Through its conferences, training programmes, scholarships and awards, and publications, the Heinrich Böll Foundation acts from the core recognition that knowledge - especially scientific knowledge - has increasingly become a crucial resource and education the precondition for participation in the public sphere. For the Foundation, this participation in turn includes the ability to take part in social deliberations about the direction and the limits of scientific and technological progress.
To facilitate this in the fields of science and education, the Foundation promotes the broad production and distribution of literary and artistic work in recognition of its role in political education. From the Foundation's perspective, enabling people to perceive works of art and to grasp their meanings and dimensions promotes intellectual development and furthers citizenship and tolerance. The promotion of openness towards other cultures and lifestyles is an integral part of the Foundation's cultural exchange programmes, which involve regularly inviting writers and artists from abroad to stay in Germany for some months.
As a "Green think tank" that is part of the global Green network, the Foundation promotes the development of the Green political movement on all continents. The organisation focuses especially on the broadening and deepening of the European Green movement. The Foundation's initiatives are designed to promote democratic reforms and social innovation, advance ecological policies and sustainable development on a global level, facilitate transfer of knowledge and skills from experts to political actors, and provide a forum for open debate and dialogue between politics, business, academia, and society. One activity the Foundation engages in as a think tank is taking part in conferences and negotiations within the framework of multilateral organisations in order to advocate for and bolster the participation of civil society in politics.
Operating from the assumption that democratisation is a chief tenet of Green politics, the Foundation strives to translate the general notion of democratisation into concrete projects, campaigns, and educational programmes. The Foundation thereby works actively for the development of a political European public. Click here to access a world map with details about specific Foundation initiatives.
The Heinrich Böll Foundation looks at alternatives to the West-German model of a salaried, male, full-time job economy. At conferences and in publications (accessible on the Foundation's website), the organisation compares national models of employment and social policy, explores life- and work styles beyond the market or state, and discusses the potential of employment in the non-profit sector.
The Foundation works to gather resources in the above (and other areas - e.g., ecology and international politics), documenting the history of the Green movement in order to promote research and provide political inspiration. For example, the Archiv Grünes Gedächtnis (which translates as "Green memory archive") collects materials relating to the new social movements and to the German Green Party. This includes documents from federal and regional party headquarters, as well as from the European, German, and regional German parliaments. There is also a collection of posters, recordings, and photographs. Located in Berlin, the archive has a library which is open to the public.
The Foundation trains activists in an effort to enable them to self-organise and participate in political processes. Also, strengthening media - through workshops such as one co-organised by the Institute for Professional Journalists - is a key Foundation focus. Details about all such capacity-building efforts are available on the Foundation's website.
The Foundation's international Petra Kelly Prize has, since 1998, recognised people and civil society organisations for their outstanding achievements in respecting human rights, fostering non-violent conflict resolution, and protecting the environment. The award is endowed with € 10,000, but the Foundation views the awarding as "a political statement. The publicity, financial support, and political recognition related to the award should help to foster the advancement of the awarded person's or group's concern."
The Foundation's programme for undergraduate and PhD students active on socio-political issues both in Germany and abroad is described as more than the provision of education funding. In addition, recipients gain access to a Green network: "The scholarship department can assist you in getting in touch with experts in various fields, friends of the foundation and the regional as well as international offices of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. We support networking between our scholarship holders and provide an intranet platform for them."