The project “Facing Challenges of Internationalization Together: A Network for Diplomatic Resilience at the Berlin University Alliance” aims to provide assistance in acute diplomatic crises at universities and thus to strengthen the BUA institutions’ ability to respond when unforeseeable events arise. The project also seeks to go beyond “permanent crisis mode” and to promote instead a continuous, long-lasting engagement with the challenges of internationalization in research by developing recommended courses of action. BUA intends to test three types of measures and, if they prove successful, to establish them in the long term: an internal, rapid, and confidential advisory system; a long-term, expertise-based reflection on the position of universities in the new environment of internationalization; and a sensitization to the diplomatic challenges of internationalization across institutional and disciplinary boundaries.
Dr. Herbert Grieshop, director of the Division of International Affairs at Freie Universität Berlin, who applied for project funding on behalf of BUA, says:
“Global cooperation in research remains of central importance, and all the more so in the context of climate change and the pandemic, which is only now drawing to a close. For several years now the issue of cooperation with partners in authoritarian regimes and academic freedom has been pushed to the forefront. The accumulation of serious political and diplomatic crises with different countries makes it clear that the problem must be understood and addressed not as an unfortunate coincidence, but as something that requires long-term consideration.”
In order to navigate the new global scientific landscape, universities should pool their regional and disciplinary expertise much more than they have done so far, share their experiences, and take on shared responsibility in handling diplomatic challenges. Moreover, they should reflect across disciplines on their position in this new global situation together with non-academic partners.
The Volkswagen Foundation has approved funding for the project as part of its initiative “Pioneer Projects – Impetus for the German Research System.” The goal of the program is to enable improvements to the German science system by supporting the development of innovative intellectual and practical approaches in governance, administration, research, teaching, and transfer.