Nationwide Campaign Highlights the Value of Free Research!
Over the course of 2020, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) will be running a highly visible nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the principles of free, independent research and its value to an open, informed society. On Monday, 13 January 2020, the aims and selected features of the campaign, which has the motto DFG2020 – Because Research Matters, were presented by the new DFG President Professor Katja Becker in Berlin. "The purpose of the campaign is to show how essential knowledge and the sciences and humanities are and why it's especially important at the present time to recognise that they matter," said the medical scientist, who took over the presidency of the largest research funding organisation and central self-governing body of the research community in Germany on 1 January.
The campaign coincides with the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the DFG's predecessor organisation, the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft, in 1920. "What we are celebrating this year is not the 100-year history of an institution, but the 100th anniversary of science-driven research funding. This principle, established during a period of severe austerity, has been a success story since then. But academic freedom can no longer be taken for granted everywhere, despite the fact that it is becoming increasingly important in the face of global challenges such as climate change, species loss, resource scarcity and population growth," said Becker at a press conference at Berlin's WissenschaftsForum. "We want to show the general public our commitment to independent academic research and inspire them to advocate for it too."
This goal is to be achieved by "DFG2020 - Because Research Matters" with numerous activities and, according to Becker, "even unusual formats".
A key element of the campaign is the #fürdasWissen ("forKnowledge") expedition with its own specially designed tour bus, which was presented at the press conference at Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt. Starting in the spring, members of the theatre and performance collective Kompanie Kopfstand will be touring Germany on behalf of the DFG, engaging with the public at around a dozen locations and talking about the importance of academic research, expectations of it and trust in it. The artists will be supported by researchers from local universities and institutes.
The expedition will tour both larger university towns and smaller towns with less research infrastructure and tradition. "Science matters to everyone, and that's why it needs to engage with everyone: people who are already interested in academic research but especially those who haven't had much contact with it before," said the DFG President. "We aim to share our enthusiasm for the potential of science as well as show the workings and limitations of the scientific endeavour."
Introducing these and other activities, the new DFG President expressly linked the goals of the DFG2020 – Because Research Matters campaign with her own personal mandate in her new role. "Science can't solve the world's problems on its own – but many of these problems can only be solved with a research-driven approach," said Becker, speaking from her own experience as a scientist in tropical medicine. What we need is academic research that is independent and that generates knowledge and value as a result of scientific curiosity, rather than this knowledge and value being predefined. Only the freedom to think and diversity at all levels – in terms of researchers, funding formats, topics and national and international cooperation – enable truly new combinations, ideas and real innovation. We need to raise awareness of this, and this is something I feel personally committed to, in all areas of society."
The detailed press release of the DFG dated 13 January 2020 can be found here.
Regularly updated information and materials on the campaign, the expedition, online activities and more can be found at https://dfg2020.de/en/