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06/17/2020 | Porträts und Geschichten

Two centers for international cooperation

The DAAD is funding the establishment of a new Exceed center in Kassel

Image: Adobestock - Aida Koric

When Prof. Dr. Aram Ziai receives the good news, he is not in Germany - the 47-year-old professor of political science is currently doing research in Iran for a semester. But the joy about the successful application can still be heard in the Skype interview, despite the long distance: "The fact that we were even able to bring a second Exceed Center to the University of Kassel with the GPN makes us very happy," says Prof. Ziai.

GPN - the abbreviation stands for Global Partnership Network. Besides the International Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD), the GNP is already the second center to be located at the University of Kassel within the Exceed program of the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD.

On April 1, work at the GPN really gets underway, reports Prof. Ziai. "On the one hand, the GPN wants to focus on concrete issues of development cooperation and the global economy - i.e. global partnerships in the fields of agriculture, finance and renewable energies" describes Prof. Ziai. "But at the same time, we also want to do very grassroots work over the next five years to involve disadvantaged groups in different countries in the process of knowledge production."

To this end, workshops will be organized, among other things, to enable people to enter into discussions around development cooperation at eye level. Graduate programs and fellowships are also part of the new center's offerings.

In terms of structure, the GPN will be similar to the ICDD, Prof. Ziai described. "The ICDD has set standards here, especially in terms of collaboration with partners from other countries." Thus, the new GPN will also have an internationally staffed steering committee that will make all important decisions.

Future of the ICDD secured

But the ICDD will also continue its work, albeit in a somewhat slimmed-down form. "After all, we have reached the maximum funding period for the ICDD under the Exceed program," reports Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer. From 2009 to 2019, the ICDD received extensive funding, and now the so-called transfer phase will run until the end of 2022.

But even after that, things are to continue for the ICDD, as Prof. Scherrer reports. "We are already in contact with several organizations that want to participate in funding the ICDD network, especially in the 'Global Labor University' project." These include, for example, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Open Society Foundation, which was launched by U.S. billionaire George Soros.

 "Conditions for researchers worldwide have not become easier in recent years, so our fellowship programs in particular are important building blocks for bringing scientists to Germany," says Prof. Scherrer. Here, scientists could literally recover from the often strenuous conditions in their home countries and pursue their research and teaching in peace.

Virtual conferences instead of air travel

A particular focus of the two centers is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the ICDD is primarily dedicated to researching appropriate working conditions, i.e. goal number 8, the new GPN wants to focus primarily on goal number 17. "Partnerships for the Goals" is the title of this development goal.

In order not to burden the environment with a lot of air travel in the global network, innovative ways are to be developed for this purpose to also collaborate digitally - via video conferencing, online courses and open source software.

Says Prof. Ziai: "We hope that with the new Exceed center we can contribute to overcoming colonial patterns of thinking and practices and set out on the path to a true global partnership - just as stated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals."

Text: Markus Zens