Philipp Schwartz Initiative funds 56 more fellows at risk – Andrew W. Mellon Foundation donating more than €1 million

The Humboldt Foundation awards funding to 41 universities so they can take in researchers at risk. A donation from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has enabled additional fellowships.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has selected the research institutions for the third round of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative: a total of 41 institutions throughout Germany will be able to take in threatened foreign researchers with the assistance provided by the Initiative. Funds will be provided for a total of 56 researchers who are seeking refuge in Germany because they are threatened by war or persecution in their homeland. Starting August 2017 these scientists and scholars will conduct research for two years as Philipp Schwartz Fellows at the selected institutions.

The 41 host institutions were selected from 68 universities and research institutions that want to host one or more threatened researchers and whose proposals included concepts for the researchers’ professional and personal integration. Altogether, 114 individuals were nominated. In addition to the quality of integration, key considerations for the decisions included the academic match, the researchers’ qualification and the prospects for a successful new start in their career.

Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel explained: “Academic freedom is under threat in ever more countries, and researchers are put under pressure, persecuted and silenced. The freedom of science and research is vital for an open, modern society. The Philipp Schwartz Initiative thus sends a clear signal that, at a time when authoritarian ambitions are apparently riding the wave in many places, we do not leave affected researchers to their own devices but offer them a protected space and hence prospects for the future.” 

The researchers who will now be taken in at the selected universities come from Turkey (40 fellows), Syria (9), Iraq (3), Venezuela (2), Yemen and Ukraine (1 each). In the last round in December 2016, 59 institutions applied to the Philipp Schwartz Initiative and nominated a total of 84 researchers at risk. Most of the 44 fellows from the previous round came from Turkey (22), Syria (16) and Iraq (2). 

The Secretary General of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Enno Aufderheide, commented: “The fact that we received more applications than ever shows the amount of pressure critical, independent thinkers are under in many countries. Moreover, this time, we can finance even more Philipp Schwartz Fellowships and thus help more threatened researchers thanks to support from the German government and private foundations, even in the United States. That signals the extent to which Germany is recognised internationally as a country that campaigns for the freedom of research and provides a safe haven for researchers under threat. I am certain this will become even more common in future.” 

The programme is being expanded thanks to the support from Germany's political sector and from private foundations. Funding from the Federal Foreign Office is supplemented by grants from the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Klaus Tschira Stiftung, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Stifterverband and the Stiftung Mercator. Most recently, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation from the United States donated US$1.05 million which has already been used in the third round to grant additional fellowships to researchers in the humanities and social sciences. The Humboldt Foundation aims to continue the programme beyond the third round.

The initiative is named after the Jewish pathologist Philipp Schwartz who had to flee Nazi Germany in 1933 and later established the Notgemeinschaft deutscher Wissenschaftler im Ausland (Emergency Society of German Scientists and Scholars Abroad). Besides fellowships, the initiative also provides funding for establishing necessary structures at the host institutions, conducting conferences for sharing information, and for networking host institutions with one another. In this connection, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation works closely with international partners such as the Scholars at Risk network, the Scholar Rescue Fund and the Council for At-Risk Academics.

Universities supported

Third selection round in July 2017

  • RWTH Aachen University
  • University of Augsburg
  • University of Bamberg
  • Alice Salomon Hochschule
  • Forum Transregionale Studien
  • Freie Universität Berlin
  • Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP)
  • Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO)
  • German Institute for International and Security Affairs, SWP
  • Technische Universität Berlin
  • Bielefeld University
  • Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB)
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing MEVIS
  • University of Bremen
  • Chemnitz University of Technology
  • Technische Universität Darmstadt
  • University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Goethe University Frankfurt
  • European University Viadrina
  • University of Freiburg
  • Giessen University
  • University of Göttingen
  • University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg
  • Universität Hamburg
  • Friedrich Schiller University Jena
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology – KIT
  • University of Kassel
  • University of Cologne
  • University of Konstanz
  • Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO)
  • Hochschule Mannheim University of Applied Sciences
  • Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Technical University of Munich
  • Münster University of Applied Sciences
  • University of Potsdam
  • University of Siegen
  • University of Stuttgart
  • Ulm University
  • Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU)