The Globalization of Knowledge
and the Principles of Governance in Higher Education and Research

5th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities

13 – 14 November 2011, Berlin


With global competition being so dynamic, higher education and research systems around the world are under pressure to change. Like other countries with a strong tradition in research, Germany has to respond to the challenges posed by huge research markets developing in other regions of the world: while the tasks of universities and research institutions differentiate depending on their source of funding and their economic and cultural environment, increasingly tight budgets exert their pressure for better efficiency. Fierce competition for the world’s most accomplished and creative scientific talents makes it necessary, however, to not only offer competitive working conditions with an utmost degree of freedom and flexibility, excellent infrastructure, and attractive financial remuneration, but also to ensure that the wider environment for innovative research and scientific endeavor is sound. This includes institutional structures suitable to do integrative, innovative, and transformative research, as well as motivating legal and administrative frameworks and support from an academic network that allows for productive cooperation across borders.

Participants at the Fourth Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities
5th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities,
Academy of Arts, Berlin

Photo: Humboldt Foundation/David Ausserhofer

With the internationalization of higher education and research as a backdrop, participants at the 5th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities discussed how politics could contribute to supporting universities and research institutions in their endeavors to offer attractive general conditions to globally mobile researchers and to fulfill their various tasks in the national framework. The participants agreed that the increasing commercialization of universities across the world was leading to a reduction in the scope for independent research, while the interest in drawing universities closer to industry and seeing them as engines for economic development was continuing to increase. In the U.S., market-oriented ideas already had such an enormous influence on the structure of university research that the balance between the disciplines was in danger and students were looked upon solely as consumers rather than knowledge-producers. Consequently, more than ever before, universities now found themselves doing a balancing act between serving regional (national and local) economic interests on the one hand and being forced to line up with global competition on the other. Although there was no argument about the significance of universities in the modern knowledge society, efforts to create top universities were often set against austerity measures – to the detriment of science and research. The participants also discussed how the differing academic cultures and value systems in Europe, Africa, America and Asia could be harmonized sufficiently to ensure that science and research continued to enjoy the necessary freedom to produce new knowledge and be beneficial to development worldwide.

Sixty high-ranking representatives from science and science policy, research funding and administration, and leading international experts accepted the invitation from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s International Advisory Board to share their knowledge on the impact of globalization on research structures and principles of governance in higher education and research. As a special guest of honor, the Forum welcomed the spokeswoman for science and research policy of the parliamentary group Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in the German Bundestag, Krista Sager. In her opening speech, Krista Sager emphasized the need for an open society as basic condition for international research cooperation. Politicians as well as society as a whole should have the courage to stand up for and, if necessary, defend an open and tolerant society, and help create the political conditions necessary for global student and researcher mobility. Thereby, international research cooperation could flourish and form the basis of science as a diplomacy of trust.

The most important points of discussion of the Forum have been published in a special supplement to “duz – unabhängige deutsche Universitätszeitung” in October 2012. This publication is available as a pdf file (please see top right corner) or can be obtained in print from the Foundation.

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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