The third internal session on March 1 was extremely useful for planning, mapping, and regrouping after the Fellows had received feedback on their memos from a number of governmental and non-governmental actors. Fellows were able to assess the state of their memo and policy recommendations and edit them to be more relevant, concise, and realistic.
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This session began with an extended debate and discussion on the benefits of merging various group memos. It was argued that many of the groups had written on topics that intertwined, and came to extremely similar conclusions. For example, it was argued that the “Defense” group should merge with “Immigration” and “Climate,” because these three topics converge on a number of societal and structural levels. Furthermore, the “Populism” group saw that their topic affected the problems highlighted by every other group.
This is when we decided to partially reformat the Action Plan itself. We decided the document should include an introduction in order to thematically blend our memos, and present our ideas with a sense of continuity and a shared theme. The after an executive summary, the document introduction will include insights on:
-The role of subnational actors is discussed in each memo
-The proliferation of outside actors
-Looking forward with Trump & a new German government
Several Fellows agreed to take on the task of editing the document for grammatical and rhetorical continuity and compile a concluding memo. This concluding memo will bring together all the insights of the memos and promote the themes outlined throughout the document.
Each group was then given five minutes to present their memo to the group, after which we would decide which memos should be joined. The joining of various memos to create a comprehensive security memo proved to be more difficult than previously assumed. For example, one Fellow reminded the group that including “immigration” into the security memo suggests that immigrants are inherently dangerous. Furthermore there was a larger discussion on the role of climate and security, and even a debate on what constituted comprehensive security.
We decided the memos should be as follows:
We then decided that, instead of keeping a “Populism” group, there would be a wider, thematic discussion of the effects of populism within all of the policy memos and the Action Plan itself. We also collectively decided that Fellows would be members of one group, not of multiple groups as had been previously the case. This ensured that Fellows were able to focus their efforts on the quality and relevance of one memo, thereby elevating the caliber of all the memos.