01 June 2016, No. 09/2016

Philipp Schwartz Initiative: 18 universities singled out for their support for threatened researchers 

Humboldt Foundation selects concepts and grants funding for fellowships for persecuted researchers

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has selected the winning universities and research institutions for the first round of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative. With the help of the Initiative, these universities and research institutions will be able to host foreign researchers who are at threat. Funds will be provided for 23 researchers who are seeking refuge in Germany because they are threatened by war or persecution in their homeland. Starting this summer, these researchers will conduct research for two years as Philipp Schwartz Fellows at the selected German universities and research institutions.

The host institutions are: the University of Bayreuth, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Universities of Bochum, Bonn, Bremen, Duisburg-Essen, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Gießen, Göttingen, Heidelberg, Cologne, Leipzig, Mainz and Tübingen as well as the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig.

They were selected from 38 universities and research institutions that wanted to host one or more threatened researchers and whose proposals included concepts for the researchers’ professional and personal integration. These plans provide not only for a wide range of assistance that includes individualised legal and organisational guidance, intercultural training, language courses and psychological support but also involvement in specialist networks and the development of expertise in dealing with threatened researchers at the host institution.

The 23 researchers who are to take up work at the selected universities come from Syria (14), Turkey (6), Libya, Pakistan and Uzbekistan (one each). Interviews with selected researchers can be arranged upon request. Further information about the winning institutions and their concepts and the application process is available here.

The Philipp Schwartz Initiative was established by the Humboldt Foundation with assistance from Germany’s Federal Foreign Office. Financial assistance is provided by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Klaus Tschira Stiftung, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Stiftung Mercator.

Commenting on the selection, the Secretary General of the Humboldt Foundation, Enno Aufderheide, noted: “The fact that so many applications were submitted is not only an indication of the need for offers of protection for threatened researchers. The strong interest in the Philipp Schwartz Initiative is also testimony to the solidarity between researchers and their willingness to help one another in times of need and persecution. The winning concepts are exemplary for the forms this help can take. With this initiative we want to ensure that these examples serve as models and that a strong network of committed universities and research institutions develops in Germany. We thank the Federal Foreign Office and the participating private foundations for their generous and flexible support.”

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier commented: “With the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, we give threatened scientists an opportunity to continue conducting research, free from threat, so that they will be able to assume responsibility in their home countries at a later point in time. Philipp Schwartz himself had to flee Nazi Germany in the 1930s. For this reason it is only right when we are the ones today who help persecuted scientists. In light of this I especially welcome the enormous commitment of the German universities and research institutions that with their many proposals are sending a clear signal for the protection of persecuted scientists.”

It is planned to hold another round of applications in July 2016. 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 Organisation of German Scientists and Scholars Abroad).

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 Prize winners.


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