The Power of (Academic) Networks

13th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities

08 – 09 December 2019, Berlin

 

In today’s increasingly globalized and interconnected world, networks are a common phenomenon. They can assume many different forms: professional networks or private networks, open networks and exclusive networks, personal networks and digital networks, etc. In the digital realm, almost everyone can connect to anybody by a single tap on a screen. In the real world, traditional face-to-face networks, sometimes with strict formal or informal rules on who can and who cannot join, continue to wield considerable influence. This can have both desirable and undesirable consequences.  

Networks can function as powerful amplifiers by connecting individuals with similar values and ideas into a collective. In recent years, the rise of digital “social” networks has put a spotlight on the power of networks and has thus revealed the double-edged nature of this amplifying effect. It has been widely reported how the mechanisms governing social media platforms have both empowered hitherto suppressed voices but also helped increase societal polarization. Traditional networks, in academia and beyond, can also potentially facilitate ostracism and exert undue influence on dissenting voices.

So the question is how the amplifying effect of networks in general and of scholarly networks in particular can also be used productively. The case has been made that collaboration in academic networks increases the quality of research, not least because the diversity of views, backgrounds and capabilities enhances creativity.  Access to resources and global scholarly discourses can become possible. Academic networks could also have the potential of creating leverage for promoting free and innovative thinking – leading to “better” science”, but also giving protection and empowerment to individuals whose academic freedom is infringed. Could academic networks even be made productive for societal contexts?

The 13th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities tried to understand academic networks better, discussed the power of networks and explored how this power can be harnessed for the benefit of science and research as well as societies worldwide.

Forum zur Internationalisierung der Wissenschaft
Foto: Humboldt-Stiftung/David Ausserhofer)

Stiftungspräsident Hans-Christian Pape
Foto: Humboldt-Stiftung/David Ausserhofer

Die Mitglieder des International Advisory Boards Joseph S. Francisco und Katharina Boele-Woelki beim Forum.
Foto: Humboldt-Stiftung/David Ausserhofer

Forum zur Internationalisierung der Wissenschaft
Foto: Humboldt-Stiftung/David Ausserhofer

Forum zur Internationalisierung der Wissenschaft
Foto: Humboldt-Stiftung/David Ausserhofer

Forum zur Internationalisierung der Wissenschaft
Foto: Humboldt-Stiftung/David Ausserhofer

Forum zur Internationalisierung der Wissenschaft
Foto: Humboldt-Stiftung/David Ausserhofer

 

Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities

International Advisory Board

Contact

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Jean-Paul-Str. 12
53173 Bonn
Germany

Phone: +49 (228) 833 245
martin.schaffartzik(at)avh.de

Dr. Martin Schaffartzik
Program Director
Strategic Planning Division

Dr. Barbara Sheldon
Head of
Strategic Planning Division