Can we upgrade our foreign policy toolbox by gathering the views of involved citizens, technological innovators and experts from other disciplines? Can ideas that come out of their everyday experience influence foreign-policy-makers? How can we convey the complexities of German foreign policy? The Open Situation Room (OSR) is a pilot project for exploring these questions.


The OSR can be understood as a contemporary interpretation of the ‘Situation Room’ that US President John F. Kennedy created for discussing acute crisis situations – in 1962. While that situation room was used for gathering government experts, our Open Situation Room brings together experts and practitioners who may come from other fields. In this way, the OSR supplements the classical crisis meeting by providing representatives of other disciplines and viewpoints with a forum to discuss German foreign policy challenges. 

The Design

The OSR is all about participation: 30 people with the broadest possible personal and professional backgrounds are invited to each session. Participants may be neighbourhood social workers or professors emeriti, craftspeople or software developers. Added to them is a high-ranking representative of the German Federal Foreign Office (AA) who presents a challenge to be solved. In a moderated brainstorming session that makes use of various discussion formats, participants freely make suggestions about how to resolve foreign policy dilemmas. Nicola Forster and Annkatrin Kaiser moderate the session. As many solutions as possible are generated in about three hours, and ideas are pooled, filtered and prioritized. Finally, the participants and the AA representative discuss their reasons for and thoughts about the feasibility of the proposals.

Past Open Situation Rooms

The first OSR – ‘Flight and Migration: Challenges for German Foreign Policy’ – addressing the current refugee crisis and efforts to find foreign policy solutions, was held in Essen on 16 November 2015. New ways to improve the situation of refugees in transit countries were discussed with Beate Grzeski, the AA Commissioner for Refugees and Migration.

The second OSR took place on 12 February 2016 in the context of the Munich Security Conference (MSC). Around 45 citizens and MSC experts discussed ‘Syria: What Contribution Can Germany Make to a Political Solution? ’ Dr Thomas Bagger, Head of Policy Planning at the German Federal Foreign Office and Dr Stefanie Babst, Head of Strategic Analysis for the NATO Secretary General and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee provided input and appraised the proposals in a lively and constructive discussion.

The third OSR was held at Impact Hub München on 3 April 2016. With Walter Lindner, the German Ambassador to South Africa, we discussed Africa, ‘A Continent on the Move: The Causes and Consequences of Global Migration’. Many ideas emerged in a lively discussion about German foreign and development policy involvement in the region, with particular regard to combating the consequences of climate change and urbanization.

The fourth Open Situation Room (OSR) was held on 13 June 2016 during Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum in Bonn. With Marian Schuegraf, the German Embassy’s Minister Councillor in Teheran, we discussed ‘How to engage post-sanction Iran?‘ and developed new ideas and solutions. 

Project Partners

The Open Situation Room is a project by Stiftung Mercator in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office.


The application period for the next OSR will be announced soon.


  • Everyone interested in German foreign policy may apply.
  • Most OSR will be held in German. We will announce those in English directly on this page.

  • We are looking for creative problem-solvers from various sectors as well as experts on specific subjects. The format’s success depends on having the most diverse group of participants possible.


There is no Call for Application at the moment. We will inform about all future OSR in English on this page and via facebook.

Dates & Deadlines

The date for the next OSR will be announced soon.

Media & Downloads

Project Partners