27 June 2019, No. 14/2019

"Lifelines of science": Germany’s President Steinmeier and Chancellor Merkel at Humboldt Foundation meeting

800 Humboldtians and their families are guests in Berlin

They hail from Brazil, China and the USA, from Nigeria, Italy, Mexico and Nepal: nearly 800 scientists and scholars from some 80 countries who are currently guests at German universities thanks to assistance from the Humboldt Foundation have gathered in Berlin since yesterday for the annual meeting of the Humboldt Foundation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the opening of the annual meeting. (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/Jens Jeske)
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the opening of the annual meeting. (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/Jens Jeske)
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German Chanellor Angela Merkel and Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Humboldt Foundation, at the opening of the annual meeting. (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/Jens Jeske)
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Enno Aufderheide, Secretary General of the Humboldt Foundation, Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Humboldt Foundation, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Günter Ziegler, President of the Freie Universität Berlin (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/Jens Jeske)
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Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomes the Humboldtians and their families in the park at Schloss Bellevue (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/Jens Jeske)
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Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomes the Humboldtians and their families in the park at Schloss Bellevue (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/Jens Jeske)
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Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomes the Humboldtians and their families in the park at Schloss Bellevue (Photo: Humboldt Foundation/Jens Jeske)
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Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the meeting yesterday and presented the Humboldt Alumni Awards which the Foundation uses to single out innovative networking ideas from Humboldtians in other countries. Merkel stressed the importance of academic and scientific freedom and multilateral cooperation and underscored the contribution the Humboldt Foundation makes to this through its international collaboration. “Today, networks of researchers serve as lifelines in the science world and are part of globalisation that is practised and purposefully shaped by stakeholders. The Humboldt network with its 30,000 members around the globe particularly stands out in this connection”, said Merkel. The Humboldt Foundation builds not only bridges within the scientific and academic community, but also bridges between societies and cultures, she added.

The Humboldtians and their families are guests in the park at Schloss Bellevue today at the invitation of Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Steinmeier thanked the visiting researchers from abroad for their collaboration with Germany. “Scientific excellence thrives on the sharing and competition between the world’s best minds. And all of you who belong to the Humboldt family are making an important contribution to this. And, at the same time, you are also making an important contribution to building and improving the Federal Republic of Germany’s scientific and academic networks.”.

The President of the Humboldt Foundation, Hans-Christian Pape, called on the researchers attending the meeting to transcend the boundaries between disciplines and nations. Pape stressed how important dialogue between the science community and the public is. “We researchers must explain what we do, what we are able to do and, most importantly, what we are not able to do”, Pape said. He called upon the Humboldtians at the event to bridge the boundary between science and society. “Let us seek new ways to initiate dialogue and strengthen trust. Let us be sensitive and listen when we are questioned.”

That morning President Steinmeier presented the 2019 Philipp Franz von Siebold Award to the Japanese political scientist Masahiro Noguchi in honour of his outstanding contributions to fostering exchange between Germany and Japan. The afternoon was dedicated to lectures, laboratory and campus tours at Adlershof, a centre for research and industry.

In the years since the first meeting in 1955, the Humboldtians' annual visit with Germany's 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 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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