16 March 2020, No. 03/2020

Hans-Christian Pape: “The corona crisis is a wake-up call: it is international cooperation − not national egotism − that brings solutions.”

President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation sees dealing with the new coronavirus as an opportunity for changing our way of thinking.

When dealing with the corona pandemic, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is relying on flexible solutions in order to continue its funding activities at the same level and support its global research network. The Foundation’s President, neurophysiologist Hans-Christian Pape sees the current situation − despite all the difficulties it presents − as an opportunity for science and its relationship with society and the political sector.

“In the case of global climate change, it took a long time until the warnings from the science community were taken seriously. And too little has been undertaken to date to effectively and sufficiently slow global warming – also due to national interests. The extremely rapid and drastic course that the current corona pandemic is taking clearly shows that different and more decisive action is necessary”, Pape said.  “The corona crisis is a wake-up call: it is international cooperation − not national egotism − that brings solutions - in science and in politics”, Pape stressed, noting that the current crisis also offers the opportunity to change the way we think. “The willingness to change one’s own behaviour and to show solidarity is growing. The political sector and science community are holding intensive consultations and the general public is informing itself about what virologists and doctors are recommending. Considerations regarding, for instance, individual countries making exclusive use of vaccines are being emphatically rejected, at least in Germany. What we learn here must be put to use for how we deal with crises in the future”, underscored Pape.

The Humboldt Foundation’s international and interdisciplinary research network wants to help meet the medical, social and economic challenges arising from the corona crisis, he said. The Humboldt Foundation will do everything it can to support its network in this connection.

Consequently, it will continue is sponsorship activities. Funding applications will continue to be processed and evaluated as in the past. Rather than holding meetings with attendees being physically present, alternatives will be used. When possible, decentralised events will replace selection processes which require candidates from other countries to come to Germany.

Funding recipients in Germany and future fellows are requested to get in touch with their points of contact at their host institution or at the Foundation if they have any questions. 

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