Press release
Essen, 11/28/2023

The renowned political scientist and conflict researcher Magdalena Kirchner (39) will start as Head of the Europe division at Stiftung Mercator on January 1, 2024. She takes over for Lars Grotewold, who held the position on an interim basis. 

Kirchner’s central task will be bringing the revised strategy of the Europe in the World division to life. Due to multiple global crises and their consequences, her predecessor Grotewold, together with the Europe team, had adapted the division’s three fields of action. The key objective: to make the international reorganization more inclusive. “Europe must redefine its role in the world – and be prepared to learn more about and from others,” says Kirchner. “Overcoming global crises and contributing to a fairer and more inclusive world order is in Europe’s own best interests – I look forward to being able to start at precisely this point with the new strategy for the Europe division.” At the same time, issues of intra-European cohesion and pan-European integration must not be overlooked. 

Grotewold had taken over responsibilities for the European division on an interim basis – in addition to his role as Head of Climate Action. “We would like to thank Lars Grotewold for his great commitment and are delighted to have found such an experienced successor in Magdalena Kirchner,” explains Wolfgang Rohe, Chairman of the Management Board of the non-profit Stiftung Mercator GmbH. “The wars in Ukraine and the Middle East and the climate crisis are enormous challenges – civil society is also called upon to help overcome them.” 

From Asia to America – diverse international experience 

Kirchner was previously Country Director at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Her responsibilities there included Yemen and the Gulf Cooperation Council states, Jordan and Afghanistan, as well as regional climate and energy issues in the Middle East. During this time, she headed the offices in Amman, Sanaa/Aden and Kabul. 

As a Mercator-IPC Fellow and Transatlantic Postdoctoral Fellow in International Relations (TAPIR), she previously conducted research on international crisis management and Turkish, European and transatlantic foreign policy at the Istanbul Policy Center, the RAND Corporation in Washington, D.C., and the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin. Prior to that, she worked at the German Atlantic Society, advised German security authorities and DAX companies on political risks as an expert and analyst, founded the Heidelberg Forum for International Security and was President of the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association Germany. 

Magdalena Kirchner holds a master’s degree in political science and history and a doctorate in political science with a focus on international relations and conflict research from the University of Heidelberg. 



©Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

Dr. Magdalena Kirchner
©Friedrich Ebert Stiftung 



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About Stiftung Mercator
Stiftung Mercator is a private, independent non-profit foundation, whose work isdriven byacademicinsightsand practical project experience. Sinceits founding in1996, it has been advocatingfora society based onsocialsolidarity andbroadparticipation. To this end, itfundsand develops projects that improve opportunities fortheparticipationinand cohesionof societies, many of which areincreasingly diverse. Stiftung Mercator is committed to an open-minded, democratic Europe, a digital transformation of state and societyfoundedon fundamental rights,andsociallyequitableclimate policies. Stiftung Mercator is active in Germanyand other parts ofEurope andtheworld. Ithasa special connection toGermany’sRuhr region, hometoitsfounding family anditsheadquarters.