15 December 2015, No. 25/2015

Funding programme for persecuted researchers launched

With funding to start in summer 2016, the Philipp Schwartz Initiative will allow up to 20 scientists and scholars who are under threat from political persecution to continue their research at German universities and research institutions

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is today (15.12.) launching the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, which is subsidised by the Federal Foreign Office. The programme supports scientists and scholars who seek safe haven from war and persecution in their own countries and wish to pursue professional opportunities in Germany.

The Philipp Schwartz Initiative is designed to allow German universities and research institutions to host foreign researchers at risk for a period of two years. From summer 2016, 20 such researchers will receive fellowships to enable them to continue their work at universities and research institutions in Germany.

Furthermore, in the course of the programme, a platform for information sharing amongst universities and research institutions on the specific situation of researchers at risk will be developed. Information events, conferences and advisory services – partly in collaboration with experienced international partner organisations like the Scholars at Risk Network and the Scholar Rescue Fund of the Institute of International Education – will help to generate the relevant consciousness.

In Berlin today, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier commented, “We are committed to offering a perspective to people in need. In a small way, we also want to repay other countries for what they did for German researchers in exile many decades ago. In conflict zones like Syria, for example, it is important to save the valuable knowledge of researchers in order to ensure the success of rebuilding when the conflict comes to an end. The Philipp Schwartz Initiative is thus an investment in the future of these countries as well.”

The call for applications for the programme opens today. Universities and research institutions which would like to host a threatened researcher may submit applications to the Humboldt Foundation until 31 March 2016. Click here for details.

“In their role as critical thinkers, researchers often play a special role in managing crises. But because they express their opinions freely, they can get into dangerous situations,” says Enno Aufderheide, the Secretary General of the Humboldt Foundation. “We are delighted that we can now launch the Philipp Schwartz Initiative and send a clear signal of support for researchers at risk,” Aufderheide continues. “We are able to do so thanks to backing from the Federal Foreign Office and close collaboration with private foundations which have been quick to assure us of their flexible support.”

Funding from the Federal Foreign Office will be complemented by private donations. Currently, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Klaus Tschira Stiftung and the Robert Bosch Foundation have committed funding in excess of one million EUR.

The initiative is named after Jewish pathologist Philipp Schwartz who had to flee Nazi-Germany in 1933 and founded the “Notgemeinschaft deutscher Wissenschaftler im Ausland” (Emergency Society of German Scholars Abroad). The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation intends to continue the programme after the first sponsorship round and is currently making efforts to secure additional funding.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of well over 27,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 52 Nobel Laureates.


Teresa Havlicek
Press, Communications and Marketing
Phone: +49 228 833-423
Fax: +49 228 833-441

Georg Scholl
Head of
Press, Communications and Marketing
Phone: +49 228 833-258
Fax: +49 228 833-441

Supported by