13 March 2019, No. 04/2019

Press invitation: Conference for Academic Freedom being held in Berlin from 18 - 19 March

Three hundred experts and refugee researchers will take part in discussions at the kick-off event for the campaign "Together for Academic Freedom" being conducted by the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany to mark the 70th anniversary of Germany’s constitution, the Basic Law.

The conference on the subject "Supporting the Career Development of Researchers at Risk" will be held at Café Moskau in Berlin from 18 to 19 March. The event is part of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative which was launched by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

On opening day, Anne-Marie Descôtes, Ambassador of France to Germany, and Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, will present a joint Franco-German position paper on academic freedom. The conference is being organised by the Humboldt Foundation and is also the kick-off event for the campaign "Freedom is Our System. Together for Science" of the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany. The keynote speech will be given by the Jena-based historian Norbert Frei who will speak on the subject “On Academic Freedom”.

Date and venue:
18-19 March 2019, Café Moskau, Karl-Marx-Allee 34, 10178 Berlin

Speakers at the opening of the conference starting 2 p.m. on 18 March:

  • Prof. Dr. Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • Anne-Marie Descôtes, Ambassador of France to Germany, and Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, with a Franco-German position paper on academic freedom
  • Keynote speech: Prof. Dr. Norbert Frei, “On Academic Freedom”

Conference programme

The conference is aimed primarily at researchers at risk who have had to leave their country in the wake of war or persecution and who have come to Germany on a temporary basis through the Philipp Schwartz Initiative or another similar programme, and who now want to plan the next steps for their occupation and career. In addition to workshops for researchers in exile, the second day of the conference will give centre stage to talks on the state of freedom of research in different parts of the world. The conference will offer researchers who have fled their countries and representatives of their host institutions in Germany the opportunity to obtain an overview of available fellowships and career possibilities through the conference’s programme and by personally talking with experts from the leading German research organisations. Supporters of at-risk researchers at German institutions and partner organisations from other countries will also have the opportunity at the conference to share information about their experiences.

Journalists are welcome to attend. Please apply for accreditation by Friday, 15 March 2019, with a copy of your press ID to: avh-psi(at)con-gressa.de. We shall be glad to arrange interviews at the conference; we are however unable to guarantee that this will always be possible due to the researchers’ personal situation. If you would like to conduct an interview, please contact us in advance at avh-psi(at)con-gressa.de or call us at (030) 2849-3845.

The conference will kick off the initiative "Freedom is Our System. Together for Science" which is being organised by the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany. The months leading up to September of this year will see a series of events, speeches, debates and opinion pieces that will send a strong signal in support of freedom in research and teaching and against restrictions and interference. These activities will make the importance of education and science for an open society in the midst of radical change the subject of discussion. The Alliance of Science Organisations is a coalition of the most important science and research organisations in Germany. The Alliance’s members are the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German National Academy of Sciences, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association, the German Rectors’ Conference, the Leibniz Association, the Max Planck Society and the German Council of Science and Humanities.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Philipp Schwartz Initiative enables researchers who have fled their countries to gain a foothold at German universities and research institutions. These researchers and scholars were forced by war, repression or persecution to leave their country. In the years since the initiative was launched, Philipp Schwartz Fellowships have been granted to a total of 162 researchers at risk. One hundred and thirty-four of them (as of March 2019) have started their research stay in Germany. The initiative provides funding to German universities and research institutions to be used to finance two-year stays for these foreign researchers and scholars. This programme was established by the Humboldt Foundation together with the Federal Foreign Office with support from private foundations. Further information: http://www.humboldt-foundation.de/web/philipp-schwartz-initiative-en.html

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 conducting research in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of well over 29,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 55 Nobel Laureates.

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