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Hertie School announces winners of 20 Years Essay Competition “Okay, Boomer: what will the next generation of policymakers do differently?”

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Students will present their ideas at the Anniversary Forum on 11 June.

As part of the celebrations for the Hertie School’s 20th anniversary, the Hertie School and its student magazine The Governance Post invited students to submit essays looking at the future of public policy. As the Hertie School students of today will be the policymakers of tomorrow, how do they envision the world of public policy in 20 years? Students selected one specific policy or governance challenge and reflected on both past developments and visions for the future.  

The jury consisted of Chairwoman Thurid Hustedt, Dean of Graduate Programmes, Joanna Bryson, Professor of Ethics and Technology, Shubha Kamala Prasad, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Gabriel Rinaldi, alum and reporter for Süddeutsche Zeitung Dossier, and Benjamin Stappenbeck, Director of Communications. Based on creativity, coherence, specificity, and relevance, in addition to formal criteria and style, the jury selected three winning essays.  

The results are as follows: 

1st place: Eden Tadesse (MPP 2025). Essay: “A path to self-sovereign identity, data control, and privacy in displacement camps” 

2nd place: Johann Paetzold (MPP 2024). Essay: “How future policy makers should shape political communication” 

3rd place: David Schäfer (MIA 2025). Essay: “Between fragility and resistance – The need for democratic literacy”

“Our students explored some of the crucial topics of the 21st century, including blockchain-based financial solutions to empower refugees, the importance of political communication in preserving democracy, and the need for democratic literacy. We were impressed by the research, creativity and care that went into crafting these essays,” comments Chairwoman Thurid Hustedt.  

In addition to the three winners selected by our jury, The Governance Post has selected the essay by Yogada Joshi (MPP 2025) as their honorary mention, titled “Take the blame.” "The essay stood out to us because it eloquently explored the theme of individual accountability in shaping society and dismantling societal biases," says Puja Raghavan, Editor-in-Chief of The Governance Post.

In addition to a financial reward, the authors of the three winning essays will have the opportunity to present their ideas at the Hertie School's 20 Years Anniversary Forum on June 11. There they will discuss their thoughts with a panel of experts, including Member of the German Bundestag Norbert Röttgen, Professor of Political Science Francis Fukuyama, and members of the jury. More information and registration for the Anniversary Forum can be found here. 

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