Press release

“Diversity is the best way to create a just society”: Federal President Steinmeier addresses the Humboldt Foundation’s digital Annual Meeting

More than 1,000 researchers from around the world attend online, conference theme is “Diversity of Ideas” .

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Music video: Members of the Humboldt network dance together to the music of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. by Aretha Franklin.
Federal President Steinmeier at the annual meeting
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier adresses the participants of the Annual Meeting.
Nobel Laureate Emmanuelle Charpentier at the annual meeting
Nobel Prize winner and Humboldtian Emmanuelle Charpentier reports on her research.
Secretary General Enno Aufderheide with co-presenter Lisa Weitemeier
Enno Aufderheide, Secretary General of the Foundation, opens the Annual Meeting together with journalist Lisa Weitemeier.
Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Humboldt Foundation, at the annual meeting
Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Foundation, welcomes the participants.
Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office Michelle Müntefering at the annual meeting
Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State at Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, gives greetings at the Annual Meeting.
Enno Aufderheide, Secretary General, at the annual meeting
Secretary General of the Foundation, Enno Aufderheide
Wolf-Dieter Lukas, secretary of state at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, at the annual meeting
Wolf-Dieter Lukas, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, giving his speech.

Speaking at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Humboldt Foundation, Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed how important diversity is for modern-day societies. “Truly accepting diversity is actually an ethic, a cultural, a social and a political challenge”, said Steinmeier at today’s reception for individuals who are being sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was once again held online instead of in the park at Schloss Bellevue. Steinmeier also included a call for action: “Accepting diversity and trying, despite all differences, to pursue a common goal: that is the best way to create a just society – and the best way to achieve academic and scientific success.” For Steinmeier, the Humboldt Foundation with its network of more than 30,000 researchers from over 140 countries and a wide array of disciplines offers an enormous opportunity: “It can not only make these differences in academic cultures tangible. It can also allow people to experience how fruitful it can be when we accept such diversity and when it is regarded as enriching and as a means of expanding our knowledge”, Steinmeier explained.

#ProgressDiversity on Twitter 

The idea behind the Diversity of Ideas meeting is to turn the diversity of the Humboldt Network into a tangible experience and create a space for sharing and networking even in times of a pandemic. More than 1,000 alumni and individuals who are sponsored by the Foundation will gather on 23 and 24 June for online discussions, lectures and lab visits, all revolving around the conference theme. Speakers will include the sociologist Jutta Allmendinger, President of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, and Angela Schöllig, robotics expert and designated Humboldt Professor for Artificial Intelligence at Technische Universität München. The conference is part of the #ProgressDiversity campaign which the Humboldt Foundation is using to foster diversity in science and research

Humboldt Foundation President Hans-Christian Pape stressed the important role diversity plays in successful science: “Opposites and differing perspectives often generate the best ideas and outcomes.” He underscored: “Excellence and diversity are not opposites. On the contrary, they determine and reinforce one another.” Especially with regard to the complex tasks and multifaceted challenges we are facing in the world, diversity and success are simply “two sides of the same coin”.

Opening of the digital Annual Meeting

The guests and speakers at the virtual meeting included Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State at Germany’s Federal Foreign Office. She was very clear in her welcoming remarks: “Diversity of perspective is also the foundation of our democracy. More openness for people from differing backgrounds, more women in leadership roles, more campaigns for scientific and social freedom: that is why these are also core features of our science diplomacy.” Wolf-Dieter Lukas, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, added his voice to the appeals: “Diversity of ideas cannot be taken for granted. It only exists when bright minds can come together and make their voices heard.” Ensuring this is an important task: “Global exchange and mobility as well as gender equity foster diversity of ideas”, Lukas added.

The kick-off to the Annual Meeting will be streamed on our YouTube channel starting 5 p.m. on 23 June 2021. Day 2 will be held using a special event platform and will not be open to the public.

(Press release 10/2021)

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 57 Nobel Prize winners.

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