German Federal Minister of Education and Research Visits the GHI

Feb 18, 2010

Lecture at the GHI | Speaker: Annette Schavan

During her recent official visit to the United States, Annette Schavan, German Federal Minister of Education and Research, visited the German Historical Institute and delivered an important speech on the role of the humanities in higher education, research, and society.

Minister Schavan began her talk by calling the GHI an "inspiring" setting for scholarship and an example of the important role that the humanities play in transnational academic exchange. She acknowledged recent German complaints that the humanities were falling behind the natural sciences in terms of research funding and their role in higher education, but argued strongly that the humanities remain crucial in higher education as well as for society at large. She urged scholars in the humanities to assert themselves more self-confidently both in the universities and in public debates. And she also promised them the full support of her Ministry. The lecture concluded with a lively question-and-answer session in which Schavan addressed a number of questions regarding her Ministry's plans for targeted funding programs for German universities (Hochschulpakt) as well as the European context of higher education policy.

The Minister's speech was preceded by introductory remarks by Hartmut Berghoff (Director of the GHI), Heinz Duchardt (Chairman of the DGIA Foundation), and Klaus Scharioth (German Ambassador to the United States).

Schavan's Ministry funds the Foundation German Humanities Institutes Abroad (Stiftung Deutsche Geisteswissenschaftliche Institute im Ausland, DGIA), of which the GHI forms a part. It was her first visit to the GHI. Her delegation included high-ranking representatives of German academic organization, including the Presidents of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Helmholtz Gemeinschaft, the Vice-President of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the Director of the Humboldt Foundation. A reception gave the Minister and her delegation a chance to meet GHI Research Fellows and staff and to familiarize themselves with the work of the Institute.