Press release

Agenda for Embracing Diversity: Actively promoting diversity in science

As a global research funding and networking organisation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is increasing its focus on diversity in all of its areas of activity.

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The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has established a binding framework for its commitment to more diversity in science and research: With its Agenda for Embracing Diversity, which the Board of Trustees adopted at its last meeting, the Foundation has committed itself to actively promoting and systematically implementing diversity in all areas of the Foundation’s activities.

In its capacity as a research funding organisation, the Foundation brings outstanding researchers from more than 140 countries and every conceivable discipline and field together with specialist colleagues from Germany in its network. While doing so, it is fully aware that the prerequisites for excellence and the conditions under which research is conducted and scientific potential can develop vary greatly around the world. The situation of the individual researchers and therefore certain dimensions of diversity are already factored into the funding portfoliothe Foundation draws on for its selection and sponsorship work. The aim of the Diversity for Excellence agenda (PDF) is to make diversity an even greater focus of all of the Foundation’s areas of activity.

We want to examine the relationship between scientific excellence and diversity on a continuous and strategically targeted basis.
Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Humboldt Foundation

“Our aim is to identify and appropriately approach the best research talents and high potentials in the world - in all their diversity and with an eye to the many different contexts to be found around the world that provide the setting for the emergence of excellence”, said Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Humboldt Foundation. “To ensure this, we are using our Agenda as a starting point for reflecting on the concept of excellence. We want to examine the relationship between scientific excellence and diversity on a continuous and strategically targeted basis.” This is absolutely vital, also with a view to Germany’s science system, he pointed out. “In research, having diversity in perspectives is indispensable to pushing back the boundaries of what is already known and finding solutions to pressing problems around the world”, Pape said. “At the same time, fostering diversity in science on a targeted basis and championing values such as equality of opportunity and freedom of science contribute on a long-term basis to Germany’s attractiveness and success as a location for conducting research.”

Specifically, the Foundation will be systematically reviewing all areas of activity – from its selection, sponsorship and communication work all the way to its administrative operations – with an eye to equality of opportunity and accessibility, and aligning its processes accordingly. In addition, it will pool the expertise of scientists and scholars in its global network who conduct research on diversity topics, and develop this expertise as a “network within the network”. Here, the agenda foresees creating new – and also digitally supported – options and formats on a targeted basis. Diversity is to be anchored in the Foundation’s organisational culture as well – not only with respect to its work and management culture and personnel recruitment operations but also for ensuring an accessible, inclusive infrastructure.

The Agenda ties into the Humboldt Foundation’s strategy whose key aims include promoting diversity. In parallel to this, with its campaign #ProgressDiversity, the Foundation is also working to raise awareness of how important diversity is for the science system and draw more attention to it, and striving to continuously increase equity, equality of opportunity, and diversity in the science system.

(Press release 38 /2021)

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 61 Nobel Prize winners.

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