The “Leadership for Syria” programme is one of the largest academic (continuing) education programmes currently funded by Germany in long-term foreign policy initiatives. About 200 Syrian students and doctoral researchers, whose studies at German universities are being funded by the German government, are taking part in the programme. In June of 2016, the University of Konstanz received the tender for the accompanying programme.
Under the title of “Leadership for Syria”, the German government provides funding for the training of leaders who can play a role in the future of a hopefully peaceful Syria. Funding for the programme is provided by the German Federal Foreign Office and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) administers the programme. It is part of the German government’s long-term efforts to support the future reconstruction of Syria. Most of the core programme participants are from the natural science, engineering and medical fields. For now, the accompanying programme at the University of Konstanz lasts two semesters. The programme provides training in the field of sociology and is required for all participants. The focus is on promoting democratic social values, sustainable economic policies and personal skills.
Eighteen participating lecturers from the University of Konstanz represent the fields of politics and public administration, economics and psychology. The University of Konstanz’s Akademie für Wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung (AWW) administers the programme funds. The objective of the “Leadership for Syria” programme is to promote the long-term political, social and economic development of Syria after the current civil war has ended. The programme is part of Germany’s political efforts to contribute to a sustainable resolution to the conflict as well as to the country’s reconstruction. Of the 5,000 applicants for the programme, about 200 Syrian students at German universities were selected using an internet-based process including in-person interviews. Applications could be submitted directly from Syria or bordering countries, including, for example refugee camps.
In its application to host the accompanying programme, the University of Konstanz had emphasised that the sustainable promotion of democratic social values does not involve translating Western democratic and legal models to a society devastated by civil war, but rather teaching general qualifications in the fields of leadership, fairness, good governing and administration practices as well as building trust. The University of Konstanz’s courses are taught using e-learning and face-to-face classes in collaboration with the Centre for Technology-Enhanced Learning (ZML) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). A half-dozen consultants with extensive practical experience also support the programme. The objective is to provide training as well as networking opportunities that the programme participants can draw on when they return to Syria.
The “Leadership for Syria” programme is funded to the tune of 10.2 million euros by the German Federal Foreign Office and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) administers the programme. Scholarship recipients are from 49 different university locations. The accompanying programme is offered by the University of Konstanz and led by the political scientist Professor Wolfgang Seibel.