Press release

Federal Cross of Merit awarded to former Humboldt Foundation President

Hans-Christian Pape decorated for his achievements as a researcher and his engagement for science policy

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Katja Keul, Staatsministerin im Auswärtigen Amt, steht neben dem Präsidenten der Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Hans-Christian Pape. Beide schauen lachend in die Kamera. Sie halten eine Mappe mit einer Urkunde in den Händen.
Katja Keul, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, presented the Federal Cross of Merit to Hans-Christian Pape, former President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
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Hans-Christian Pape, former President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has been awarded the Cross of Merit 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Katja Keul, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, presented the honour at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on 18 January. Through his teaching and research as well as his outstanding engagement in leading positions at institutions such as the Humboldt Foundation, Leopoldina and the German Council of Science and Humanities, Pape had emphatically shaped foreign cultural and educational policy as well as science policy, said the Minister of State.

Vita of Hans-Christian Pape 

Hans-Christian Pape has been Professor and Head of the Institute of Physiology I at the University of Münster since 2004. In 2018, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning expert on the neurophysiological foundations of emotional behaviour was appointed President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. His five-year term of office saw exceptional global crises and events. 

At the award ceremony, Katja Keul thus acknowledged, for example, the Foundation’s swift, targeted response to the Covid pandemic and the war of aggression against Ukraine under Pape’s leadership: It had managed to offer alternatives to physical mobility at short notice and to introduce digital selection and sponsorship concepts. The Humboldt Foundation’s Philipp Schwartz Initiative provided bridging fellowships after the Taliban assumed power in Afghanistan and was quickly and flexibly extended following Russia’s attack in Ukraine in order to offer refugee researchers a safe haven in Germany.

The Minister of State praised the Humboldt Foundation and its network for helping to solve the major challenges of our times. Germany benefitted enormously, she noted, from the external perspectives of its unique platform for international, interdisciplinary dialogue. Hans-Christian Pape had reinforced the Foundation’s profile and always emphasised the responsibility of science and academia towards society, Keul continued. During his presidency, new, innovative formats had been created that brought researchers together with the media and society, such as the Humboldt Communication Lab and the Humboldt Residency Programme.

The Order of Merit is awarded by the Federal President to German and foreign citizens at various levels for political, economic, social and intellectual achievements as well as for special services to the Federal Republic of Germany. It is the highest accolade granted by the Federal Republic for services to the common good.

(Press release 1/2024)

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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