Bringing research into the classroom: Discussing identity and integration with high school students in Berlin

Students writing their initial thoughts to the question “Is Germany a country of immigration?”

This month, we conducted our first high school workshop about migration and integration research as part of the “Forschung trifft Schule” (“Research meets school”) workshop series with English class students from the ‘Gymnasium am Europasportpark’ high school in Berlin.

In collaboration with the researcher Julia Stier (WZB), we focused on the topic of Germany as an immigration country. Through group discussions, a film screening, and small group activities, the students exchanged their ideas about immigration, integration, and identity in Germany and learned more about academic research and public perceptions on these topics.

Students and Julia Stier (WZB) during the small group discussions

We kicked the workshop off with an ice breaker that asked the students to share their first association with the word “migration”. The answers ranged widely, from “war”, “help”, and “better living conditions” to “melting pot”, “multiculturalism”, and “diversity”. From there we looked at questions more specific to the German context, such as “What does it mean to be German?” and “Is Germany an immigration country?”.

Following these interactive openers, the students watched three Migration Matters videos about integration and diversity in Germany and Europe more broadly: Who Gets to be German? and You Can Become a German, but Can You Become a ‘Real’ German? with Dr. Naika Foroutan from our Rethinking Integration and Diversity series, and I am from here from our I Am European series.

Students watch a Migration Matters video featuring Prof. Dr. Naika Foroutan

They were then divided into small groups to reflect on the earlier topics discussed with these new ideas and perspectives presented in the videos from people with migration backgrounds, academics and the public. A larger discussion followed with input from researcher Julia Stier and Migration Matters Co-Founder Sophia Burton, and to close the workshop, an activity with a focus on future outlook and what concrete actions we can take to make Germany a more inclusive country.

The “Research meets school – new perspectives on migration and integration” workshop series aims to broaden and strengthen students’ understanding of current migration and diversity issues through workshops and digital storytelling. It is supported by the Friends of the WZB (Social Science Center Berlin) as part of the project “WZB Wirkt” and by the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung (LPB).

From left to right: Sophia Burton (Migration Matters, Katrin Rehfeld (GESP), Julia Stier (WZB)

A big thank you to the students for their participation and their teacher Katrin Rehfeld and Gymnasium am Europasportpark for having us! If you’re interested in holding a workshop for your students, reach out to us at team[at]

All Migration Matters videos are freely available on YouTube and can be used for non-commercial purposes such as school workshops, trainings, conferences, and similar events. Reach out to us at team[at] with any questions.