The American Academy in Berlin was founded in 1994 at the initiative of Richard Holbrooke, then the American ambassador to Germany. Rooted in Berlin, the independent and mainly privately funded institution is committed to maintaining the long-term intellectual, cultural and political ties between the United States and Germany. It does so in three ways.
Each year, the Academy awards two dozen Berlin prize fellowships for a semester each to outstanding scholars, writers, and artists from the United States. Fellows who come from the humanities, social sciences, and arts pursue independent projects in a residential community at the lakeside Villa Arnhold, in Wannsee. The Academy's fellows share their work with German colleagues and with Berlin audiences at the Academy's public lectures, film screenings, concerts, and other events.
In addition, the Academy fosters greater understanding and dialogue on current issues by bringing distinguished visitors to Germany – leading Americans who engage with the German public and German counterparts during short visits.
In a similar vein, the Richard C. Holbrooke Forum was conceived by the American Academy in Berlin as a special remembrance of its founder and his lifelong commitment to applying the tools of diplomacy and statecraft for solving protracted challenges to the well-being of humanity. The Academy conducts the forum as an ongoing series of international workshops with varying experts who address the most intractable and pressing global issues.
Since the Academy opened its doors, in 1998, it has built up an extensive and enduring network in the academic, cultural, political, and corporate communities of the United States and Germany. Its cross-cultural, interdisciplinary environment and creative programming have made the Academy a highly regarded center in Germany and beyond, leading the German newsweekly Der Spiegel to describe the American Academy in Berlin as "the world's most important center for American intellectual life outside the United States."