WHU General

"Digital Social Summit" also Successful in Digital Format

WHU Foundation among the initiators of the event

© Digital Social Summit

The corona crisis has shown: online consultations with the family doctor are suddenly no longer a problem, interactive workshops, language courses, cultural events, fitness training can certainly be attended from your living room, older or disabled people can participate in such events, and online training for the 80+ generation is possible as well.

The initiators of the "Digital Social Summit" (DSS) recognized two years ago that the potential of digital formats and technologies is particularly great in the social and civil society and decided to take action with an event in this area. The summit aims to provide a networking platform for non-profit sector players who want to drive forward and actively shape digitization. The summit’s main questions are: How can civil society organizations make their voice heard and contribute their expertise to the debate on digitization?

Switched to a completely digital format within the short timeframe of a few weeks, the "Digital Social Summit 2020" demonstrated the innovative leap for digitization triggered by COVID-19. In contrast to the physical conference in 2019, this year's digital version offered participants a virtual platform to exchange personal experiences, present best practices, and discuss innovative ideas. More than 1,300 participants were online – almost three times as many as last year. A mix of different formats offered a lot of variety: Keynote speeches, interviews, panels, and interactive workshops. This year's summit focused - unsurprisingly - on the effects of the corona crisis on the digitalization of volunteer work and social work. The participants showed particular interest in digitization concepts that can help to alleviate social isolation in times of a pandemic but also beyond.

In 2019, DSS was initiated by the Stiftung Wissenschaftliche Hochschule für Unternehmensführung (WHU) and a number of renowned institutions: the Baden-Württemberg Stiftung, betterplace lab, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Urban Affairs, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, ZiviZ im Stifterverband, and the Stiftung Bürgermut. WHU was represented not only with its academic expertise on the digitization of civil society, but also with two former students in the group of speakers. In the t3n podcast interview, WHU alumnus Christian Vollmann from www.nebenan.de spoke with editor Stephan Dörner and Kellogg-WHU alumnus Karsten Drath, Managing Partner of "Leadership Choices", advised on the issue of "Resilience & Leadership".

As part of the "Short Bites", a new digital interview format at the Summit, Dr. Peter Kreutter, Director of the WHU Foundation, spoke with various foundation and company representatives, including Rania Al-Khatib, Senior Expert Deutsche Post DHL Group . She gave an impressive account of the voluntary social commitment of more than 100,000 employees of the Group who support charitable projects in their communities as volunteers each year, and described how she initiates and coordinates the commitment digitally.

Interview mit Rania Al-Khatib
Interview mit Hannes Hasenpatt

In another short bites interview, Kreutter spoke with Hannes Hasenpatt, Program Manager at the Körber Foundation in Hamburg. Hasenpatt is responsible for the initiative "Making My City Better", which arose from a cooperation with the Zeitverlag Hamburg, a project that promotes discourse in the neighborhood and collects suggestions for the beautification of the city. The suggestions are concretized and then carried into the political discourse.

The topic of digitization is brought to schools with the "expedition d" experience and learning truck, which the initiators Jan Philipp Schewe and Dr. Orfeas Dintsis presented at the DSS. Since May 2019, the truck has visited 99 schools in Germany and given almost 10,000 pupils a concrete picture of the digital possibilities for their future careers and their immediate living environments. 165 open inquiries attest to the success of the concept.

A direct invitation to the participants was issued by Valerie Mocker, Director of Nesta, the fund for social innovation. She invited all participants to develop innovative digital concepts themselves and thus help shape a better future. "To seize the opportunities offered by digitalization, a new generation of leaders is needed who will go through the world with courage, heart, and an open mind," Mocker is convinced and she encouraged the participants not to be distracted by their ideas.

The next Digital Social Summit will take place in March 2021 at the invitation of the Zeit Stiftung on the premises of Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, a long-standing university partner of WHU.


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