The Humboldt Foundation’s International Climate Protection and German Chancellor Fellowships
Up to 70 potential leaders from different countries participate each year in the Humboldt Foundation’s International Climate Protection Fellowships and German Chancellor Fellowships. Here you can find the reports by Zhong Zhen und Wan Bing, two Chinese Humboldt alumni.
Humboldt Foundation’s International Fellowships
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has been promoting international cooperation in research since 1953 and currently fosters a world-spanning network of more than 28,000 Humboldtians, as the Foundation’s alumni are known, in over 140 countries – including 55 Nobel laureates. Every year, it grants more than 700 fellowships and awards, bringing academics to Germany from abroad to conduct research projects they have chosen themselves with a host and collaborative partner. Academics from Germany can also become fellows and pursue a research project with a Humboldtian abroad. There is only one qualification needed to become a member of the Humboldt Family: excellence in academic achievement, because the Foundation rejects the notion of quotas – for countries as well as for academic disciplines.
Humboldt Foundation’s International Climate Protection Fellowships
On the strength of funding provided by the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety under its International Climate Initiative up to 20 International Climate Protection Fellowships are granted to prospective leaders from transition and developing countries annually. They enable fellows to spend a year working on a research-related project in the field of climate protection and climate-related resource conservation in cooperation with a host in Germany.
Lifelong sponsorship for former fellows and alumni
One special feature of the Humboldt Foundation are the opportunities it offers its former fellows and alumni to benefit from lifelong sponsorship. It is no coincidence that the Foundation is often referred to as the Humboldt Family. And its motto is: Once a Humboldtian, always a Humboldtian, because even after the first research stay has come to an end, the Foundation remains in close contact with its alumni, continuing to provide flexible support for every Humboldtian’s individual path and development, and their collaboration with one another.
The example of Zhong Zhen shows just how well this works in practice. Today, she is an assistant professor in the College of Art at Xiamen University and still in contact with her German host and the other collaborative partners she met in Germany. In July last year, her institute and Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences held a joint workshop on Upcycling in Xiamen. And in 2015, the young mother is planning her next visit to Germany. ‘I made friends for life there and met with great openness and friendship.’ At the end of September 2014, a regional networking meeting for the Humboldt Foundation’s former climate protection fellows took place in Indonesia, to which Zhong Zhen was also invited. Since her stay in Germany, interdisciplinary exchange has become essential to her. ‘My fellowship in Germany was a unique experience. Working together with academics in other disciplines enriched my work and helped me to see my project in a new light.’
China as an important partner of Humboldt Foundation
The Humboldt Foundation has traditionally received a large proportion of applications from China: every sixth applicant is Chinese and the country is one of the Foundation’s most important partners. In addition to research fellowships, which are open to candidates from all countries, the German Chancellor Fellowship for Prospective Leaders is one of the Humboldt Foundation’s sponsorship programmes that specifically targets applicants form China. It allows young graduates to pursue their own professional projects with a collaborative partner in Germany. Although originally introduced for the USA and Russia, the programme is under the patronage of the Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who initiated the inclusion of China in 2005 as well as Brazil and India in 2013.
The Chinese economist, Wan Bing, became a German Chancellor Fellow in Munich in 2010. His project aimed to promote business relations between Germany and China in the field of environmental technology. In retrospect, he notes, ‘The fellowship helped me get a panoramic view of Germany and gave me the confidence and security to continue pursuing a career that connects Germany with my own country, China.’ And this is certainly what he did: today, he is a project manager at Siemens Healthcare, managing intellectual property issues in emerging markets like China from his base in Germany.
Humboldt Foundation’s German Chancellor Fellowships
Under the German Chancellor Fellowship Programme up to ten fellowships are awarded annually to potential leaders from Brazil, China, India, Russia and the USA respectively. The funding to finance the fellowships is provided by the Federal Foreign Office. During a one-year stay in Germany, German Chancellor Fellows cooperate with specialist colleagues at a German host institution where they conduct a project they have chosen themselves. Applications for German Chancellor Fellowships can be submitted up to 15 September every year.
Humboldt fellows as ambassadors for Germany
Even though the sponsorship period has come to an end, Wan Bing’s contact with the Humboldt Foundation continues. In 2014, he was nominated by the Foundation to take part in the 5th Lindau Meeting on Economics Sciences in August, an event that brought together 18 Nobel laureates in economics and 460 junior researchers from around the world. And in addition, the World Childhood Foundation invited all the participants to take part in a competition this year. The aim was to develop a marketing strategy to enable companies to engage with society by cooperating with Childhood. Wan Bing won the competition with ‘Love knows no distance’, a campaign on behalf of children and parents in China separated by labour migration.
He received the ‘Global Childhood Award 2014’ from the founder of the Childhood Foundation, Queen Silvia of Sweden, herself. He subsequently even met the German Chancellor and was able to tell her that the German Chancellor Fellowship was responsible for him still being in Germany. ‘Thanks to the Humboldt Foundation’s nomination I have been able to gain unique experience and impressions that will stay with me forever,’ says the proud Humboldtian.
Zhong Zhen also wants to be an ambassador for Germany, continuing to promote international cultural dialogue and academic exchange. ‘I try to follow current research on environmental topics and am always inspired when I can share ideas with experts from other countries and fields.’ In the last few years, China has started to rethink, according to Zhong Zhen, and ideas like vertical gardens and green walls in cities are becoming more accepted. Zhong Zhen and Wan Bing will both keep playing their part in finding answers to the global questions of our times.