From Knowlegde to Development
Academic Cooperation as an Engine for Developement
By Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
Scientific development does not have to be a one-way street, as the Georg Forster Research Fellowship Programme shows. The Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development takes stock.
For the last ten years, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has been granting Georg Forster Research Fellowships to excellent scientists and scholars from developing and threshold countries. On this anniversary, their record is cause for celebration. 396 fellows from 64 countries have been sponsored so far and are now part of the Foundation's worldwide network. Most of them, roughly 95 percent, returned home after their research stay in Germany and are engines for sustainable development in their countries today. At the same time, they keep in touch with their academic partners in Germany. This is the way in which scientific development becomes a "two-way street", profiting both sides. Just as with all the other academics sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation, Georg Forster Fellows are also sought-after experts at the very forefront of their disciplines whose knowledge and methods not only benefit their own countries, but Germany, too.
|African Georg Forster Fellows
at the Alexander von Humboldt
Foundation's Annual Meeting in Berlin
Academic cooperation and tertiary education are an important pillar of our development cooperation. A well-trained population and a society's ability to assimilate, utilise and advance new knowledge are decisive for the process of development. Science and tertiary education form the basis for the economic dynamism which is essential to sustain social improvement and the reduction of poverty. The Georg Forster Fellowship Programme is an important instrument for academic cooperation. I am thus delighted that the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has been able to provide approximately 18 million EUR for this fellowship programme since 1998.
Knowlegde as the central resource
The development focus of the research projects targets concrete progress in many fields: social, political, economic and technological. However, the value of such academic collaborations not only lies in the concrete projects of biologists, lawyers, agronomists, physicians, linguists or engineers. Rather, knowledge is becoming the central resource worldwide, and the opportunities and requirements are the same everywhere. We are looking at innovations, applied research and cooperation between private enterprise and research, the creation of high-tech regions, as well as networking and cooperation on a regional and global scale. In the worldwide contest between knowledge societies, in which developing countries are also taking part, indeed have to take part, just as Germany does, excellent academics and first-class universities, strong on research and teaching, are the essential assets. The Georg Forster Programme recognises this fact and strengthens developing countries in the creation and development of university and science systems which become crystallisation centres for further development. This may take the form of attracting companies and training highly-qualified personnel or becoming sought-after partners for international collaborations which themselves lead to further gains in knowledge and development. This is the reason why the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is so willing to support the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and why it does so with complete conviction: every research fellowship is an important and immensely worthwhile investment in a sustainable future to which I hope many more Georg Forster Fellows will continue to contribute in the coming years.
Comment on article
If you are an Humboldtian and have logged in, you have the option of commenting on this article or other Humboldtians' comments. (Please read the comment guidelines first)
After logging in, Humboldtians have the option of participating in discussion of articles in Humboldt Kosmos and contributing comments of up to 1,000 characters for publication in German or English. If the comment is published it will appear under your name.
Every comment will be checked by the editors and published as soon as possible unless there are objections on legal or content grounds. The editors reserve the right to abridge and revise comments where necessary. Please bear in mind that published comments can be accessed by anyone on the Internet and may be located by search engines.