28 June 2018, No. 17/2018

Federal President Steinmeier: "Promote the universe of knowledge!"

Speaking at the Annual Meeting of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Frank-Walter Steinmeier stresses the importance of interaction between science, politics and society

As part of the Humboldt Foundation's Annual Meeting, Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier received more than 600 Humboldtians from throughout the world and their families in the park at Schloss Bellevue this morning. "It is wonderful that you have all come to Germany, to our liberal-minded country, a country of science and research", he said, welcoming his guests from 82 countries.

President Steinmeier noted that he is "disturbed to see that in many parts of the world the big 'simplifiers' are attracting increasing support" and "how faith in reason and discourse is being challenged in many ways", Steinmeier continued. The enormous problems of our day call for common solutions, he stressed in his address: "What we need in science and politics is cross-border exchange and collaboration." Steinmeier encouraged the Humboldtians from around the world to get involved and raise their voices as citizens to advocate "open-mindedness, interaction and critical reason". Steinmeier's appeal: "Get the word out and explain to as many people as possible what you do and why you do it. Promote the universe of knowledge!"

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomes the Humboldtians at Schloss Bellevue
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomes the Humboldtians and their families in the park of Schloss Bellevue
(Photo: Humboldt Foundation/David Ausserhofer)

The President of the Humboldt Foundation, Hans-Christian Pape, also stressed the importance of dialogue: Researchers must continually remember "that ultimately we are not conducting research for ourselves, for our reputation, for our career or for our next publication, but rather for the common good", Pape said in his speech opening the Annual Meeting at the Freie Universität Berlin. It is essential that society agree on the science community's responsibilities and understanding of its role, he said, "such as regarding which problems research should address with priority and, surely also, which ethical boundaries research must incorporate". Pape also took the opportunity to encourage researchers: "We should communicate honestly, openly and in understandable ways what we are researching, why we are conducting this research and what progress and advances will become possible as a result of this work."

The Annual Meeting brings together international researchers who are currently guests at a German university through a sponsorship from the Humboldt Foundation. In the years since the first meeting in 1955, the Humboldtians' annual visit with Germany's federal president has become a tradition. It is also the highlight of the Annual Meeting.

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 28,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 55 Nobel Prize winners.