Our Work
International Academy for Leadership (IAF)

International Seminars and Workshops in Gummersbach
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To support its worldwide project work, the Foundation launched the International Academy for Leaders (IAF) almost three decades ago, a forum and venue for international political dialogue and training. The IAF events, which are conceived in close cooperation with the Foundation's projects abroad, bring together well-known experts and personalities from various subject areas, opinion leaders, committed young liberals and aspiring leaders to discuss international issues in politics, business and science. In this intercontinental, tolerant and free forum, participants share specific experiences and knowledge, develop liberal solutions and propose common approaches to promote intellectual freedom, cultural diversity and global relations.

Thanks to its multicultural reach, the IAF promotes tolerance between cultures, religions and political systems, contributing to conflict prevention and peace. It also strengthens ties on the continents and regions where the Foundation carries out projects. Participants in IAF activities become opinion leaders in their own countries and promote liberal political ideas and solutions.

Seminars and Workshops

For 25 years, the IAF has organised seminars and workshops both at the Theodor Heuss Academy (in Gummersbach) and at other German and European venues. The training and information activities include:

  • two-week seminars for younger leaders;
  • one-week seminars for established leaders;
  • training workshops on skills and methods for counterparts of and colleagues within the Foundation, working on projects abroad;
  • Access to IIDH's 30-day human rights seminar in Strasbourg.

These IAF activities, especially in the context of international visits, strengthen our relationships with politicians, government agency officials, political parties, associations, companies, organisations and projects at home and abroad. The exchange and transfer of knowledge contributes to a holistic dialogue between liberal opinion leaders in Germany, Europe and the FNF project countries. The Theodor Heuss Academy is a political training centre and serves as a place for the exchange of ideas between German and international guests. In addition to the official seminar programmes, it offers numerous opportunities to build networks and personal contacts between individual participants, be they executives, international opinion leaders, former FNF fellows, German liberals as well as politically aware citizens. The Academy has become a valuable source of liberal ideas and has made a significant contribution to the work of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

For 12 days, we were like family. It seemed barriers between cultures, religions, territories had all melted and the fact that we were all human beings possessing the same characteristics of humanity took precedence.

Deepan Kumar Sarkar, Alumni - "Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights", 2016

Topics and Methods

IAF events focus on themes like democracy and development, human and civil rights, education, local politics, civil society participation, political communication, rule of law, private property, market economy and deregulation.
The IAF uses a variety of interactive methods, including role plays, working groups, plenary discussions, debates, dialogues and reporting, to enable participants and target groups to formulate solutions to policy problems. This endeavour includes state-of-the-art presentation and conference facilities, IT equipment and active learning materials.

The International e-Academy has been set up to offer a wide range of blended learning options, i.e. supplementing face-to-face seminars with online modules, as well as online-only seminars and events. In recognition of its innovative e-learning approach, our International E-Academy was awarded the "European E-Learning Award" in 2008.

The e-Academy offers IAF alumni, former fellows, friends and supporters a platform for international exchange and global networking.

International e-Academy


In 2005 the IAF started a new seminar model based on the experience of the online programme of the Foundation’s German education programme: the International e-Academy. It comprises a preparatory online-phase and a face-to-face seminar at the Theodor Heuss Academy in Gummersbach.

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#8 Talking about 25 Years of IAF

#8 Talking about 25 Years of IAF

This year we have been celebrating the 25th anniversary of the IAF and together with its founding director Jörg Dehnert, his successor Birgit Lamm, and the current director of the IAF, Bettina Solinger, we're taking a trip down memory lane and learn how it all started in 1995, what challenges they faced over the years and what makes it all so special at IAF.

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