List of past symposia



33. Heidelberger Symposium, 19. – 21. May 2022

Life is something very special. We know of no other place in the universe where it exists. At the 33rd Heidelberg Symposium, we dared to look together into the future of humanity: How do we have to equip ourselves, where do we have to rethink and where do we have to act now, so that life for all is guaranteed in our world? How can we work for human rights, environmental protection, social justice and peace? Under the motto "überLeben," the 33rd Heidelberg Symposium featured an exchange of ideas on various (over)life strategies - we illuminated the stories of individual human lives, which at first glance may seem unremarkable, as well as the stories of the fates of entire groups.

Patronage: Erik Marquardt Photographer, politician and Member of the European Parliament (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen)

Some participating speakers

  • Prof. Dr. h.c. Christel Bienstein President of the German Professional Association for Nursing Professions (DBfK)
  • Prof. Dr. Lars Castellucci SPD Member of Parliament and Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Internal Affairs
  • Prof. Dr. Isabella Eckerle Director of the Geneva Centre for Novel Viral Diseases
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hegerl Chairman of the Board of the Stiftung Deutsche Depressionshilfe e.V.
  • Olaya Argüeso Pérez Editor-in-chief of the investigative research centre CORRECTIV
  • Dr. Thomas Schäfer former German ambassador to North Korea
  • Andreas Sturm deputy education policy spokesman of the CDU parliamentary group in Baden-Württemberg

Visit archived site (German)


Unruhe bewahren

32. Heidelberger Symposium, 20. – 22. May 2021 (Online)

The 32nd Heidelberg Symposium lived up to its motto in two respects. When the organizing team decided on the theme of Preserving Unrest in 2019, no one could have guessed that it would actually be two very unrestful symposium years. When the Corona crisis threw the world into turmoil in 2020, the Heidelberg Symposium had to be cancelled for the first time in its more than thirty-year history, only to be made up for a year later in a refreshingly different way - this time as an online event.

Patronage: Dr. Ulf Buermeyer Chairman of the Society for Freedom Rights e.V.

Some participating speakers

  • Dr. Marie von Mallinckrodt journalist
  • Prof. Dr. Susanne Baer Federal Constitutional Court Judge
  • Dr. phil. Katja Gentinetta Philosopher
  • Philipp Kölmel Composer
  • Sandra Norak Activist
  • Kathrin Vogler MdB, DIE LINKE

Visit archived site (German)


von WELTen

31. Heidelberger Symposium, 23. – 25. May 2019

Alexander von Humboldt already knew: We have to take a closer look at the world and the different views of it. Because: We are not alone. More than seven and a half billion people live on our planet Earth - each of them in their own world and yet in the same world. Every day we have to keep the balance in our own world and at the same time understand, consider and include the world of the others. In the context of the 31st Heidelberg Symposium, we tried to get to the bottom of this individuality and diversity.

Patronage: Noam Chomsky Emer. Prof. for Linguistics at MIT

Some participating speakers

  • Michael Hartmann Sociologist
  • Helga Kromp-Kolb Professor of Meteorology
  • Matthias Quent Sociologist, political scientist, historian
  • Heike Rauer Director of the Institute of Planetary Research at the German Aerospace Center
  • Markus Eisenbraun Head of the Cybercrime Department at the LKA Baden-Württemberg
  • Franziska Brantner Member of the Bundestag and spokesperson for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, European policy spokesperson for Die Grünen

Visit archived site (German)



30. Heidelberger Symposium, 24. – 26. Mai 2018

In today's world, where increasing complexity and global dynamics obscure the view of crucial interrelationships, Walter Gropius' words are more apt than ever: "Man, in his eternal curiosity, has learned to dissect his world with the scientist's scalpel and in this process has obviously lost his sense of balance and unity". The endangerment of the ecological balance, increasing strains on political relations as well as the cultural and social changes taking place today create the impression that our world is out of balance.

Patronage: Federica Mogherini High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Some participating speakers

  • Jürgen Trittin Bundesminister a.D.
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Fischer Judge at the Federal Supreme Court, retired
  • Prof. Dr. Christoph Butterwegge Political scientist, poverty researcher, candidate for the office of Federal President
  • Dr. Constanze Kurz Spokeswoman of the Chaos Computer Club
  • Dr. Gunter Pleuger Former Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations in New York
  • Prof. Dr. Jan Wörner Director General of ESA

Visit archived site (German)



29. Heidelberger Symposium, 11. – 13. Mai 2017

Every action we take, every daily decision we make, we have to answer for; decisions we have to answer for to ourselves, but also actions towards our fellow human beings. verAntworten, however, contains a second component besides "accountability"... "answers". For just as we are constantly taking responsibility, we are constantly giving and receiving answers that affect our everyday lives, but also answers that can shape our lives.

Patronage: Winfried Kretschmann Prime Minister of the State of Baden-Württemberg

Some participating speakers

Visit archived site (German)



28. Heidelberger Symposium, 19. – 21. Mai 2016

What drives us? What gives us the motivation to keep going? Is it the sense of achievement, the people we love or our own ambition? The answers can be very different - this can make us different from each other, but also create connections to each other.

Patronage: Dr. Gregor Gysi Lawyer, advocate, politician

Some participating speakers

  • Nikolaus Blome Journalist and author. Editor-in-chief of the BILD newspaper
  • Giovanni Cavallini Business Manager
  • Christoph Eichhorn German Ambassador to Estonia
  • Ronny Ziesner Paralympic track and field athlete
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Joachim Funke Psychologist
  • Dr. hc. Gerhard Strate Lawyer and criminal defence lawyer



27. Heidelberger Symposium, 07. – 09. Mai 2015

There is probably nothing that accompanies and determines our everyday life as much as time. We plan, make appointments, organise - in short: structure our lives according to it. But what actually is this time and do we really have less and less of it? What are the perspectives at the moment?

Patronage: Dr. Ursula von der Leyen Federal Minister of Defence

Some participating speakers

  • Nikolaus Brender Journalist, former editor-in-chief of ZDF
  • Dr. Theo Sommer former editor-in-chief and publisher of DIE ZEIT
  • Prof. Dr. Herbert Henzler management consultant
  • Dirk Müller Stockbroker and author



26. Heidelberger Symposium, 08. – 10. Mai 2014

We are surrounded by borders. But do borders constrict us? Or do they give us a foothold? Boundaries are often fluid and must first be explored. How can we therefore overcome boundaries or show them to others?

Patronage: Frank Plasberg Journalist and Moderator

Some participating speakers

  • Ernst Uhrlau former president of the Federal Intelligence Service
  • Jörg Armbruster journalist
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Ernst Messerschmid Professor of Astronautics and Space Stations, former astronaut and Head of the European Astronaut Centre of the ESA
  • Prof. Dr. Paul Kirchhof former Federal Constitutional Court Judge, Senior Professor distinctus University of Heidelberg



25. Heidelberger Symposium, 02. – 04. Mai 2013

Power has many faces and we enter into power structures every day. The question is not whether power is good or evil but rather: What facets of power are there? How does power and powerlessness determine the individual and society?

Patronage: Winfried Kretschmann & Jean-Claude Juncker Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, or Prime Minister of Luxembourg

Some participating speakers

  • Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Papier Constitutional law scholar and former President of the Federal Constitutional Court
  • Prof. Dr. Heiner Flassbeck Economist, former State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance and Chief of Macroeconomics and Development at the United Nations Organisation for World Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva
  • John Kornblum Former American Ambassador, Chairman Lazard & Co. GmbH, Berlin
  • Sir Simon McDonald, KCMG, KCVO British Ambassador to Germany


Mut zur Moral

24. Heidelberger Symposium, 03. – 05. Mai 2012

Morality accompanies us every day without being specifically named. What is the orientation of our society with regard to moral issues?

Patronage: Ulrich Wickert Journalist und Autor

Some participating speakers

  • Henryk M. Broder journalist and author
  • Thilo Bode Managing Director of the consumer protection organisation Foodwatch, former manager at Greenpeace
  • Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul Politician (SPD and former Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development)
  • Günther Nonnenmacher Co-publisher of the FAZ
  • Aiman A. Mazyek Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany
  • Prof. Dr. Reinhard Bettzuege Former Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Belgium, Vice-President of the Federal Academy for Security Policy


Achtung, Freiheit!

23. Heidelberger Symposium, 05. – 07. Mai 2011

Freedom. A term that is familiar to everyone and yet difficult to describe. Is man free? Should the economy be free? What are the new media doing to our freedom? What does freedom mean in other cultures?

Patronage: Martin Walser Schriftsteller

Some participating speakers

  • Wolfgang Huber former chairman of the council of the protestant church in Germany
  • Peter Schaar Federal Commissioner for Data Protection
  • Frido Mann Writer and psychologist
  • Martin Sonneborn Former editor-in-chief of TITANIC, statiricist, politician
  • Prof. Dr. Wolf Singer
  • Prof. Dr. Kurt Biedenkopf Former Minister President of the Free State of Saxony

Concepts before 2011

Former speakers and patrons

(Titles relate to the time of the respective symposium.)

Bartsch, Dietmar
former managing director of the PDS

Beyreuther, Konrad
Director of the Centre for Molecular Biology, University of Heidelberg

Bosbach, Wolfgang
Deputy Chairman of the CDU Parliamentary Group

Bresser, Klaus
Editor-in-Chief of the Second German Television

Broder, Henryk M.
Publicist and author

Brüderle, Rainer
Federal Minister of Economics and Technology

Bubis, Ignatz
President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany

Bullard, Sir Julian
Former British Ambassador to Germany

Däubler-Gmelin, Herta
Former German Federal Minister of Justice

Di Fabio, Udo
Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court

Feld, Lars
Economic Wiseman

Flassbeck, Heiner
Former State Secretary, as well as Chief Economist of the United Nations Organization for World Trade and Development

Fleischhauer, Carl-August
Former judge at the International Court of Justice

Friedman, Michel
Lawyer, publicist, politician and television presenter, former Vice-Chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany

Gadamer, Hans-Georg

Geiger, Hansjörg
Former State Secretary and President of the BND

Geißler, Heiner
Former Federal Minister for Youth, Family and Health

Genscher, Hans-Dietrich
Former Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs

Grünberg, Peter
Nobel Laureate in Physics 2007, Jülich Research Centre

Hassemer, Winfried
Former Vice-President of the Federal Constitutional Court

zur Hausen, Harald
Nobel Laureate in Medicine 2008, former Chairman of the German Cancer Research Center

Hildebrand, Regine
Former Minister of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Women of the State of Brandenburg

Hohmann-Dennhardt, Regine
Judge of the Federal Constitutional Court, former Minister of Justice and Science and the Arts of the State of Hesse

Huber, Wolfgang
Former Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany

Hundt, Dieter
President of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations

Jacobs, Klaus J.
Founder of the Jacobs Suchard Group and the Jacobs Foundation

Juncker, Jean-Claude
President of the European Commission

Kaden, Wolfgang
Former Editor-in-Chief of SPIEGEL

Kinkel, Klaus
Former Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as Vice Chancellor

Kirchhof, Paul
Former Judge of the Federal Constitutional Court

Lammert, Norbert
President of the German Bundestag

Lewalter, Karl Walter
Former German Ambassador and Head of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva

Merz, Friedrich
Former Chairman of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag

Monyer, Hannah
Director of the Department of Clinical Neurobiology, University of Heidelberg

Müntefering, Franz
Former Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs

Naumann, Klaus
Retired General of the Armed Forces, former Inspector General of the German Armed Forces and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee

Nonnenmacher, Günther
Journalist and co-editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Pöttering, Hans-Gert
President of the European Parliament

Quadbeck-Seeger, Hans-Jürgen
Member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE, responsible for research, and President of the German Chemical Society

Riester, Walter
former Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs

Schaar, Peter
Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information

Schäuble, MdB, Wolfgang
Former Federal Minister of the Interior

Scharping, Rudolf
Chairman of the SPD parliamentary group, former Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate

Schavan, Annette
Federal Minister of Education and Research

Schlesinger, Helmut
President of the Deutsche Bundesbank (retired)

Schwan, Gesine
Political scientist and candidate for the office of the Federal President

Schwenker, Burkhard
Managing Director of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants

Solana, Javier
Secretary General of the Council of the EU and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, former Secretary General of NATO

zu Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, Hermann Otto
Vice-President of the German Bundestag and Chairman of the FDP Parliamentary Group

Späth, Lothar
Former Prime Minister of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg

Storbeck, Jürgen
Director of Europol

Stuckrad-Barre, Benjamin

Villalobos, Vernor Muñoz
Professor of Law, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

Walser, Martin
Writer and winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade

Vogel, Bernhard
former Prime Minister of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and the State of Thuringia

Voß, Peter
Director-General of the Southwest Broadcasting Corporation

Weizenbaum, Joseph
Professor of Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

von Weizsäcker, Ernst Ulrich Michael
Co-President of the Club of Rome, former President of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate-Environment-Energy

Westerwelle, Guido
Secretary General of the FDP

Wieczoreck-Zeul, Heidemarie
Former Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development