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On 6 April 2022, the 15 members of the first cohort – researchers as well as authors, artists and journalists – celebrated the launch of the new Humboldt Residency Programme together with invited guests. Over the course of a year and a two-month residency in Berlin, the experts from ten countries – Chile, Czech Republic, India, Israel, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany – will discuss issues relating to social cohesion and communicate with the general public at various events.
In welcoming the group, Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Humboldt Foundation, emphasised the need for international dialogue in the light of worldwide crises and social challenges. Pape called for the continued search for solutions despite the immensity of the task. “In this first Humboldt Residency Programme, we want to analyse the mechanisms at work when individuals and groups become radicalised, how we can reach out to them nevertheless, and how we can reinforce the cohesion of society and defend it against such threats. We want to draw up alternative concepts and strengthen positive dynamics. Precisely in the doom and gloom mood influenced by the war and the pandemic, we want to sharpen our awareness of the opportunities inherent in change.”
Ralf Beste, Head of the Directorate General for Culture and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office, also pointed to the power of international networks. “We can all benefit from networking experiences, people to people, across the globe, all our life. And that is what the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is about: building enduring networks among a group of top scientists of all beats of disciplines.” Ralf Beste wished the members of the first cohort every success for their collaboration. “It’s a worthwhile endeavour, it’s a pioneering task and I am sure something important will come out of it.”
The creative lead of the first programme cohort, the extremism researcher and Humboldtian Cynthia Miller-Idriss, presented her vision for the work ahead. The Director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL) at the American University, Washington, D.C., underlined the cohort’s productive approach to the phenomena of social division. “We have to think about the ways to achieve more social justice, to focus more on those who are most affected by all the negative effects of division and to forge a social cohesion approach that reduces the fertile ground on which all those other negative things thrive.”
The following panel discussion with the Italian political scientist and Humboldtian Donatella della Porta (WZB Berlin Social Science Centre) and the psychology professor Jule Specht (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) addressed the questions the experts want to debate and answer in the course of the programme: How can the various dimensions of cohesion in (global) societies be analysed and introduced productively into the public debate? What role do civil rights play in preserving social cohesion? How can minorities’ perspectives be reinforced? Is enough consideration being given to differing social positions and the conditions for trust in institutions? The cohort’s work has begun, the first results will be presented in the late summer this year.
For more information on the programme, the members of the cohort and the events planned, visit here.
Humboldt Residency Programme
Under the creative leadership of annually changing hosts, the Humboldt Residency Programme enables researchers from the Foundation’s network and beyond to come together with actors in civil society as well as media representatives. Over a period of one year, including a residency in Berlin, they work together on a common topic. The resulting media formats, events and publications generate tangible new impetus in academia, society and politics.
Through the Humboldt Residency Programme, the Humboldt Foundation is not only intensifying interdisciplinary exchange between science and civil society actors but also sounding out new forms of hybrid cooperation. Dialogue with society is one of the Foundation’s key objectives. Further information on its activities in the field of science communication can be found here.
(Press release 10/2022)
Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time conducting research in Germany. The Foundation maintains an interdisciplinary network of well over 30,000 Humboldtians in more than 140 countries around the world – including 59 Nobel Prize winners.