Held on November 11-12 in Berlin, leading scientists and scholars from Germany and abroad convened at the 12th Forum on the Internationalization of Sciences and Humanities to discuss the overarching conference theme, Academic Freedom and Responsibility Towards Society: Who Decides What Science We Do. Organized by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the forum aims to understand how changing needs in societies around the world affect the science researchers do – and what researchers should and can do in order to uphold a freedom that goes beyond academia, but ultimately is the condition for academic freedom as well.
Entitled, Allocating Resources in The Race for Scientific Dominance: Research Funding and Academic Freedom,APRU Secretary General, Dr. Christopher Tremewan, honed in on the importance of cross-border collaboration as a necessary condition for maintaining and advancing academic freedomin his conference address.
“Our task must be to aggregate at scale at the international level the social power of knowledge and innovation through neutral platforms; to speak to the kind of world we want to create, the kind of values we aspire to uphold in our societies and in the international community, and to securing the future through commitment to the global common good,” said Dr. Tremewan.
The massive expansion in international scientific collaboration over the last 30 years has produced a system of open networks that does not mirror geopolitical power and is not directly subject to national governance regimes; however, recent geopolitical developments, such as the rise of nationalistic populism and ethnic essentialism, have hindered the creation of global common good. A mix of top-down and bottom-up funding mechanisms in the academic field has also resulted in granting varying degrees of academic freedom to researchers.
“An increasing contradiction between research for the global common good and research for national economic and political objectives exacerbates the gap between the social and geographic locations of research on solving global crises and where disasters and disease burdens, for example, have greatest impact,” said Dr. Tremewan.
In the APEC region, the geopolitical dynamic of competition and collaboration by nations in the drive for technological leadership for national security and economic growth is fierce and complex. Accounted for 60 percent of global GDP and 47 percent of global trade, the Asia Pacific has an estimated 40 percent of the world’s population, which includes the most major research powers, such as US, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Australasia and Russia.
National funding regimes and the limits imposed or incentives provided by governments of various kinds need to be viewed in their geopolitical context. A focus on the network effects of neutral international platforms and the global common good may provide the research funding community a way to select themes and topics, and to maximize academic freedom and research impact even in the midst of increasing constraints.
Working in a de-centralized maner, as a network of 50 leading research universities from 17 APEC economies around the Pacific, APRU’s network with enormous reach and depth of knowledge is a huge resource especially as other forms of cooperation attenuate or disappear.
The APRU Impact Report 2018 on Transformative Solutions to Asia-Pacific Challenges, is a way through, which APRU amplifies research impact and faciliates creation of the common good. Published case studies and analysis serve as a pillar of interdisciplinary collaborative model between STEM and SSH.
The Humboldt Foundation, based in Germany, promotes academic cooperation between national and international leading scientists and scholars.It is planning a publication on the results and insights that the 12thForum has brought forth, which will be published in the sping of 2019 as a special complement to duz-Deutche Universitätszeitung, a widely-read German monthly on academia and research management.
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