The American Academy in Berlin was founded in 1994 at the initiative of Richard Holbrooke, then the American ambassador to Germany. Independent, nonpartisan, and privately funded, the American Academy in Berlin is committed to sustaining and enhancing 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 roughly 20 semester-long Berlin Prize fellowships to outstanding scholars, writers, and artists from the United States. Fellows, who come from the humanities, social sciences, public policy, and the arts, pursue independent projects in a residential community at the Hans Arnhold Center, a historic villa on Lake Wannsee. They share their work with German colleagues and audiences at lectures, readings, discussions, concerts, and film screenings, which form the core of the Academy’s rich program of public events.
In addition, the Academy fosters greater understanding and dialogue on current issues by hosting Distinguished Visitors—influential figures from the United States in public policy, law, business, finance, journalism, the humanities, and the arts. During their visits of a few days to a few weeks, they engage with the public and their professional counterparts in Berlin and throughout Germany.
In a similar vein, the Richard C. Holbrooke Fellowship and Workshop 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 to solving some of the world’s most intractable problems. The forum is conducted as an ongoing series of international workshops with experts from law, foreign and public policy, and academia.
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.”
“The American Academy in Berlin symbolizes the new era based on intellectual rather than military ties.”
– Henry A. Kissinger
“The American Academy provides an enormously rich intellectual experience; it is a vital and vibrant link between the American and German peoples.”
-Thomas L. Friedman
“I could not imagine a better place to establish and strengthen transatlantic friendship and intellectual ties.”
– Mathias Döpfner, CEO Axel Springer
“The American Academy has contributed more to a vibrant transatlantic relationship than any other institution in Germany.”
– Amb. Wolfgang Ischinger
“There is no better opportunity to work and understand, anywhere.”
– Lawrence Lessig, Harvard University
“One ends an evening at the American Academy feeling the variety and depth of current intellectual life.”
– Helen Vendler, Harvard University
“A convivial setting for interaction with colleagues in different disciplines who draw one another out in ways that cannot be foreseen.”
– Hal Foster, Princeton University
“It is difficult to imagine a more inspirational, daring, and rewarding place to engage the mind than the salon on the Wannsee.”
– The Washington Post