Press release

Fragile Freedom – Dialogue with displaced researchers

Opening event on 13 June 2024 at Ruhr University Bochum as part of Science Year 2024 – Freedom

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As part of the Fragile Freedom series, researchers who have fled their country will share their experiences with the curtailing and loss of freedom, a situation that compelled them to leave their homeland. Their experiences underscore the need to actively fight for the preservation of democratic values. These public events are being held at various universities throughout Germany and offer an opportunity for members of the public to engage in a dialogue with researchers who have fled their country.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. on 13 June 2024 with the researcher Vasil Navumau (Belarus) at Ruhr University Bochum.

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By creating the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation became Germany’s first research funding organisation to establish a funding programme to protect researchers who are persecuted and at threat.

Philipp Schwartz Initiative

Vasil Navumau’s research focuses on socio-political transformation, digital government and democratic communication between civil society and government. Navumau left Belarus in 2020 to avoid arrest, as activists faced growing repression and a citizens’ initiative he was involved in had to end its work. He came to Ruhr University Bochum in 2021 with assistance from the Philipp Schwartz Initiative.

Event details: 

  • 13 June 2024, 6 p.m. (Duration: ca. 60-90 minutes)
  • Haus der Geschichte des Ruhrgebiets (House for the History of the Ruhr), Clemensstraße 17, 44789 Bochum
  • Speaker: Vasil Navumau, Belarus, Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS), Ruhr University Bochum
  • Moderator: Mareike Ilsemann, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

The Fragile Freedom series of events is being conducted by the science communication agency con gressa in collaboration with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. It is being financed by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of Science Year 2024 – Freedom. The discussions will additionally be produced and released as live podcasts. You will find a newsletter, a list of all of the Fragile Freedom events and podcasts at

Science Year 2024 – Freedom
Science Year 2024 is focusing on freedom because of its fundamental importance and the fact that it is currently being threatened in ways that have been virtually inconceivable for many years now. Two anniversaries being marked this year underscore how important freedom is for Germany: the 75th anniversary of Germany’s Basic Law and the 35th anniversary of the fall of the Wall.
In light of this, Science Year 2024 revolves around various dimensions of freedom. What precisely is freedom? Are freedom and democracy related? Where does freedom begin? With its wide variety of activities which the public can participate in, this year’s Science Year offers a framework for discussing freedom, its value and its importance – with one another and with the research community. Freedom – today, tomorrow and worldwide.

(Press release 10/2024)

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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