Cultures of Creativity: The Challenge of Scientific Innovation in Transnational Perspective

3rd Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities

November 19–20, 2009, London


Scientific innovation can only prosper in an atmosphere that allows for cutting-edge research at the frontiers of knowledge. It requires a climate that fosters curiosity, originality and the generation of new ideas, promotes institutional and methodological diversity as well as international and interdisciplinary cooperation, and that encourages risk-taking and early independence – in short: it needs a culture of creativity. The call for such a culture of creativity has become

Participants at the Third Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities
Participants at the Third Forum on the Internationalization
of Sciences and Humanities
Photo: Humboldt Foundation/Adam Scott
ubiquitous in German academia and politics in the past few years: recent German government initiatives aim at enhancing scientific creativity and inventive talent for sustained development, German universities call upon the idea of creativity to succeed in the "Initiative of Excellence" and a range of recent conferences have tried to explore what role creativity can play in both basic research and high-end R&D. Yet what does a culture of creativity actually entail? What promotes and what impedes such a culture of creativity? What institutional structures are needed to do integrative, innovative, and transformative research, and how must research be organized to meet the challenging complexity of scientific problems in the 21st century?

These were questions discussed by more than 50 participants of the 3rd Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities, which convened on 20 November 2009 at the Royal Society in London.


Creativity begins modestly, and freedom is one of its prerequisites the discussion revealed. Young researchers in particular should be able to work independently at an earlier stage and receive better mentoring. Space and funds had to be provided for creative basic research, uninhibited by bureaucracy. The individual researcher’s creativity often flourished more in smaller research units. International research teams were also seen as an additional advantage – even in larger research institutions. They facilitated the sharing of new ideas and helped overcome boundaries between disciplines, cultures and bureaucracy.

While creativity in science could not be enforced by law, it was the task of policy-makers to provide the necessary general conditions. Praise was forthcoming, for example, for the German Excellence Initiative which had led to a growth in creative ideas and structures, such as more robust cooperation between university and non-university research institutions, increased internationalisation and greater institutional diversification.

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Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities

International Advisory Board


Frank Albrecht
Senior Coordinator
Strategic Planning Division
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Jean-Paul-Str. 12
53173 Bonn

Phone: +49 (228) 833 122

Dr. Martin Schaffartzik
Program Director
Strategic Planning Division

Dr. Barbara Sheldon
Head of
Strategic Planning Division