Blue Shield International will be running a Workshop at the Conference: “Coping with Culture: Culture in times of geo-political challenges”, November 11 – 14, 2019, Hamburg

Please see the conference details below to submit an abstract to the workshop. Our workshop is intended to be highly practical, including site visits, developing delegates ability to plan in order to protect cultural property in the event of armed conflict. The workshop is open to heritage professionals and armed forces, and is intended to develop civil-military relations in the field of cultural property property, encouraging closer working relationships to lead to better CPP in armed conflicts.

“Coping with Culture: Culture in times of geo-political challenges”

November 11 – 14, 2019, Hamburg

Call for Workshop Abstracts

After eight successful conferences, the Command and Staff College of the German Armed Forces (host), Engagement Global and the Centre for Leadership Development and Civic Education are pleased to announce this year`s conference “Coping with Culture”. The conference offers an international network for participants from politics, civil society, military and the scientific community. The topic of this year`s conference will be “Culture in times of geo-political challenges”.

Within politics and academia, the current crisis of the liberal order is much debated and found at two levels: Pressure is coming from inside liberal democracies, where populist politicians are pushing back against open borders and open societies. But it is also coming from the outside. Due to illiberal presidents, (re-)armament efforts and military manoeuvers, international security relationships are under pressure. As a result, in European countries, national and collective defense rhetoric are on the rise again while the era of substantial military engagement in peace operations appears to have come to an end. It seems that armed forces are no longer upheld for, but rather against something. The aim of the conference is to discuss the relevance of culture in relation to this paradigmatic change and the possible consequences when culture will no longer be seen as a ‘key competence’ for the military.
Debating these questions will be the focus of this year’s conference.

The organizers invite prospective presenters to submit an abstract for a 5 minute input speech (TED talk style) on any Workshop themes. The proposal should include a brief description of the input speech/TED talk for whatever workshop you feel qualified (up to 300 words). Please add the title of the contribution, a short vita and the institutional affiliation of the presenter.

Submission: The deadline for submission is 07 July 2019.  (All authors will receive a notification of acceptance by 26 July 2019)

Contact: Abstracts can be submitted via: [email protected] (Prof. Dr. Dagmar Bussiek)


Workshop 1: Cultural education at military academies

Prof. Dr. Kjetil Enstad, Norwegian Defense University College, Oslo

In Western military organizations the emphasis on the role of culture in operations ebbs and flows in pace with the level of engagement in complex, international operations. The missions in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 is a case in point, where the initial surge in efforts to understand how culture affects military campaigns, has gradually been replaced by a renewed emphasis on conventional warfare as troops have been withdrawn.  Syllabi and educational programmes at military academies are naturally impacted by such changes in emphasis. However, military academies prepare officers for life-long careers, not just the current missions, and thus the development of cultural competence in budding officers is a constant element in officer training. This workshop will address questions and discuss the challenges related to cultural education at military academies. Questions raised may include, but are limited to, the following: What are the best practices when it comes to teaching culture in military academies? How does a general cultural competence prepare for mission-specific factors? How can civilian cultural expertise and traditional academic disciplines find resonance in the practices of the military profession?


Workshop 2: Civil-military cooperation

Dr. Christian Braun, Engagement Global, Hamburg

Bringing together Civil and Military Culture – Opportunities and Boundaries

The comprehensive approach states that development agencies and the military should work closer together in the field mission in order to be more effective. However the relationship between military and civil society is still overshadowed by skepticism and stereotypes. In the workshop we will take a closer look at the predominant stereotypes in order to develop mechanisms how these stereotypes can be countered through Engagement Global`s education work with military and civil personnel.


Workshop 3: The proactive protection of cultural heritage – Hamburg’s World Heritage Site

Dr. Emma Cunliffe, Newcastle University, UK

This workshop will be facilitated by a team of cultural property protection specialists who will assist participating delegates develop their ability to plan in order to protect cultural property in the event of armed conflict. It is designed to provide an exercise environment in which both military and civilian practitioners can work collaboratively towards this aim.

It will take advantage of NATO’s evolving doctrinal thinking, exercise experience over the previous two years, as well as civilian best practice. Delegates attending this workshop will work in small syndicates, each of which will be presented with a threat scenario and the assigned task to plan to safeguard the large number of nominated cultural heritage sites in Hamburg. Rather than focussing on a specific location, the exercise will consider the World Heritage Site in central Hamburg as an example of a ‘centre containing monuments’.


Workshop 4: Diversity and gender in military operations

Prof. Dr. Rikke Haukegaard, Institute for the Study of Military History, Culture and War, Copenhagen

This workshop will be facilitated by a team of the Danish and German military and scientific community. Often Gender is a kind of a Black Box and its understanding and realization suffers from a lack of knowledge and more often from a different understanding and perspectives.

The introduction of the latest scientific research results from Denmark and Germany will show the different perspectives. We will discuss perspectives and the implications they might have in the development of future military gender training.


Workshop 5: Cultural identity in times of social transition

Dr. Maja Bächler, Bundeswehr Command and Staff College

Social transitions occur at several times during a life-course. Each transition has a different impact on the construction of the cultural identity of an individual. Seeming societal certainties are challenged by the rise of populist movements; conjuring up scenarios of threat wherever one looks, as much as processes of digitalization, globalization and – as a consequence – migration. The combination of these changes generate feelings of social and/or societal transitions.
In this workshop, we will discuss aspects of cultural relativism and social constructivism in regard to the construction of cultural identities. We will also engage with the experience that identities feel real, and that they have factual consequences, which are impacted by identity politics. We will seek to understand when social transitions are experienced as trivial and /or exceptional. In consequence we will analyse the impact of these changes on the construction of cultural identities and identity politics. Ultimately, we will seek to understand if cultural identities within the realms of the military community are being affected by the same transitions as within the surrounding societies or if we need a different set of approaches to understand this specific domain.


Workshop 6: Coping with culture in missions abroad: West Africa

Bettina Kircher, Consultant Conflict- and Development Management, Koblenz

International interventions such as bilateral operations, UN Peacekeeping missions, military interventions of NATO forces, EU CSDP missions (Common Security and Defence Policy) as well as humanitarian emergency operations, even when directed under impartial and neutral banners do have a political impact. Especially missions mandated with reforming the Security and Justice Sector (SSR) or to disarm and re-integrate ex-combatants (DDR) are targeting in the long run social change in one way or another in order to reach sustainable and locally owned results. At the same time local culture, norms and values are decidedly difficult to be dealt with in a gender-sensitive way. Yet often Western blue print solutions are imposed on countries experiencing armed conflict or emerging from conflict while one-size-fits-all-prescriptions are cultural–insensitive and often biased.

This workshop looks closer at challenges, lessons identified and perspectives of international missions regarding cultural sensitivity with a regional focus on West Africa.


Conference Program

Day 1, November 11 Monday
10.00 – 12.30 Arrival, check-in at hotel and conference registration
14.00 – 14.30 Welcome and Opening Remarks, Commander General Kohl
14.30 – 16.00 Plenary Key Note Speech State Secretary (requested), Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
16.00 – 16.30 Coffee Break
16.30 – 18.00 Start of Workshops, parallel sessions
18.00 – 20.00 Ice breaker / Welcome Reception

Day 2, November 12 Tuesday
09.00 – 10.30 Concurrent sessions, workshops
10.30 – 11.00 Coffee Break
11.00 – 12.30 Plenary Key Note Speech Major General Sollfrank, Chief of Staff, High Command of the Army
12.30 – 13.30 Lunch break, cafeteria
13.30 – 14.30 The FüAk as a historical place, Colonel Dr. Schmidt
14.30 – 15.00 Coffee Break
15.00 – 17.00 Concurrent sessions, workshops

Day 3, November 13 Wednesday
09.00 – 10.30 Concurrent sessions, workshops
10.30 – 11.00 Coffee Break
11.00 – 12.30 Plenary Key Note Speech Prof. Holmes Eber, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
12.30 – 13.30 Lunch break, cafeteria
13.30 – 15.00 Concurrent sessions, workshops
15.00 – 17.00 Conference tour Hamburg
18.00 – 20.30 Conference Dinner

Day 4, November 14 Thursday
09.00 – 10.00 Concurrent sessions, workshops
10.00 – 10.15 Coffee Break
10.15 – 11.00 Workshop Summaries, Closing Remarks, end of conference


Practical Information

Conference organizers are the German Command and Staff College (host), Engagement Global and the Centre for Leadership Development and Civic Education.

Conference language is English.

Venue: German Command and Staff College, Manteuffelstr. 20, Hamburg, Germany

Practical Information on travel, accommodation and the venue will follow shortly.

Conference fee: € 90,-per person