18 September 2018, No. 24/2018, updated on 22 October 2018

Threatened researchers find refuge in Germany: Philipp Schwartz Initiative funds 35 more fellowships

The hitherto temporary initiative is now being financed permanently by the Federal Foreign Office.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has selected the research institutions in the fourth round of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative: a total of 31 institutions across Germany will now be able to host threatened researchers from abroad. Funds are being provided for a total of 35 researchers who are seeking refuge in Germany because they are threatened by war or persecution in their own countries. As of October 2018, these scientists and scholars will spend two years conducting research as Philipp Schwartz Fellows at the institutions selected.

The 31 host institutions were chosen from a pool of 56 universities and research institutions that were keen to host one or more threatened researchers and whose proposals included concepts for integrating the researchers, both professionally and personally. Altogether, 91 individuals were nominated. In addition to the quality of integration plans, the academic match and the researchers’ qualifications, the deciding factors included the prospects for a successful new start to their careers.

The researchers who will now be hosted by the universities selected come from Turkey (22 fellows), Syria (11), Iraq and Iran (one respectively).

The Philipp Schwartz Initiative was established by the Humboldt Foundation and Germany’s Federal Foreign Office. It has also received financial support from various foundations at home and abroad. Having so far been extended from one round to the next, it is now going to be placed on a permanent financial footing by the Federal Foreign Office. In the future, up to 50 Philipp Schwartz Fellowships are scheduled to be funded under the programme annually.

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas explained, “When the freedom of research is under ever greater threat worldwide and academic work is being politicised, we can’t sit back and ignore it. We Germans, in particular, know only too well from our own painful history where this can lead. That is why it is right to offer researchers the urgently needed scope and protected space here with us in Germany until the situation in their own countries has improved again.”

The Secretary General of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Enno Aufderheide, commented, “We are most grateful to the Federal Foreign Office for financing the initiative permanently. It sends a reliable signal: any researcher who is persecuted or threatened in their own country may find protection and solidarity in German science as a Philipp Schwartz Fellow.”

The following universities have been selected in the fourth round of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative:

  • Forum Transregionale Studien Berlin
  • Freie Universität Berlin
  • Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR Berlin)
  • Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin
  • Berlin Social Science Center (WZB)
  • Bielefeld University
  • Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB)
  • University of Bonn
  • Technische Universität Braunschweig
  • Technische Universität Dresden
  • Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)
  • Goethe University Frankfurt
  • University of Freiburg
  • Giessen University
  • Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
  • Universität Hamburg
  • Heidelberg University
  • University of Hohenheim
  • Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU)
  • Forschungszentrum Jülich
  • University of Kassel
  • University of Cologne
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Leipzig
  • Leipzig University
  • Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Hospital of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU), Munich
  • University of Potsdam
  • University of Siegen
  • University of Tübingen
  • University of Wuppertal (BUW)

The initiative is named after the Jewish pathologist Philipp Schwartz who had to flee Nazi Germany in 1933 and later established the “Notgemeinschaft deutscher Wissenschaftler im Ausland” (Emergency Society of German Scientists and Scholars Abroad). Besides fellowships, the initiative also provides funding for establishing necessary structures at the host institutions, conducting conferences for sharing information, and for networking host institutions with one another. In this connection, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation cooperates closely with international partners such as the Scholars at Risk Network, the Scholar Rescue Fund and the Council for At-Risk Academics.

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 29,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 55 Nobel Prize winners.

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