Tübingen and Petrozavodsk- strengthening linkages

The twin cities Petrozavodsk (Karelia, Russian Federation)  and Tübingen (Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany) recently celebrated 25 years of their partnership. There are close relations between the municipal governments, civil societies and citizens, who are engaged in strengthening this vital exchange.


The sculpture “Fishermen”, placed at the Shore of Lake Onega,might symbolize many things, but indeed stands for the power of people working together in order to achieve their goals. In this way, it might also stand for the puropse of a project we set up in October, when we added a new dimension to the partnership between Tübingen and Petrozavodsk.In a joint workshop with social scientists, civil society representatives and representatives of the two municipalities of both cities discussed their perspectives on Participation, Civil society and local politics. This workshop was funded by the German Academic Exchange Service and took place in Petrozavodsk from 25 to 29 October 2016.

The workshop brought together more than thirty researchers and practitioners in the area of citizen participation, NGOs and state-society-realtions. It aimed at deepening the ties between actors from both cities as well as at exchanging knowledge and discussing future joint projects. In four sessions, the participants discussed topics as:

  • Social Innovation, Participation and the Quality of Life
  • Participation in the implementation of municipal policies
  • Power, State, and Society – research in and insights from sociology and political science
  • Participation in the humanitarian sphere: Experiences of inter-municipal cooperation.


Also, the pariticipants from Tuebingen held open lectures at the Petrozavodsk State University on topics of their work, e.g. on the chances of municipal cooperation, local participation, social innovation and political culture.


One other main part of the workshop was dedicated on projects in civil society aiming at inclusion and participation of citizens. These are the sites where social innovation takes place and where solutions for many problems of everyday life are adressed by citizens, volunteers, professionals and scientists. Therefore we visited social institutions and exchanged experiences with practitioners in the area of healthcare and social work.

The workshop ended in a roundtable discussion where future steps of participation were not only discussed, but fixed. A first step will be a publication presenting the results of the workshop that will be published with Nomos-Publishers. In a second step we will develop a joint research plan and apply for funding for a joint cross-regional and inter-municipal comparative project in the fields of social innovation and participation.

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