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The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s German Chancellor Fellowship: ‘A gateway to a new professional world’

Every year, up to 50 applicants are awarded a ‘German Chancellor Fellowship for Tomorrow’s Leaders’ by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. We interviewed two former Fellowship holders to find out what the Fellowship had meant for their careers.

Dr. Olga Sveshnikova says that winning a German Chancellor Fellowship was 'a gateway into a whole new professional culture and a new way of seeing things.’ She was teaching sociology at the State University of Omsk when, in 2011, she was given approval to conduct her research into archaeological expeditions as an element of culture as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Bremen’s Research Centre for East European Studies. Since the end of the Fellowship period, Dr. Sveshnikova has stayed in Germany: she told the Alumniportal that ‘the political and social situation in Russia has changed’ and she is not sure it is safe to return with her two young children.

German Chancellor Fellowship holders as intermediaries

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s German Chancellor Fellowship programme is targeted at internationally-oriented graduates from Brazil, China, India, Russia and the USA who have initial research experience. Fellowship holders represent a wide range of fields, but candidates from the humanities, law, social sciences, and economics are particularly welcome.

The aim of the programme is to offer future leaders from specific countries the opportunity to spend a lengthy period in Germany in the early stages of their career. Then, if they later take up positions of leadership in business, research or policy back in their home countries, they act as intermediaries between those countries and Germany.

The German Chancellor Fellowship boosts intercultural competence

Fellowship project proposals should not merely be socially relevant but should also have a sustainable and tangible impact. They should also advance the Fellowship holder’s career development. The aim of the programme is to enable the Fellowship holders to use their time in Germany to deepen their specialist expertise, acquire international experience and boost their intercultural skills. Dr. Sveshnikova says, ‘The programme doesn’t just involve carrying out a project; it’s a window into the world of other professional cultures. Meeting US and Chinese Fellowship holders is a wonderful opportunity to share cultures.’

The German Chancellor Fellowship boosts intercultural competence

Fellowship project proposals should not merely be socially relevant but should also have a sustainable and tangible impact. They should also advance the Fellowship holder’s career development. The aim of the programme is to enable the Fellowship holders to use their time in Germany to deepen their specialist expertise, acquire international experience and boost their intercultural skills. Dr. Sveshnikova says, ‘The programme doesn’t just involve carrying out a project; it’s a window into the world of other professional cultures. Meeting US and Chinese Fellowship holders is a wonderful opportunity to share cultures.’

Alumni make contacts in the Humboldt network

The German Chancellor Fellowship programme aims to network Fellowship holders during their twelve months in Germany with other Fellowship holders funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Olga Sveshnikova has seen this in action: ‘Yes, that’s how it works! And it’s now an important part of my life. I don’t regularly meet up with the 2010/2011 Fellowship holders, because we all live in different countries and even on different continents, but we do keep in touch. For example, just last week I took part in an online seminar in New York with another Fellowship holder from my cohort.’ She also believes it is important to support new Fellowship holders: ‘When I arrived in Bremen, the German Chancellor Fellowship alumni from previous cohorts were really helpful to me. I believe that this support is like a relay race and that I’m now responsible for passing on the baton.’ Sveshnikova is currently mentoring two Russian colleagues applying for a German Chancellor Fellowship.

Dr. Davidson-Schmich has also kept in touch with other former Fellowship holders: ‘I’ve attended several annual alumni get-togethers, in Washington, Sacramento, Berkeley, and Columbus’, she says.

The importance of the German Chancellor Fellowship for holders’ future careers

For both Fellowship holders, winning a Fellowship was of incalculable importance in their academic careers. ‘The Fellowship enabled me to finish my thesis’, says Dr. Davidson-Schmich, ‘and the follow-up funding meant I continued to be employed after I’d submitted. A workshop I hosted at my own university resulted in a further edited publication, and that, too, will help my case for promotion as full professor. And the funding enabled me to combine work and family and to bring my husband and children to Germany on a number of occasions.’

Dr. Olga Sveshnikova, too, sees her German Chancellor Fellowship as a vital stepping-stone in her career: ‘I really believe that the impact of the Fellowship and my time in Germany will go on reverberating throughout my life. The value of the Fellowship is incalculable.’

Discussion on the Chancellor Fellowship in the community

Have you been able to spend time in Germany as a result of a German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation? What was your experience? Or are you thinking of applying for a Fellowship? Discuss your questions and experiences with the German Chancellor Fellowship in our Community!

Community group ‘Studium und Forschung’ (Study and Research)

In the official group for Alexander von Humboldt Foundation alumni, you can meet or catch up with other researchers from around the world, share experiences and insights, and make personal and professional contacts.

Community group for Alexander von Humboldt Foundation alumni

Author: Sigrid Born

July 2013

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Comments

Reuben Bernard Mataso
22 March 2018

My name is Reuben Bernard Mataso.
I am a Tanzanian aged 50 years. I am interested for Chancellor fellowship in the field of environment.
With this age Can I apply?

Annie MUKOSA
25 August 2015

can I win a fellowship at the age of 52 with a first degree?
to find out why African women are not interested in politics

Adel Rizk
13 August 2015


Can I apply for the Chancellor fellowship in the field of
Renewal Energy ,Solar systems ,as we strongly need it
in egypt ?

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