Episode 106: LGBTQIA+ Inclusion and the Economy

Eric Langenbacher

Senior Fellow; Director, Society, Culture & Politics Program

Dr. Eric Langenbacher is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Society, Culture & Politics Program at AICGS.

Dr. Langenbacher studied in Canada before completing his PhD in Georgetown University’s Government Department in 2002. His research interests include collective memory, political culture, and electoral politics in Germany and Europe. Recent publications include the edited volumes Twilight of the Merkel Era: Power and Politics in Germany after the 2017 Bundestag Election (2019), The Merkel Republic: The 2013 Bundestag Election and its Consequences (2015), Dynamics of Memory and Identity in Contemporary Europe (co-edited with Ruth Wittlinger and Bill Niven, 2013), Power and the Past: Collective Memory and International Relations (co-edited with Yossi Shain, 2010), and From the Bonn to the Berlin Republic: Germany at the Twentieth Anniversary of Unification (co-edited with Jeffrey J. Anderson, 2010). With David Conradt, he is also the author of The German Polity, 10th and 11th edition (2013, 2017).

Dr. Langenbacher remains affiliated with Georgetown University as Teaching Professor and Director of the Honors Program in the Department of Government. He has also taught at George Washington University, Washington College, The University of Navarre, and the Universidad Nacional de General San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has given talks across the world. He was selected Faculty Member of the Year by the School of Foreign Service in 2009 and was awarded a Fulbright grant in 1999-2000 and the Hopper Memorial Fellowship at Georgetown in 2000-2001. Since 2005, he has also been Managing Editor of German Politics and Society, which is housed in Georgetown’s BMW Center for German and European Studies. Dr. Langenbacher has also planned and run dozens of short programs for groups from abroad, as well as for the U.S. Departments of State and Defense on a variety of topics pertaining to American and comparative politics, business, culture, and public policy.



Simon Schütz

German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA)

Simon Schütz works as the head of communication for the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) in Berlin. Before that, he was a Responsible Editor at BILD, covering U.S. politics as well as domestic politics in Germany. In addition, he freelanced for the American National Public Radio (NPR), where he wrote mostly about current developments in Germany.

Simon graduated from Freie Universität in Berlin, with an MA in strategic political communication. He also studied at George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he primarily focused on public diplomacy and campaigning during elections and in Bordeaux, France.

Thomas Haakenson

California College of the Arts

Dr. Thomas O. Haakenson is an Associate Professor and former Associate Provost as well as Special Assistant to the Provost for Faculty Support at California College of the Arts (CCA). Prior to joining the CCA community, he served as Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs as well as Department Chair for Liberal Arts at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In 2021, Haakenson published the monograph Grotesque Visions: The Science of Berlin Dada, which examines the radical avant-garde interventions of certain Berlin Dada artists as they challenged the questionable practices and evidentiary claims of late-19th- and early-20th-century science. His current book projects include the monograph Decolonizing the European Avant-Garde, as well as a collaborative project and series of publications with the title Dada Studies as Countercultural Practice with Brett M. Van Hoesen (University of Nevada Reno) and Kathryn Floyd (Auburn University).

On this episode of The Zeitgeist, guest host Dr. Eric Langenbacher speaks with two participants of the AGI exchange program, “Building LGBTQ+ Communities in Germany and the United States.” Simon Schütz and Thomas Haakenson discuss the cost of discriminating against LGBTQ+ employees and customers, the U.S. and German legal landscape around discrimination, and associations that advocate for and promote LGBTQ+ businesses.

Guest Host

Eric Langenbacher, AGI Senior Fellow; Director, Society, Culture & Politics Program


Thomas Haakenson, Associate Professor and Special Assistant to the Provost for Faculty Support, California College of the Arts; Treasurer, German Studies Association

Simon Schütz, Head of Communication, German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA)

This podcast is part of the project “Building LGBTQ+ Communities in Germany and the United States: Past, Present, and Future” and is generously funded by the Transatlantik-Programm der Bundesrepublik Deutschland aus Mitteln des European Recovery Program (ERP) des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz(BMWK) (Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany with Funds through the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry for Economics and Climate Action (BMWK)).

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.