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01/30/2024 | Wissenschaftliche Standpunkte

DFG: Science for democracy and openness to the world

The German Research Foundation (DFG), the largest research funding organization and central institution for the self-administration of science in Germany, has taken this opportunity to emphasize the importance of science for an open society and liberal democracy and to take a firm stand against the growing right-wing populist and anti-democratic movements and radicalization tendencies.

The President of the DFG, Professor Dr. Katja Becker, made a statement in Bonn ahead of the first decisions in the second round of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments. The panel of experts met there on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, to discuss 143 draft proposals from universities and university alliances for new Clusters of Excellence in the Cluster of Excellence funding line and to decide which planned projects will enter into further competition with the already funded Clusters of Excellence. The DFG is the implementing organization in the Clusters of Excellence funding line of the Excellence Strategy.

At the beginning of the expert panel meeting, Becker explained: "Science has always been open to the world and its cosmopolitanism is essential for our society and liberal democracy. This openness to the world is evident, especially now, in the Excellence Strategy. Almost all of the almost 300 scientists who have reviewed the draft proposals for new Clusters of Excellence in recent months work at scientific institutions outside Germany. In total, experts from more than 20 countries are involved in these first important decisions. In turn, many foreign scientists work in the projects already funded under the Excellence Strategy, some of whom only came to Germany as a result of this highly successful competition. Not only do they all contribute to the increasing competitiveness of German science and universities in international competition and thus to innovation and prosperity - they also enrich our society and coexistence in a climate of openness and tolerance with their backgrounds and experiences.

All of this is irresponsibly and unacceptably jeopardized when, as in recent weeks, right-wing populist and anti-democratic tendencies gain strength and inhumane slogans, anti-Semitism and fantasies of re-migration gain ground. There is no place for them in our society and in science - we must all stand up to them and science as part of society must do so resolutely."

The DFG President continued: "In this crisis-ridden situation for our society and liberal democracy, science shows a particular strength, but it also has a special task: based on evidence and open discourse, it provides the knowledge that is the most effective antidote to fake news and conspiracy theories and at the same time creates the basis for society to face the diverse global challenges of the present and future. Science will therefore continue to actively and emphatically promote a diversity of perspectives, knowledge-based decisions, democracy and openness to the world."