Our Projects

Through original research, we identify pressings issues and create policy recommendations that lead to equitable and sustainable change in our community.

First-Gen Mentorship Program

In the summer of 2021, SHIELD proposed to the Hertie School administration to establish support systems for Hertie students coming from non-academic backgrounds.

The program offers a platform for dialogic education, where first-generation students are given the opportunity to reflect on their study program, learn about the implications of being a graduate student, understand the studying environment and purpose of higher education institutions, and receive orientation throughout their often-demanding study tasks.

Furthermore, it enables opportunities and opens spaces for potential mentors to engage and interact closely with the student community.

African Student Representation at the Hertie School

In the Spring of 2021, SHIELD decided to address the question of how to increase the enrollment and retention of students from the African continent at the Hertie school. To begin answering this question, SHIELD conducted over 17 qualitative interviews with various stakeholders, including with administrative offices of Hertie and other European international universities as well as with Hertie students and alumni from the African continent. Through these interviews, we first learned about Hertie’s current recruitment strategy and explored the reasons for the lack of representation of students from African countries at the school. Next, while talking to current African students and alumni, we gained insights into the challenges they face when applying to Hertie, as well as their general experience at the school. Finally, through our interviews with other international universities, we were able to identify best practices for the recruitment and retention of African students. The qualitative analysis of the interviews conducted will be presented in two different reports. The first one will be geared towards the wider student body while the second will provide specific policy recommendations to the Hertie administration.

Geographical Distribution of Hertie Students

Read the full report here:


Reading List Audit: Fall 2020

In the Fall of 2020, SHIELD audited the 2019 Fall semester to determine the racial and gender diversity of Hertie’s course readings. Across a total of 8 courses, there were a total of 367 reading suggestions. 79.41% of these were male, while 92.78% were white-passing.

We started by gathering syllabi from the previous year (2019) for every required course, for both the MIA and MPP programs at Hertie. SHIELD then went through all of the required and optional readings and identified author characteristics. We chose to examine race and gender. For race, we identified individuals based on the categories “white passing” and “visible POC” so as to judge based on phenotype characteristics – how others likely perceive them. When possible, authors’ university webpages were used to find pictures. Once we had the full list of recorded author characteristics, we summarized each class based on race and gender and then compiled the entire list of first year readings. 

A close-up of a library