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Science diplomacy

09.11.2020 - Article

Academic mobility and scientific cooperation are playing an increasingly important role – also with a view to achieving an effective German foreign policy. Germany’s science diplomacy is helping to shape this cooperation and is working around the world to defend the freedom of science and Research.

Meeting global challenges together

Whether through international higher education partnerships or double degrees and academic exchange programmes, universities and research institutes across the globe are becoming increasingly interconnected – because global challenges such as peace, climate change and pandemics can only be met through joint action by international partners.

As a location for innovation, science and research, Germany is playing an active role in shaping this cooperation. Science diplomacy strengthens the framework conditions for international cooperation and exchange and strengthens Germany as a location of innovation and excellence.

Academic mobility and scientific cooperation

A key aspect of Germany’s foreign policy with regard to science, research and universities are scholarship programmes that promote visits to Germany by foreign students and scientists. The Federal Foreign Office makes the funds required to carry out these measures available to its intermediary organisations from the federal budget. The amount and form that the scholarships take are governed by the scholarship guidelines of the Federal Foreign Office.

The German Academic Exchange Service and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation award fellowships or sponsor academic programmes, for example. In so doing, they cooperate closely with German missions abroad, also developing comprehensive programmes such as the Leadership for Africa scholarship programme, which enables young talent from countries with large numbers of refugees to study for a master’s degree in Germany.

Beyond its scholarship programmes, Germany also promotes higher education partnerships around the world. The Higher Education Compass lists around 37,000 cooperative partnerships with more than 5400 partner universities in over 150 countries. In the course of these cooperative partnerships, double degree programmes and binational universities abroad have also been established, such as the Kazakh-German University in Almaty, the German University in Cairo and the German-Turkish University in Istanbul.

DAAD Centres of Excellence in Research and Teaching as well as DAAD Centres of African Excellence are also beacons of German scientific cooperation with partner countries. For example, the German Colombian Peace Institute CAPAZ is helping to consolidate peace in Colombia through interdisciplinary scientific support and political consulting.

Strengthening scientific freedom – creating academic prospects

Scientists in a laboratory
German University in Cairo© EPA

German science diplomacy places a special focus on protecting scientists at risk. Together with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Federal Foreign Office has launched the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, a special programme to support the reception and integration of scientists at risk in Germany.

Another key priority of the Federal Government is the creation of scientific and academic prospects for young people and trained scientists in times of crisis as well as in conflict regions. Education and exchange can help overcome hardship and crises. It is thanks in particular to opportunities for refugees in the regions in question that the burden on countries of first admission is relieved, opportunities in the labour market are created and secondary migration is prevented. For almost 30 years now, the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI), sponsored by the Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with UNHCR, has enabled refugees to study at university in a third state.

Germany as a location for research and innovation

For a high-tech country like Germany, promoting international cooperation is an essential component of any strategy for the future. This also entails intensively marketing Germany as a centre for higher education and research. As a showcase and permanent joint presence of German research organisations, the German Centres for Research and Innovation in New York, Tokyo, São Paulo, New Delhi and Moscow promote and network Germany as a location for innovation in the respective regions.

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