrictions on free thought. Time and time again, he openly reflected on issues that only very few of his contemporaries broached. These ranged from debt relief for developing countries, transparency, working for the community, personal initiative and responsibility, right through to the question of how large organisations can remain open, authentic and dynamic: Herrhausen stands for a body of thought, which is of central societal interest today more than ever.

With the project “Think. Order. Form. Forwards”, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft facilitates a dialogue between his positions and ideas and contemporary thinking, and thus, enables conveying their meaningful role in our 21st century’s society.

Why Think. Order. Form. Forwards?

The uncertainty of the future can be best met with a maximum of intellectual freedom and flexibility, as Alfred Herrhausen said. His concern was an unsparing analysis of the established, with the aim to develop new solutions for societal challenges based thereupon.

The project Think. Order. Form. Forwards transfers Alfred Herrhausen’s visionary ideas into the present and reveals how these values and beliefs can shape the future of our society. Think. Order. Form. Forwards contributes to Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft’s mission to actively promote a free and open society and its cohesion.

How does Think. Order. Form. Forwards work?

Think. Order. Form. Forwards combines brilliant minds, key issues and current debates, considering issues like the social market economy, democracy, progress and work, entrepreneurship, education and European and international politics. The works of Alfred Herrhausen serve as impulse and driving force: They provide the origin and starting point for a new way of thinking and initiate debates without a horizon in time. As results of the project, different formats were developed and are now published (German only). For further details, please refer to the project website.

We focus on the following topics:

Show content of 1 Human-centric economy


The economy exists for people. But is the individual still the focus in our social market economy? Are there better alternatives? Renowned experts share their views on these pressing issues.

Show content of 2 No power without responsibility

No_power_without_responsibilityThe balance of global power is in a constant flux. How can we deal with the might of Asian countries? What solutions are there for the transatlantic fault lines? How can we create peace in a complex world? This chapter explores how we should deal with these changing structures and dynamics.

Show content of 3 Relearning how to learn

Relearning_how_to_learnHow are we preparing our children for the demands of a globalised and digitalised world? How are we dealing with the new technologies that are revolutionising our lives? Education researchers and labour market experts discuss the future of learning and work.

Show content of 4 Democracy in our hands

Democracy_in_our_handsHuman dignity shall be inviolable. This principle is enshrined in the German Basic Law. But how can we safeguard the achievements of our democracy at a time when populism and far-right politics are making a resurgence? One thing is clear: democracy is precious and we must all live it every day.

Show content of 5 Our future - Europe

Sixty years after it was founded, the European Union finds itself in the middle of a great upheaval. Brexit, a shift to the right and the still-unsolved Eurozone crisis are only three of the challenges it faces.

What would a more successful collaboration look like?

Show content of 6 A question of culture

A_question_of_cultureArt functions as a corrective in our society: it provides inspiration, builds bridges and holds up a mirror to ourselves. In view of the current challenges, how do creative artists see their role? How can art and culture make a positive contribution?

Show content of 7 Read more - Alfred Herrhausen’s thoughts


An economy in harmony with the environment, a common Europe as an opportunity for the continent and international policies that work for society as a whole: these were all themes Alfred Herrhausen engaged with in the 1970s and 1980s.

As we read his thoughts, it becomes clear that the questions he grappled with are more relevant than ever.

The contributors to this project are:

Show content of Abiola-Costello, Hafsat


Hafsat Abiola-Costello is a Nigerian human and civil rights campaigner. She was appointed executive president of Women in Africa Initiative in 2018.

Show content of Chen, Dingding


Dingding Chen is a Chinese professor of international relations at Jinan University in Guangzhou. His main areas of research are Chinese (foreign) policy, Asian security policy and human rights.

Show content of Enderlein, Henrik


Henrik Enderlein is a German economist and political scientist. He is president and professor of political economy at the Hertie School in Berlin. He is also director of the Jacques Delors Centre, a Berlin-based think tank.

Show content of Feldner, Denise


Denise Feldner is a commercial lawyer and research manager from Berlin. She publishes regularly on the latest technology-related issues and analyses the impact of digital technology on society. Her areas of expertise include internet governance and the strategic application of artificial intelligence.

Show content of Fischer, Heiko


Heiko Fischer is co-founder of the management technology company Resourceful Humans. He is known as a pioneer of the network organisation structure and an advocate of more social responsibility for businesses.

Show content of Foroutan, Naika


Naika Foroutan is professor of integration research and social policy at the Humboldt University of Berlin. She is also the director of the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research. Her main research topics include religious and social diversity in pluralist democracies.

Show content of Gorbachev, Mikhail


Mikhail Gorbachev was president of the Soviet Union until 1991. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for the key role he played in the disarmament negotiations with the USA and thereby in ending the Cold War.

Show content of Guérot, Ulrike


Ulrike Guérot is professor of European policy and the study of democracy at Danube University Krems and the founder of the European Democracy Lab. Her research focuses on Europe, and the future of European democracy in particular.

Show content of Herrhausen, Anna


Anna Herrhausen is a German political scientist and executive director of the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft in Berlin. She is Alfred Herrhausen’s daughter.

Show content of Hüther, Gerald


Gerald Hüther is a German neurobiologist and emeritus professor at the University of Göttingen. He is one of the world’s best known neuroscientists, the author of several best selling books and co-founder of the Academy for Potential Development (Akademie für Potentialentfaltung).

Show content of Jentzsch, Nicola


Nicola Jentzsch is an economist. Until recently she was head of the Data Economy Project at the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung think tank in Berlin. Jentzsch campaigns for a new data frugality.

Show content of Khanna, Parag


Parag Khanna is an Indian-American political scientist. The bestselling author and speaker is an internationally recognised expert on globalisation and geopolitics.

Show content of Kissinger, Henry

Henry Kissinger was the US Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977. The German-American politician was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the part he played in ending the Vietnam War. Kissinger lives in the USA and continues to be a presence on the political stage as an advisor.

Show content of Klaws, Marlen

Marlen Klaws and her team at Forever Day One conduct research on the future of work and education. In 2018, the political scientist travelled around the world for a documentary film project – the result was the five-part web series New Work.

Show content of Lipski, Roman

Roman Lipski is a Polish-born artist who now lives in Berlin. He was one of the first artists to incorporate artificial intelligence into his creative process, and he makes an important contribution to the future of painting.

Show content of Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger is a legal scholar at the Oxford Internet Institute. One of the main focus areas of the institute’s research is the social impact of the internet, and its goal is to stimulate political and technological debates. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger became a member of the German Government’s Digital Council in August 2018.

Show content of Mudde, Cas

Cas Mudde is a Dutch political scientist. He currently works at the University of Georgia in the USA, teaching and conducting research on the growth of populism and extremism. He also works for the Centre for Research on Extremism at the University of Oslo.

Show content of Murtfeld, Martin

Martin Murtfeld was an associate of Alfred Herrhausen. He was a member of the Financial Institutions executive board at Deutsche Bank. Prior to that he worked at KfW (Credit Institute for Reconstruction), and was later appointed First Vice Governor of the Council of Europe Development Bank in Paris.

Show content of Ndikung, Bonaventure

Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung is an independent curator, author and biotechnologist. He is the founder and artistic director of SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin. He was curator-at-large for the documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel, and is the artistic director of the twelfth edition of Rencontres de Bamako.

Show content of Oertel, Janka

Janka Oertel is a German political scientist and sinologist. She is a Transatlantic Fellow in the Asia programme of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, with China being a particular focus of her work.

Show content of Paech, Niko

Niko Paech is a German economist. He teaches and conducts research at the University of Siegen, and is a leading expert on sustainability and the no-growth economy.

Show content of Posener, Alan

Alan Posener is a politics and society correspondent for Die Welt newspaper. Prior to becoming a journalist and author, he worked as a teacher at a comprehensive school in Berlin.

Show content of Rasfeld, Margret

Margret Rasfeld was the principal of the Evangelische Schule Berlin Zentrum until 2016. She co-founded the Schule im Aufbruch (Schools in Transformation) initiative, which aims to bring about fundamental reform to the education system.

Show content of Schleicher, Andreas

Andreas Schleicher is a German education researcher and statistician. He is the director of the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills. He has been the chief co-ordinator of the PISA studies since 1995, playing a key part in the conception and implementation of the programme.

Show content of Singer, Tania

Tania Singer is the scientific head of the Max Planck’s Social Neuroscience research group in Berlin. With an interdisciplinary research approach, she investigates the neuronal and developmental bases of human social behaviour and emotions such as empathy and fairness.

Show content of Stelzenmüller, Constanze

Constanze Stelzenmüller is a political scientist, lawyer and commentator. An expert on German, European and transatlantic foreign and security policy, she works as a senior fellow for the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, D.C.

Show content of Straubhaar, Thomas

Thomas Straubhaar is a Swiss-German economist and professor of international economic relations at the University of Hamburg. He sees unconditional universal basic income as a possible solution for the welfare state in the digital age.

Show content of Stuchtey, Martin R.

Martin R. Stuchtey is professor of resource strategies and management at Innsbruck University, and the founder of the company SYSTEMIQ. He is keen to design industrial supply systems using nature as a model: renewable, circular, resilient.

Show content of Sullivan, Jake

Jake Sullivan was the national security advisor to Joe Biden, the Vice President under Barack Obama and presidential candidate in this year’s election, and was also deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton during her time as Secretary of State. The political scientist and jurist is currently working in the academic field, holding various positions including faculty member at the University of New Hampshire.

Show content of Thiele, Heinz Hermann

Heinz Hermann Thiele was the majority owner and honorary chairman of the Knorr-Bremse AG supervisory board. An encounter with Alfred Herrhausen led to a decisive turn in his career and ultimately to a long-standing friendship between the businessman and the Deutsche Bank board spokesman.

Show content of Tressel, Jamila

Jamila Tressel completed her Abitur (high school diploma) at the Evangelische Schule Berlin Zentrum. She is active with the Schule im Aufbruch (Schools in Transformation) reform initiative, which was founded by her former school principal Margret Rasfeld. When she was 14 years old, she expressed her frustration with the conventional school system by writing a book. She is now keen to help bring about fundamental change to German classrooms.

Show content of Winkler, Heinrich August

Heinrich August Winkler is an emeritus professor of history at the Humboldt University of Berlin. His books on the Weimar Republic and the history of the West are regarded as definitive works in their fields.

Show content of Wolf, Ronja

Ronja Wolf is Martin Stuchtey’s co-author.

Media Library (only in German)

  • Heinz Hermann Thiele talks to Anna Herrhausen

  • Work should create a sense of purpose – Heiko Fischer

  • Parag Khanna talks about Asia’s new positioning as a global power

  • Dingding Chen speaks about Europe’s mediating role in US/China relations

  • The vision of a European Republic – Ulrike Guérot

  • Exploring and shaping the future of education

  • Exploring and shaping the future of education – part 2

  • Colonial power structures are still in effect today - Bonaventure Ndikung

  • Man and machine create a new style in art - Roman Lipski

Current activities "Free Thinking"