Due to the ongoing pandemic, the MGG Academy took place as a digital programme again in 2021. In the virtual space, too, a strong group identity developed between the participants which will also link them to the MGG network in the future.
In 2021, the Managing Global Governance (MGG) Academy took place online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During the four months of the MGG Academy, a dialogue and training programme facilitated by the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), the participants exchanged about questions of global governance, sustainable development, and international cooperation. At the same time, they developed their competencies further and worked jointly on practice-oriented projects – across the different time zones of their countries of origin, ranging from Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Germany, Mexico to South Africa.
Participant Emmanuel Chauke from South Africa sums up the core idea of the MGG Academy: “For me, diversity in itself is a great learning experience, because we are all different. And although we are divided by geography, language, or even ethnicity, we tend to converge on points we see the same way.”
Social-ecological transformation, climate justice, digitalisation
As in previous years, it was the objective of the digital Academy to support the participants in their role as change agents. Grand sustainability challenges, such as social-ecological transformation, climate justice, or digitalisation were discussed, while at the same time, participants reflected on their own position as change agents in leadership seminars. In joint change maker projects, the participants translated their new learnings into practice.
It is a kudos to DIE that participants perceive their participation in the MGG Academy as highly relevant for their further professional development: „I see lots of links to my own work”, participant Jessica Bayer of Engagement Global states, and participant Blanca Elena Gómez adds: “I am a professor in Mexico. And of course I will integrate all the knowledge I have gotten from MGG”.
Creative learning journey
In order to make the learning journey as attractive as possible, the MGG Academy used a large range of different digital tools, group constellations, creative methods and exchange methods. Bridging the different time zones required an elaborate schedule to allow a comfortable participation of the participants around the globe. Even virtually, a strong bond developed between the participants. Empathy and trust provided a basis for respectful dialogue even on contested topics. Instead of get togethers during lunch breaks, participants got to know each other over virtual coffees, in barcamps, and during online parties.
Digital cooperation may have been a makeshift solution during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it converted the MGG Academy into an even more inclusive programme than before: Participants with small children could take part in the digital MGG Academy without difficulties. A regular guest of honour in this year’s academy was Fátima, born in summer 2021, who followed many conversations on the lap of her mom, Blanca Elena Gómez García. Saransh Sugandh, participant from India, comments: “It’s wonderful that it is actually online!” The digital format allowed for an international experience while participants stayed embedded in their own personal and professional context. Furthermore, external guests could participate without undertaking carbon intensive travels. For example, alumni and partners of the MGG network took part in barcamps and enriched discussions with further perspectives.
Combining the advantages of different formats
Nevertheless, the advantages of a real life MGG Academy in presence are obvious, especially the manifold opportunities of conversations beyond restricted zoom calls; being immersed in Germany and getting in touch with the cultures of the fellow participants. Consequently, the success of the digital MGG Academy requires us to stay innovative in the future and to develop a MGG Academy that combines the best aspects of both the digital as well as the real life programme. It might be an option to have a digital phase that enables inclusive participation of diverse participants and guests around the world; complemented by a presence phase of the MGG Academy in Bonn to enjoy the real life advantages such as the informal exchange over dinner or undertaking study trips through Europe. At the end of this year’s programme, many participants voiced that they would like to engage within the MGG network as alumni, to maintain the dialogue, and to finally meet in person in the near future. Despite of their advantages, digital programmes should not replace in person programmes.
During the official farewell ceremony on 8 December, the digital MGG Academy proved to be a success: While the certificates were handed over virtually, the emotional bonds between the participants became evident in real tears and heart emojis on screen. In her final speech, Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz, Deputy Director of DIE, encouraged the participants to continue along their change maker pathways: “Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; Faith is the courage to dance to it today.”