Call for Applications: Laboratories of Democracy Initiative 2023/2024
The Laboratories of Democracy Initiative brings together German, Canadian and U.S. state legislators to facilitate a values-based discussion and an exchange of ideas about how to tackle shared policy challenges on the subnational level. Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote about the power of states as the “laboratory of democracy,” where new and innovative policy approaches can be tested. This project draws on that notion, focusing on the role of state legislators in creating policy solutions and fostering transatlantic relations in times when national governments are dominated by political polarization and crisis management.
“Cooperation and collaboration are absolutely essential as we work to meet the many challenges we face in the 21st century. As a legislator and leader, Laboratories of Democracy has afforded me a unique opportunity to connect with counterparts across the Atlantic.” (Hanna Gallo (D), President pro Tempore of the State Senate of Rhode Island, Cohort 2023.)
The Program 2024
In addition to questions of state leadership, subnational diplomacy, and transatlantic cooperation, the fourth round of exchanges will focus, in particular, on the core issue of critical infrastructure. Global shifts and crises, including natural disasters, pandemics, wars, and the ongoing digitization with an elevated risk of cyberattacks, underscore the urgency of safeguarding critical infrastructure. The threats to energy security, healthcare, and transportation routes among other highlight their significance. Through transatlantic collaboration, sustainable security can be achieved, ensuring the preservation and reinforcement of critical infrastructure – the foundation of our prosperity. To address these issues, the project provides a platform for exchanging innovative ideas and best practices that are necessary to develop long-term strategies and sustainable growth trajectories to positively shape policy-making and mitigate negative effects.
The project will give participants the opportunity to engage with peers and other experts from across the Atlantic and build new transatlantic networks. Participants will learn more about policies and practices in each other’s countries, conduct site visits to see best practices and innovative solutions on the ground, and explore opportunities for transatlantic collaboration. All costs for participation will be covered by the project.
In-person and virtual programming will include:
- Interactive virtual sessions between January and August 2024
- Two 5-day in-person meetings (travel time included) in Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany from March 12 to 16, 2024, and in Austin, Texas, from June 11 to 15, 2024
- Collaboration on a joint publication to include multipartisan policy recommendations for the state level and for transatlantic cooperation, to be released in September 2024
“The cross-national and cross-party exchange about similar challenges and opportunities in Germany and the USA is important to me in order to get to know new approaches and perspectives and to contribute our ideas. As part of this transatlantic delegation, I would like to maintain dialogue and strengthen the German-American network.” (Romina Plonsker (CDU), Member of the State Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, Cohort 2023.)
Eligibility and Application Process
Applicants for this exchange program must:
- be German, Canadian or U.S. state legislators (open to members of all U.S. states, Canadian provinces and territories, and German Länder),
- be able to actively participate in all components of the virtual and in-person exchange,
- be willing to participate in the development and publication of multipartisan policy recommendations,
- have an interest in transatlantic exchange and the topic of critical infrastructure and
- have sufficient knowledge of English.
Interested state legislators are asked to send a CV or resume by email to Emilie Schreier at
email@example.com, to apply to be a part of this unique transatlantic exchange. Promising applicants will be asked to participate in a short Zoom or phone interview to discuss motivation and expectations for the program. From each nationality, ten participants will be selected on the basis of their interest, background, availability, and suitability for the program.
The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany, funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).