Professor Dr Ulrich Reinhardt

Professor Dr Ulrich Reinhardt, born in 1970, is the Scientific Head at the BAT-Foundation for Future Studies and holds a professorship for empirical future research at the University of applied science Westcoast / Heide.

He completed his studies in educational science and psychology at the University of Hamburg in 1999 and joined what was then the BAT Leisure Research Institute as a PhD student. He subsequently occupied a number of different positions in the Institute before  he became an Executive Board Member of the BAT Foundation in 2007. Four years later he succeeded Professor Dr Horst W. Opaschowski as Scientific Head of the foundation.

Interview with Prof. Dr. Ulrich Reinhardt

‘There is no future without a past’ is one of the Foundation’s principles. What does that mean?

Our research approach is based on time series and comparative values. This means that we ask a representative cross section of the population the same questions again and again and use this information to identify trends and prepare reliable forecasts. One key finding that is repeated almost every time in our time series research is that citizens change their behaviour very slowly and remain true to themselves. New possibilities and opportunities do not automatically lead to a change in behaviour.

The Foundation’s work has focused on Germany for more than 30 years. What has caused you to break with this tradition and to expand the research field to Europe?

One of the reasons is that increasing globalisation and Europeanisation now has a much stronger influence on life in Germany than it did in the past. We want to stay abreast of these changes. Secondly, I am a committed European. I therefore believe in the opportunities arising from, and need for, a closer continent.

Your predecessor – Professor Dr Horst W. Opaschowski – was the face of the Foundation for three decades. What advice did he give you?

I had the great fortune and honour to be able to work alongside Professor Dr Opaschowski for more than ten years and to learn from him. During this time, he gradually handed over research areas and responsibility to me, and at the same time always encouraged me to develop my own research fields. The confidence and the knowledge that he passed on to me provided me with the optimum opportunity to successfully continue his work in the Foundation.

Taking a look into the future, where do you see the Foundation?

People will still be at the heart of our research in the future – their behaviours, needs, desires, fears and hopes. The Foundation has been committed to researching these areas and to drawing the correct conclusions for more than 30 years. We will remain true to this principle in the future also.
We will continue to study the traditional Foundation areas of interest such as leisure and tourism, education and work, and to research various sociodemographic groups such as young people, women and senior citizens. However, we will also examine new subject areas. This means that, based on our European research, we will certainly be directing our gaze overseas and addressing global comparative studies.