Crossing Borders 2007 The Volkswagen Foundation – Policies and ...


Crossing Borders 2007 The Volkswagen Foundation – Policies and ...

Crossing Borders 2007

The Volkswagen FoundationPolicies and Priorities
































The Foundation in Brief

A Foundation of Knowledge

Mission and Concept




Finance and Administration

Investment Management


Core Principles

Funding Concept

Funding Profile

Review and Decision

International Funding

Cooperation in Partnership

Objectives and Requirements

Information and Contact

Examples of Funding

How Keeping an Eye on the Language Helps to Understand the World

A Look into the Cockpit of Ants and Fruit Flies

Hard on the Track of the Greek-Arabic-Latin Tradition

Full of Verve and Creative Potential

Sun and Warmth, Forests and Pastures

Sharks on the Up

Learning from Sudan

The Foundation’s Funding Initiatives

Support of Persons and New Structures

International Focus

Thematic Impetus

Social and Cultural Challenges

Off the Beaten Track – Extraordinary Projects

Funding Principles

Who’s Who

Funding Initiatives

Support of Persons and

New Structures

International Focus

Thematic Impetus

Social and Cultural Challenges

Off the Beaten Track

Funding Initiatives

• Lichtenberg Professorships 56

• Schumpeter Fellowships for Future Leaders in Management

Studies, Economics, Law, and the Social Sciences


• Focus on the Humanities 58

• University of the Future 59

• Symposia and Summer Schools 60

• Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects

in Sub-Saharan Africa


• Between Europe and the Orient – A Focus on Research

and Higher Education in/on Central Asia and the Caucasus


• Documentation of Endangered Languages 64

• Innovative Methods for Manufacturing of

Functional Surfaces


• New Conceptual Approaches to Modeling and Simulation

of Complex Systems


• Evolutionary Biology 67

• Future Issues of our Society – Analysis, Advice

and Communication between Academia and Practice


• Key Issues in the Humanities – Program for the Promotion

of Interdisciplinary and International Cooperation


• “Deutsch Plus” – A Program for Multilingualism in Teaching

and Research


• Extraordinary Projects 72

• Science, the Public, and Society 73

Copyright VolkswagenStiftung, 2007


Published by


Hanover, August 2007


Beate Reinhold

Press and Public Relations

Dr. Christian Jung

The articles on pages 16 to 53

were written in German by their

respective authors.


Daniel Smith, Bremen


Sponholtz Druckerei GmbH


ISSN 1618-0577

Unless stated otherwise, the

photos and pictures were kindly

provided by the supported



pages 4, 88: Franz Fender, Hanover

page 6: Frank Nürnberger, Berlin

pages 7, 61: Gobabeb Training and

Research Center, Namibia

pages 11, 63: Agentur Bildschön,


pages 22, 23, 24 top and center:

Harald Wolf, Berlin

page 24 below: Matthias

Wittlinger, Ulm

pages 25, 26 top, 27, 29, 32, 34, 35,

47, 70: Klaus Siebahn, Güstrow

page 45: Shark Trust, Jeremy

Stafford-Deitsch, Plymouth (GB)

page 49 center and below: Courier

Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg,

Band 78, 1985, Frankfurt/Main

pages 49 top, 50, 51, 53, 69: dpa,

picture alliance, Frankfurt/Main

page 60 below: Nordbayerischer

Kurier, Bayreuth

page 68: Institut für Europäische

Politik, Berlin

A Foundation of Knowledge



Fostering Creativity through

Global Philanthropy

Globalization has become a ubiquitous catchword,

an ideologically charged term, and sometimes it is

even considered as the magic hallmark of our time.

Definitions of its meaning differ widely, depending

on the professional, socio-political and cultural

background of the person you ask. But there is one

thing everyone agrees on: the basic prerequisite

of thinking and acting globally is a global perspective.

But this leads to a further problem: what is a

global perspective?

From our point of view – that of a Germany based,

internationally engaged independent foundation

supporting research and higher education – it

means first and foremost that we must have an

informed interest in, and knowledge about other

regions instead of projecting our own vision on

the rest of the world. There should be curiosity,

sensitivity and sympathy towards other cultures,

life styles, and social arrangements – and last, but

not least, the basic awareness of how interdependent

we all are.

We live in a highly complex, largely science and

technology driven world. The enormous changes

we have been witnessing across the political

landscapes as well as the public and private infrastructures

over the past fifteen years are merely

a foretaste to the challenges ahead. Coping with

changes and challenges of such a huge dimension

not only requires flexibility and spiritedness, but

also creativity.

We will have to realign our concepts and ideas,

reconfigure traditional approaches, develop and

implement new solutions. Original and innovative

thinking is required, regardless whether problems

have to be handled in Europe, Africa or any other

Dr. Wilhelm Krull, Secretary General

region of the world. Issues like climate change or

global health show that our responsibility must

not be confined by accustomed boundaries. There

is an urgent need for fostering creativity through

global philanthropy.

This especially applies to international grantmaking

in the area of higher education and research

as the creation of new knowledge provides the

basis for ensuring social welfare, sustainable

development, and continuous growth. The future

not just of Europe but of all of us, and perhaps particularly

of Europe in the face of its demographic

development, rests with its ability to break new

ground, to encourage risk-taking, and to think

creatively. When it comes to establishing a culture

of creativity in the sphere of science and scholarship,

there are at least seven aspects which have

to be considered:

- Competence: The first precondition is to provide

the best training for the future generation of

academics and to enable researchers in general

to develop their skills as freely as possible.

- Courage: Researchers and funders must both

be courageous and adventurous. Only if you are

prepared to share the risks, you can encourage

people to enter new fields and leave the beaten


- Communication: Thought-provoking discussions

are essential for achieving progress in research,

in particular cross-disciplinary and transcultural

exchanges, but also interactions with the outside


- Diversity: Also in academia, monocultures do

not provide an adequate breeding ground for

exceptional thoughts. New knowledge is usually

formed at the boundaries of established fields,

so the interfaces between these areas of expertise

must be activated.

- Innovativeness: The fifth precondition of success

in achieving breakthroughs is to foster innovativeness.

We have to make sure that we identify

and encourage those researchers who are prepared

to take a risk with unconventional


- Persistence and perseverance: To take new pathways

in a barely known territory requires much

longer timescales than the usual pattern of two

to three years of project funding. It is also important

to allow that mistakes can be made, and

pursuing other directions than originally

planned is possible.

- Serendipity: Definitely, the decisive moment

when a radically new idea emerges or a major

scientific discovery is made cannot be planned

for. But there are numerous examples in the

history of research which prove that it is possible

to establish a particularly stimulating environment

for generating new knowledge.

As for the Volkswagen Foundation, I do see that

we already have embarked on this track. As an

auto nomous institution we are able to determine

inde pendently the areas where we choose to act

and to adapt to changing needs and prerequisites.

The funding portfolio, its contents and instruments

are constantly reviewed and adjusted, as has

recently been done within our initiative on Central

Asia and the Caucasus. A similar stock-taking

is envisaged for the initiative focusing on sub-

Saharan Africa. There, we will listen again to local

voices, and accordingly align our modes of operation

(as we already did in developing the initial

stages of this funding offer).

I am confident that the Foundation’s endeavors

to contribute to sustainable capacity development

will empower the young generation in the respective

countries with the ability to chart its own

future. And I am sure that establishing symmetric

partnerships between researchers from Germany

and abroad will result in innovative perspectives

and new approaches on both sides. Ultimately, it

is only the ability to see beyond one’s own horizon

and to mobilize one’s creativity that will enable us

to cope with the global challenges ahead.

Crossing Borders 2007 5


The Foundation in Brief

A Foundation of Knowledge

Established in 1961 by the Government of the Federal

Republic of Germany and the State of Lower

Saxony as an independent research funding institution,

the Volkswagen Foundation has a strong

tradition in providing support for all branches of

science and scholarship. Its slogan “A Foundation

of Knowledge” reflects both a commitment to reliability

as well as flexibility in generating impulses

for the advancement of innovation and knowledge.

Average annual funding in the amount of some

€100 million over recent years makes the Hanover

based Foundation the most potent private research

funding foundation in Germany. To date, the Volks -

wagen Foundation has allocated €3.3 billion to some

28,400 projects in Germany and all over the world.

Mission and Concept

What is the significance of the humanities for the knowledge society? Lectures surrounding

this topic held during the opening conference for the Foundation’s initiative “Focus on the

Humanities” drew a large audience. The initiative was set up by the Volkswagen Foundation

together with three other private funding organizations.

According to the will of its founders, the purpose

of the Volkswagen Foundation is to support the

humanities and social sciences as well as science

and technology in higher education and research.

The statutes ensure its independent legal existence

and its character as a non-profit organization.

Since taking up its activities in 1962 the Foundation

has proved to be a dedicated and flexible funding

partner. Autonomous and economically self-sufficient,

it is completely free to determine and develop

its funding instruments and the topics it decides

to support. The Foundation’s funding concept is

not static. This makes it possible to shift focus at

any time, to take the initiative, to provide sustainable

impulses, and to be able to act should support

be needed for tackling urgent problems.

The Foundation’s initiative on Africa is characterized by its thematically

oriented calls for proposals. The research issues and

forms of cooperation have in advance been discussed in joint

workshops of African and German academics. In September 2006

one of these meetings was held in the impressive atmosphere

of the Gobabeb research station in Namibia; the photo shows

Professor Peter Wanyande, University of Nairobi.

The Volkswagen Foundation constantly reviews

its funding portfolio in pursuit of overriding

objectives. These include a preference for transdisciplinary

issues and approaches, support for the

upcoming generation of researchers, and the reinforcement

of international cooperation. The Foundation

also updates its funding offers in accordance

with the developments and needs of general

research objectives, both in Germany and other

regions of the world.

It is in this spirit that the Foundation increasingly

offers initiatives to provide support for outstanding

researchers working beyond the mainstream

of their disciplines. Those persons and ideas are

especially welcome that dare to cross borders in

more than one meaning of the phrase – borders

between countries or continents, between disciplines

or concepts of mind, between generations

or societies. By being given the opportunity to

develop their own profile, such academics broaden

the horizon of the respective discipline and may

also sharpen the profile of their university.

The Foundation also opens up new pathways for

research in and on foreign countries, focussing on

the cooperation of academics in symmetric partnerships.

This especially applies for the initiative

“Knowledge for Tomorrow”, which is directed at

African countries south of the Sahara, but also for

its engagement in Central Asia and the Caucasus.


The Volkswagen Foundation was set up with independent

legal statutes under civil law in the year

1961. It started its activities in 1962. Although the

Volkswagen automobile manufacturer was at the

beginning of things, the Foundation is not in any

way part of the company’s corporate philanthropy.

Following the end of World War II the ownership

of the Volkswagen Corporation was unclear and

claims were asserted from several sides. This situation

was finally regulated by a treaty between

the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of

Lower Saxony, which turned the automobile manufacturer

into a joint stock company and fixed the

establishment of a research funding foundation.

60 percent of the share capital of the Volkswagen

Corporation was put into private hands by a special

public offering, and the Governments of Germany

and Lower Saxony retained 20 percent each.

The proceeds from this privatization (at that time

1,074 million German marks) together with the

profits accruing to those holdings provided the

endowment of the newly founded Foundation. It

is this to which the Volkswagen Foundation owes

its existence as well as its name.


Today the Foundation’s assets amount to €2.4

billion. The Foundation’s funding activities are

financed from earnings on investments, capital

assets being invested so as to obtain the optimum

long-term yield. Earnings also accrue from returns

on the VW shares held by the State of Lower Saxony,

nominal value €77.3 million. There was a similar

arrangement with the Federal Government

of Germany; when it sold its shares in 1988, the

Foundation received the proceeds amounting to

€0.4 billion.

Crossing Borders 2007 7



The Foundation is governed by the Board of

Trustees. It comprises 14 eminent persons drawn

from the domains of academia, politics, and industry

(see page 88), of whom seven are appointed by

the Federal Government and seven by the State of

Lower Saxony. Their period of office is five years

and they can be reappointed for one further term.

The Trustees are completely independent and

responsible only to the Foundation’s statutes.

The Board usually convenes about three times a

year to discuss and formulate strategy and to decide

on applications. The Trustees are responsible for

the annual budget and the annual accounts, as

well as the publication of the Foundation’s annual

report and appointment of the Secretary General.

Dr. Wilhelm Krull has been General Secretary of

the Foundation since 1996, and is as such responsible

for its management.

Currently the Volkswagen Foundation’s office

has a staff of about 90, mainly spread over four

divisions: There are two divisions dealing with

research funding, one for the natural and engineering

sciences, and one for the humanities and

social sciences; another division cares for finance

and administration, the fourth manages the Foundation’s

assets. The office staff prepare the proposals

for the Board of Trustees and execute the Board’s

decisions. This involves the conceptualization and

implementation of funding initiatives, processing

applications, informing and advising the applicants,

and monitoring the funded projects from

start to finish. In addition, the grants have to be

administered and checked to see that they have

been used correctly and efficiently for the immediate

purpose for which they were allocated.

Finance and Administration

Administering the Foundation’s finances and

budgeting is a task for professional management.

This is provided by the Finance and Administration

Division, which among other things takes

care of the Foundation’s accounting and financial

controlling. In accordance with requirements laid

down in the Foundation’s statutes, this group also

prepares the annual financial statements for the

Foundation’s auditors and ensures the ongoing

internal control of assets.

The unit Human Resources and Central Services

sees itself as a service provider. The group is involved

in the planning and implementation of everything

necessary to efficient staffing and supports the

management in all matters regarding recruitment

and the Foundation’s employees. It also maintains

the infrastructure necessary to ensure the smooth

running of the office.

The group Information and Communication

Systems is responsible for the coordination and

development of the Foundation’s IT requirements.

A total of 90 networked PC stations are linked to

a mainframe computer which runs the Foundation’s

own program for the administration of all

investment as well as funding processes.

Investment Management

The Investment Management Division takes care

of the Foundation’s capital assets, currently €2.4

billion. Their task pursues two main objectives:

One is to ensure the sustained funding of research

projects, the other is to maintain the real value of

the Foundation’s capital in the face of inflationary

pressure. This calls for investment not only in

interest-bearing securities, but also in stocks and

real estate. The investment strategy in these three

main areas is based on the portfolio theory of risk

diversification: the greater the spread and trade

off between risks and opportunities, the greater

the yield.


Core Principles

The Foundation’s support is available to the whole

spectrum of academic disciplines: ranging from

the humanities and social sciences, through the

engineering and natural sciences, including biosciences

and medicine. The Foundation allocates

funding to cover personnel costs for both academic

as well as non-academic staff, for equipment

and running costs, for travel expenses and for


The Foundation is completely autonomous and

free to decide how its funds are to be allocated,

which projects it considers worthy of funding, and

to whom it deems appropriate to grant funds. The

sole restriction is that this be in accordance with

the Foundation’s statutes. Thus, funds are allocated

to academic institutions and not to individuals.

All funding must be designated for a specific purpose

and the Foundation must ensure that such

purposes are extra-budgetary; i.e. that they in no

way substitute or compensate the budget of the

recipient institution.

Funding Concept

The Foundation strives to be an active partner of

scientists and scholars and to generate targeted

impulses for the benefit of the respective national

and international research environment. In pursuance

of this goal it concentrates its support on

specific, carefully selected funding initiatives.

Overriding features of the Foundation’s funding

concept are the preference given to new and

promising fields of research, interdisciplinary

approaches, support for outstanding – and in

particular young – scholars, boosts for international

cooperation, close interrelation between research,

education and training as well as enhancement

of the communication among researchers and

between academia and the public. The funding

initiatives also mirror a commitment to societal

issues. Correspondingly, the scope of funding is

not oriented solely to the needs articulated by the

scientific community. The Foundation’s focus of

attention is also on current developments and

issues where the economy, politics and society

look to academia to provide adequate solutions.

The focus of Dr. Arno Rauschenbeutel’s Lichtenberg Professorship

is on the combination of atomic and molecular quantum optics

with the field of light confinement and control in tapered optical

fibres. He aims at building and operating integrated glass fibre

quantum optical devices which will offer enhanced, or entirely

new functionalities as compared to classical systems.

Crossing Borders 2007 9


Funding Profile

The Foundation’s funding profile is reflected in

the way its portfolio is structured. The following

contains a brief explanation of the categories

under which funding initiatives are bundled

according to area of investigation, target group or

funding instrument. Readers will find an overview

of these categories and corresponding initiatives

on the front inside cover. The individual funding

initiatives are described in more detail following

page 55. Information updates are constantly

posted on the Foundation’s website:


• Support of Persons and New Structures

It is an important aim of the Volkswagen Foundation

to generate impulses for the improvement of

the structural framework and basic conditions of

research and education, as well as scientific communication.

The initiatives under this heading

aim above all at improving the opportunities for

outstanding (young) academics and enabling

discourse in new fields of research.

• International Focus

The international funding initiatives serve to

promote cooperation in partnership and targeted

support for institutions and projects outside Germany.

In pursuit of the latter objective the Foundation

develops specific funding instruments to

fit the circumstances in the various individual

countries and regions concerned. They are aimed

at securing workable collaboration with German

academics and institutions and providing reinforcement

and sustainable support for higher

education and research in the target regions in

Africa and in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Within

the third initiative in this category, researchers

from Germany and countries all over the world –

mostly working in joint projects – are committed

to compiling documentations of endangered


Thematic Impetus

Under this heading the Foundation concentrates

its efforts on basic research concerned with specific

subjects and issues. The goal is to draw attention

to new strands of research, subjects of investigation,

and methodological approaches, thereby

providing stimulus and support to explore new

research approaches and avenues of investigation.

Support is made available for the development

and exploration of cutting edge theories, research

paths, methods as well as interdisciplinary collaboration.

In cooperation with young Sudanese colleagues, Africanists from

Cologne are working on a first compilation of Tima, an endangered

language spoken in the Niger-Congo region. The large

number of documented text types include folk tales, here being

enthusiastically related by an elderly member of this language


• Social and Cultural Challenges

In its work and scope of activities the Volkswagen

Foundation does not allow itself to be led solely by

the needs and developments within the respective

research community. Indeed, the Foundation

perceives a compelling mission to respond precisely

in those areas where politics and administration,

the economy and society are in need of

orientation and support. An example for this is

the initiative “Future Issues of our Society”. On the

basis of applied research, this aims at stimulating

and reorganizing learning processes with the

inclusion of science, politics and the public sphere.

• Off the Beaten Track – Extraordinary Projects

The Foundation may also be interested in supporting

exceptionally worthy projects which lie outside

the scope of its current funding program. The

aim is to provide a forum for ideas and concepts

which involve future-oriented issues and are

capable of opening up new perspectives by combining

different disciplines and methodological

approaches. However, this offer is open only to

truly exceptional schemes. In order to be successful,

proposals must not only meet the highest

scientific demands. Applicants must also be able

to show that their concept does not fit within the

funding scope of any other institution. Due to the

exceptionally rigorous demands placed on such

projects, applicants are advised in every case to

first submit a draft proposal before embarking

on a full-scale application.

• Niedersächsisches Vorab

The Foundation’s statutes prescribe that a certain

part of the funds distributed by the Volkswagen

Foundation must be made available to research

institutions located in the State of Lower Saxony.

The Board of Trustees decides on the allocation

of these grants (called Niedersächsisches Vorab)

acting on recommendations made by the Lower

Saxony State Government.

Experts on Central Asia and the Caucasus were invited by the

Volkswagen Foundation for an exchange of experiences, especially

in the framework of its respective funding initiative. Among the

audience were Secretary General Dr. Wilhelm Krull (right) and

Professor Ingeborg Baldauf from the Humboldt-Universität in

Berlin (second from right) who co-organized the event.

Review and Decision

The Volkswagen Foundation is committed to the

principles of peer review. It usually asks several

external experts to review proposals prior to any

final decision being made. There is no permanent

stock of experts, but, depending on the subject

and the structure of the proposal, the Foundation

seeks expert opinions from different disciplines,

universities and institutes, also from the nonuniversity

sector and from abroad. If deemed

appropriate the applications are submitted for

review by a panel of experts. The Foundation

mostly convenes such meetings of experts when

it seems advisable to initiate a direct discourse

between experts from different disciplines – due

to the interdisciplinarity of the subject involved,

for instance.

From 733 expert opinions all told, 246 researchers

from foreign countries contributed their expertise

in 2006. The Foundation would like to thank all

experts once again and points out that their reviews

were rendered on an honorary basis.

Once an application has been approved, the allocated

funds are transferred to the recipient institution

for it to administer. One of the conditions

attached to funding is that the Volkswagen Foundation

receives an annual report on the development

of the project in addition to proper accounts,

recording how the allocated funds have been spent.

Crossing Borders 2007 11


International Funding

Cooperation in Partnership

The “International Focus” category of the Foundation’s

funding portfolio embraces those initiatives

that are explicitly oriented towards research in

and on foreign countries. Two main objectives are

pursued: One aim is to build up and reinforce the

research infrastructure and to enhance scholarly

qualifications in specific target regions. The other

is to draw the attention of German academics

to international research topics and to secure a

stronger international orientation for German

research. In both cases, an important aspect is to

encourage symmetric partnerships between German

researchers and their counterparts in other


What has always been true for the relationship

between developed and developing societies also

applies for the academic sector: all too often in the

past, the field of research has revealed an imbalanced

and unfair sharing of responsibilities, as

well as participation in success. To counter such

imbalances the Foundation places special impor-

Documentation of endangered languages: Movima is the language

of an ethnic group living on the plains of Bolivia; only a

few of them still speak the aboriginal tongue. Researchers are

interested above all in its large number of linguistic peculiarities.

tance on ensuring an equitable involvement

of the scientists and scholars from abroad who

participate in the cooperation projects of the

respective funding initiative.

Within the framework of its initiative “Knowledge

for Tomorrow. Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-

Saharan Africa”, which started in 2003, the Foundation

organized thematic workshops in Africa:

German and African researchers were given the

opportunity to jointly review the status of research,

to define pertinent research issues and to work

out the possibilities and instruments for cooperation

– also between inner-African research institutions.

On the basis of these results the Foundation

subsequently developed thematically defined

calls for proposals that suit the specific needs as

well as the potentials of African researchers.

Capacity building in sub-Saharan Africa shall not

merely entail support for mutual projects, but also

provide targeted support for junior researchers

and the development or expansion of academic

networks inside Africa. The new African generation

of scholars should be given the opportunities

and adequate incentives to pursue their future

careers in their home countries. This would ease

brain drain and ensure that the regions harness

their most valuable expertise to their own benefit.

Likewise, cooperation in partnership plays an

important role in the Foundation’s funding ini -

tiative aimed at enhancing the conditions for

research and education in Central Asia/Caucasus.

Here, too, the aim is especially to support junior

academics in the region; for instance, by promoting

research in close cooperation with German

colleagues, via support for reintegration, and by

infrastructural schemes that encompass academic

teaching projects or special programs of training

and further education. A further aim of the initiative

is to direct the attention of German researchers

to the region: by means of funding projects that

put a focus on the political, socio-economic, cultural,

or also the natural conditions of countries

in the region.

The “Documentation of Endangered Languages” is

another funding initiative with an international

orientation. Here, too, cooperation in partnership,

support for junior academics and the international

exchange of ideas are all important components.

Applications from academic institutions abroad

are also accepted in the context of most of the

other funding initiatives, provided a substantial

cooperation with German institutions is envisaged.

Since its funding profile is being constantly amen -

ded, the Volkswagen Foundation recommends

potential applicants from abroad to obtain updates

either from the Internet or by contacting the office

in Hanover. This refers especially to amendments

to calls for proposals within the framework of

certain initiatives.

Objectives and Requirements

There are varying requirements attached to the

participation of scholars from outside Germany in

the Foundation’s funding initiatives. Whereas the

initiatives under its “International Focus” are aimed

solely at fostering international cooperation and

exchange, applications within the other categories

must explain the necessity for cooperation between

German and scholars from outside Germany.

The pivotal criterion is the “surplus value” to be

expected from the joint project, i.e. the supposed

gain in knowledge. The interdisciplinary approach

prescribed by some of the funding initiatives has

the supplementary effect that research groups

within Germany seek partners in other countries

more frequently. The nature of the proposed col-

laboration must be agreed upon by the participating

groups prior to their submitting applications.

Information and Contact

Applicants in Germany and from abroad should

first obtain updates on the Foundation’s funding

initiatives before submitting their proposals. For

each funding initiative there is an “Information

for Applicants”, containing detailed information

on the topic area and objectives and also listing

the pertinent requirements.

The quickest way to obtain up-to-date information

on the various funding initiatives is to consult

the website

There you will find the current English versions of

“Information for Applicants” for all funding initiatives

open to academics from abroad and details

on how to apply. The Foundation’s website is the

first address for all those interested in the Foundation

and its funding possibilities.

There is also printed information available on the

Foundation, its funding initiatives and the way it

works: The relevant “Information for Applicants”

on the individual funding initiatives and the

leaflet “Basic Information” as well as the detailed

“Jahresbericht” (annual report in German) will

be sent on request. Starting on page 55, this

brochure, too, contains brief descriptions of all

current funding initiatives (as of June 2007).

Should any questions be left unanswered by the

“Information for Applicants”, the applicant may

contact the program manager responsible for

the particular funding initiative. More general

inquiries should be addressed to the Foundation

either by post or by e-mail:


Kastanienallee 35

30519 Hannover, Germany

Crossing Borders 2007 13

Examples of Funding

The following seven examples of the Foundation’s

funding activities underline the diversity of

projects supported in a variety of fields. They

also reflect the basic objectives of its funding

port folio: encouragement to interdisciplinary

approaches, opening of new paths for international

cooperation, and support of promising

young academics.

The articles focus on the documentation of

endangered languages, investigations into the

neuronal capacities of small animals, cooperative

projects with researchers in Central Asia

and Africa, and innovative methods in surface

engineering. In addition, the texts introduce

two young scholars who have seized the chance

of a tenure track perspective – by applying for a

Lichtenberg Professorship.

How Keeping an Eye on the Language Helps to

Understand the World

Beyond the borders of linguistics: Nepalese and

German researchers combine their know-how

February 24, 2004 in East Nepal: Great excitement spreads among

the inhabitants of Chintang village. The village square is crowded,

all eyes are on the men, women and children disembarking from the

fully packed Landrover. People with white skin are rarely seen here,

never mind the equipment they carry: solar generators, video and

photo cameras, and laptops.

People come from far and wide to witness the scene. Even when the evening

is quite advanced, an elderly lady arrives from the neighboring village – after

a five-hour walk. “It was an unusual experience to arrive at a project location

in such a large group”, Balthasar Bickel remembers. “In the past I always came

alone.” But this time the professor of Linguistics from Leipzig is accompanied

by five other research scientists: his wife, the psycho-linguist Dr. Sabine Stoll,

and the developmental psychologist Professor Elena Lieven – both from the

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig – the ethnologist

Professor Martin Gaenszle (now University of Vienna), as well as Profes -

sor Novel Kishore Rai and Vishnu Singh Rai, linguists from the University of

Tribhuvan in Kathmandu.

The German and Nepalese scholars have set themselves a common goal: by

combining their ethnological, linguistic and psychological expertise, they

want to preserve a piece of Nepal’s cultural diversity for posterity. Within the

framework of the funding initiative “Documentation of Endangered Languages”

they are documenting two languages that are in danger of dying out: Chintang

and Puma. The focus of their project “Linguistic and Ethnographic Documentation

of Chintang and Puma, Two Endangered Kiranti-Languages in Nepal”,

which was originally planned for three years and has already been extended

to five years, lies on the every-day as well as ritualistic language of the speech

communities. Furthermore, in a separate study Sabine Stoll and Elena Lieven

are examining the acquisition of language in Chintang children. The Volks wa -

gen Foundation is supporting this project with approximately €750,000.

The Nepalese Kingdom, which has approximately 28 million inhabitants,

boasts over one hundred languages. “The Himalayas is a so-called accretion

zone“, Balthasar Bickel explains. “During the great Eurasian migrations differ-

Funding initiative “Documentation

of Endangered Languages”

– see page 64

Rituals still play an important role in Nepa -

lese life. They sometimes gave rise to special

languages which are mastered only by a

few. The photo captures a ritual sacrifice

taking place in Chintang.

The German researchers must depend to a

great deal on their local project partners: Professor

Bal tha sar Bickel (above, left) is happy

to have secured support for his project in the

person of Lokendra Tele Rai (right), a committed

“language activist”.

Crossing Borders 2007 17


Filming contributes to the documentation

of endangered languages and the culture

from which they derive. The context of some

aspects does not become clear until captured

on film – as in the scene here, which follows

a sacrificial ritual during the Wadhangmi

Festival in Chintang.

ent peoples settled here, all contributing their own cultures and languages.”

Most of these languages – generally only transmitted orally – are highly

endangered. Too strong are the influences, especially those exerted on them

since the end of the Rana-dynasty in 1951: consumer goods, development

programs, new communication technologies – and also the official language

Nepali, which dominates public life and is the predominant language used

for teaching in schools. Although the constitution of 1990 guarantees all

Nepalese people the right to education in their own mother tongue, teaching

resources only exist for very few of the regional languages – and there are

hardly any documents which could aid in the development of such materials.

It seems the DOBES-Team has come to the small remote settlements in the

South Everest region in the nick of time. The Puma and Chintang people now

only number a few thousand. Most adults still have a mastery of their mother

tongue, but the influence of Nepali is increasing. “It is therefore uncertain for

how much longer the language will continue to be passed on to the next

generation”, says Balthasar Bickel. That the collaboration with both communities

has gone so smoothly from the beginning is above all thanks to the Asian

project partners. The documentation in the field is predominantly taken over

by Nepalese linguists and native speakers, who have previously been trained

in modern methods of gathering ethnographic data by the ethnologist Martin

Gaenszle. At regular intervals they record every-day situations, songs, stories,

and ritual practices on video. While still in Nepal the raw data is digitalised,

transcribed and translated into Nepali and English under the supervision of

Novel Kishore Rai and Vishnu Singh Rai. A laborious task. Just to transcribe

one hour of video footage – i.e. to document it word for word and to translate

it into Nepali – a skilled linguist assisted by a native speaker will take 50 to

60 hours. A further 150 to 200 hours are required for attributing the meanings

for each word and the annotations for its grammatical use. Processed in this

manner the data is finally forwarded to the central DOBES archive in the Max

Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, where in various forms,

including via the internet, it will be made available to future (research-)


Balthasar Bickel appreciates this type of research in different locations, which

is also a kind of distance research. “Here in Leipzig I can focus my attention

entirely on the scientific research; in the field however one is always involved

in a social dynamic. This is how we improve our efficiency.” The results, though,

came as a surprise to him and his colleagues. For instance, in addi tion to the

eight officially recognized native speakers for the Chintang they found another

6,500 individuals who speak their mother tongue fluently. But the researchers

were even more surprised, positively astounded, by the unexpectedly high

traditional diversity of the two speech communities. “The Puma cultivate an

extremely lively story-telling tradition with a large number of myths and

stories”, says Martin Gaenszle. “For their numerous rituals they even use a

special ritualistic language mastered by only a few individuals.”

Linguistically the languages are also filled with rarities. Within one village,

Chintang has simultaneously developed two dialects. Furthermore, both languages

are characterized by an unusually rich morphology. Nouns in the Puma

language, for instance, have 13 different cases (in German only four), and there

are virtually thousands of different verb forms. One of the most interesting

observations was that in Chintang it is possible to change the position of parts

of words arbitrarily, whilst retaining quite the same meaning. Such a degree

of flexibility, putting the unity of the word into question, as it were, had previously

been thought impossible. “During the first weeks of the fieldwork

and almost on a daily basis we discovered peculiarities we didn’t recognize

from any other language in the world”, Bickel continues to be amazed today.

“That is comparable to a biologist discovering a new species every day.”

These successes are mainly due to the innovative research approach that

combines ethnological, linguistic and psychological methods. “Some linguistic

phenomena are only identifiable when their cultural and psychological

backgrounds are known. Conversely, grammatical analysis often widens

horizons that ethnologists could not attain on their own.” Both the research

approach of the DOBES researchers as well as the implementation of their

The research team have been completely

accepted and made welcome by their local

partners in the region of East Nepal. These

Chintang women clearly had no reservations

in agreeing to pose for a group photo.

Crossing Borders 2007 19


The “tools of the trade” always on hand:

Professor Martin Gaenszle (below, left) and

Professor Balthasar Bickel. The other photo

shows the Chintang subproject staff in the

office at Dhankuta. From the left: Netra P.

Paudyal, M.A. (staff member for linguistics);

Manoj Rai, M.Ed. (Chintang spokesperson,

responsibilities include transcription, trans -

lation, culture); Dikdal Rai (Chintang spokes -

person, freelance member of the team);

Janak Kumari Rai, B.Ed. (transcription, translation);

Rikhi Maya rai, B.Ed. (transcription,


work has provoked great interest and positive feedback on the part of German

and Nepalese linguists and students. The researchers are also especially

happy with the reaction from the Chintang and the Puma people, who have

been enthralled by the documentation of their languages. “After two days

with the Chintang a village teacher came to us with a list of words, from

which he later wanted to develop school materials“, says Bickel. The first

teaching resources for both languages are now available. Furthermore, the

Puma speakers founded their own cultural society in 2004.

But even successful projects are often threatened by the unexpected – in this

case the instability of the political framework. “It was a big shock to us when

the King attempted to assume absolute power”, remembers Bickel. During

that week following February 1, 2005 all communications between the German

and Nepalese collaborators came to a standstill. “Every step was dangerous,

and journeying into the study area was quite unthinkable.” Right from

the start the ongoing conflict between the anti-monarchist Maoists, the government

and the King hindered the team’s work. Now the situation for the

researchers is more relaxed, and the extra research time – the project went

into extension in January 2007 – is to be used to analyze the already collected

data so that the numerous cultural characteristics and unknown linguistic

phenomena are sufficiently recorded. However, an archive alone will not suffice

to maintain the Chintang and Puma languages. It is therefore of interest

to the researchers that both communities are supported in their aim to conserve

their language: financially, professionally and idealistically. “Many people

mistakenly believe that their solely oral language is of no value and

therefore no longer pass it on to their children”, observes Martin Gaenszle.

And that is precisely the subject that the sub-project on verbal skill acquisition

in Chintang under the supervision of Sabine Stoll und Elena Lieven is

examining. “If you want to understand what endangers the existence of

languages, you have to concern yourself with the elements that influence or

hinder its acquisition”, Stoll explains. Under their supervision the Nepalese

linguist Goma Banjade and two of her assistants have each observed the

verbal development of two children aged two and three years as well as two

infants aged six months for a period of eighteen months. This has produced

up to four hours of video footage per child per month. Stoll and Lieven are

especially interested in the extent to which Chintang and Nepali are already

mixed in the language use of the child’s caretakers and how this is reflected

in a child’s verbal competence. This extended study is not only the most

extensive investigation of verbal skill acquisition in a language which has

not been documented up to now, but also one of the very few data sets that

document the acquisition of a threatened language.

“We know very little about whether the mechanisms used in the acquisition

of European languages are also applicable to languages with a totally different

grammatical structure“, says Stoll. Since the beginning of 2007 she has

therefore been working on a new project with the title “Typology of language

acquisition: a comparative linguistic study of Chintang, Russian, and English”.

It is her aim to systematically compare the verbal data from the six Chintang

children with that of five Russian and four English children – using linguistic,

ethnological and psychological methods. This project is funded by the Volks -

wa gen Foundation and the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung within the framework of a

five year “Dilthey Fellowship”. This fellowship, worth €400,000, is a blessing

for the 38-year-old. “With normal postdocs one is generally concerned with

acquiring further funding after just two years, hence interrupting the actual

work. Large scale projects over longer periods are just not possible under such


Stoll wants to investigate how children learn grammar and how the language

directed at the child influences this learning. For her “mammoth project“ she

has specifically chosen the three languages English, Russian and Chintang,

as they differ significantly in grammatical structure and acquisition context.

For instance, Chintang is a language with high morphological diversity: each

verb has almost a thousand different forms. Russian verbs only have twelve

and English only three. Furthermore, the primary caregiver of English children

in the first few years is generally the mother, whereas up to a few years

ago Russian children grew up in close contact with their grandparents, who

were often even entrusted with their upbringing. The life of the Chintang

people in contrast largely takes place outdoors, and the child is hence immediately

integrated in the community, being constantly surrounded by both

adults and children. Sabine Stoll, herself a mother of two, suspects that the

social and cultural environment of the child, as well as the way in which the

attachment figures communicate with it, all play a significant part in how a

language is acquired.

For now, the research scientist is still at the beginning of her analysis of the

language data. Stoll hopes that the analysis will not only crystallize general

patterns and mechanisms of verbal skill acquisition. It is her declared aim to

reinvigorate comparative language acquisition research in this country. That

it is worth trying unconventional approaches in linguistics is clearly demonstrated

by the DOBES projects. Language is more than a mere means of communication,

Balthasar Bickel concludes poignantly: “Every language is associated

with a specific perspective on the world. Viewing the world from different

perspectives can help us understand why the same species of homo sapiens

lives their world so differently.”

Melanie Ossenkop

Dr. Sabine Stoll is researching into how

young children learn Chintang. Within the

scope of her Dilthey Fellowship she also

conducts comparative studies on language


Crossing Borders 2007 21

A Look into the Cockpit of Ants and Fruit Flies

Two German-Swiss research teams investigate

the neuronal capacities of small animals.

Summer in Tunisia: Year after year a group of Swiss and German

biologists travel to Maharès, a small village on the Mediterranean

coast just south of Sfax. Here in a dried up salt lake under the

scorching African sun they observe Tunisian ants of the species

Cataglyphis fortis. The creatures dash back and forth over the hot

ground, in search of food for their offspring.

Running along criss-crossing paths they sometimes stray more than a hundred

meters from their subterranean nest – only to return on the shortest route.

Should a human want to reproduce a feat similar to that of the ants, he would

have to walk many kilometres in featureless terrain and then find his way

back to the point of origin in a straight line: this is without doubt a highly

difficult task.

How these little insects manage to find their way back to their nest in this

desolate environment is being investigated by the research group surrounding

Professor Rüdiger Wehner from Zurich University, in collaboration with

behavioural physiologist Professor Bernd Ronacher from Berlin’s Humboldt

University, as well as colleagues from Ulm and Jena. The Volkswagen Foundation

is supporting the project with more than €500,000.

“Basically animals can use three methods of orientation”, explains Ronacher.

Firstly, they can mark their way: this ‘Hansel and Gretel strategy’ is used by

European ants. Secondly, animals have the ability to orientate themselves

according to a mental map – mammals and birds are probably capable of

registering their environment on geographical maps in their brain. How ever,

research has found out that Cataglyphis fortis mainly relies on the third

strategy, the so-called route integration. “Desert ants are social insects that

always reconvene at their colony. In order to achieve this, they call on their

outstanding navigation skills. The animals can ‘remember’ how far they

traveled and in which direction from their nest”, explains Wehner. “From

this they then ‘calculate’ the direct way back.”

It is now some three decades since the renowned zoologist first became fascinated

by these elegant desert dwellers. Together with his colleagues he has

A total of 57 projects, including 127

participating groups, have been

funded in the meanwhile terminated

initiative “Dynamics and Adaptivity

of Neuronal Systems”.

In order to examine the orientation ability of

desert ants, scientists from Switzerland and

Germany erect bizarre constructions in the

sand (the picture below shows Gunnar Grah

and Jan Clemens, right, from Berlin).

Crossing Borders 2007 23


The side-on view shows more clearly why

the researchers name this training trail the

Toblerone-channel (after a similarly shaped

chocolate bar); it leads from the ants’ nest

(top, foreground) to a food source (below)

and simulates hilly terrain.

The research subject in close-up: the Tunisian

ant Cataglyphis fortis, here in an aggressive


been able to ascertain that the desert ants orientate via a celestial compass.

Using the polarization pattern from the sunlight, which they sense with

special optic cells on the uppermost edge of their eyes, the animals can determine

by how many degrees their route deviates from the position of the sun.

Special compass neurons in the ant’s brain compute this information. But

how the insects are able to measure the precise distances they cover during

their ‘expeditions’ remains unclear. An optical kilometre gauge, as found in

bees, is apparently not at their disposal. “So we tested the hypothesis that

desert ants record the steps they take”, reports Professor Harald Wolf from

Ulm University. “We manipulated the lengths of the legs and, hence, the

stride lengths, by extending the legs with pig bristles or shortening them.

Subjected to this manipulation were ants after they had reached the feeder

and before they started their homeward runs”, he explains the experiment.

The result was that travel distance was overestimated by animals walking

on “stilts” and underestimated by animals walking on “stumps”. Some days

later, having performed already their outbound runs to the feeder on stilts

and stumps, the animals exhibited their way back to the nest almost identical

to normal, unmodified ants. Thus the scientists arrived at the conclusion that

desert ants use a pedometer for distance measurement, a kind of step integrator,

or loosely speaking a step “counter”.

Within the framework of the current project the researchers also want to

discover how the ant’s integrator works: how do these tiny animals manage

to calculate complex routes? “This could only be achieved with any accuracy

by resorting to trigonometry”, says Ronacher. But since the animals are not

proficient in sine and cosine rules – Wehner likes to call them pre-Pythagorean

beings – they have to implement a different way of calculating.

The researchers have already extensively investigated the ants’ abilities on

level trails. To achieve this they created open channels that were aligned

at various angles along which the animals were led to a food source. The

researchers then observed their choice of homing routes. Now the researchers

have added a third dimension to the trails in order to find out how the ants

include elevation, height and depth in their calculations – this, too, has not

been elucidated up to now. That’s why the researchers no longer simply send

their ants around corners and along bends to find tasty bits of melon or biscuit

crumbs, they now also have to master the ups and downs of ramps. In

order to find their way back to the nest over open and even ground, the animals

have to project the covered route into the horizontal plane – and this

means: while negotiating the various ramps and bends on their outward

journey, they must already be integrating the covered distance on a virtual

level plane.

Actually these artificial mountains and valleys do not perturb the ants the

tiniest bit. “Apparently they are capable of measuring elevation and depression

with a high degree of accuracy”, says Ronacher. “Although certain circumstances

may cause them to make slight systematic mistakes, they find their way back

to their nests – which constitutes a vital necessity for the existence of an

insect state.” How the animals establish whether they are walking up wards

or downwards is the research focus of the fourth collaborator Professor Reinhard

Blickhan from Jena University. The insects may be able to deduce this

information from the different motion sequences of their legs. It could also

be possible, though, that the fine bristles the ants grow along their joints and

limbs provide them with information on the position of the various body parts.

Considering the complexity of orientation on land, orientation in the air with

no ground under your feet must be even more difficult. How flies control their

flight and how they avoid crashing into things during their lightning flight

manoeuvres is the subject of research being carried out by Professor Jonathon

Howard from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

in Dresden in collaboration with the physicist Dr. Martin Zapotocky from

Dresden’s Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems and Dr.

Steven Fry from the Institute of Neuroinformatics at the Swiss Federal Institute

of Technology and the University of Zurich, a renowned expert on insect

flight. “We want to find out which neuronal processes control the daredevil

flying manoeuvres of fruit flies, and which nerves and molecules are involved”,

Howard explains the aim of the common effort.

His research group began by examining the mechanoreceptors located on

the front wings of the fruit fly. Howard outlines: “We assume that the deformation

of the wings during flight exerts pressure on the mechanoreceptors,

which presumably opens certain ion channels. The ion current could then

trigger a neuronal, i.e. electrical signal. This would provide the fly with information

on position and movement of its wings.” But he emphasizes that this

is at present only a theory. “The support from the Volkswagen Foundation

will now enable us to put this theory to the test experimentally.”

What are the neuronal processes that control

the flight manoeuvres of fruit flies? This is

the question two research groups from Dresden

and one from Zurich are trying to answer.

Professor Jonathon Howard and his colleague

Susanne Bechstedt are especially interested

in the wing anatomy and the function of the

sensory organs and receptor cells.

Dr. Martin Zapotocky, from Dresden’s Max

Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex

Systems, is also involved in the interdisci -

plinary Drosophila project. He uses his colleagues’

data to develop a model that can

describe the flight control of the flies.

Crossing Borders 2007 25


At the MPI of Molecular Cell Biology in Dresden

Drosophila are stunned with carbon

dioxide and examined under the binocular

microscope in order to identify those which

are relevant to the experiment.

Dr. Steven Fry and his team in Zurich examine

the fly’s neuronal flight control in the

wind tunnel. The picture shows Nicola Rohrseitz

recording the flight behavior; the

measuring area glows red. Experiments

with transgenic flies are expected to determine

the neuronal pathways that form the

basis of flight control.

The small fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has been chosen as model organism,

as its genome is well understood and molecular manipulations are easily

performed on this species. Already within the first months of the project, the

Dresden researchers successfully used RNAi technology to identify those genes

that are predominantly activated in the mechanoreceptors and hence are of

potential importance for movement in the air. “We specifically knocked out

some of those genes, revealing that individuals manipulated in this manner

prefer to remain on the ground rather than take to the air”, Howard reports.

In order to identify which genes, molecules, neurons, and receptors influence

the flight control of fruit flies, Steven Fry in Zurich measures the flight behavior

of free-flying animals in a purpose-built “virtual reality wind tunnel”. This

is something totally new, he emphasizes.

“We have spent an entire year developing techniques which would enable us

to perform experiments with flying insects in real time. It is into this setting

that we are now able to introduce the transgenic flies from our colleagues in

Dresden in order to explore the neuronal basis of flight control.”

The research teams working on both projects are hoping to find answers

to how nature has solved a problem as com plex as orientation. “Once we

understand this, we might be able to design models and potentially copy this

method”, ant researcher Rüdiger Wehner explains. From the molecular, genetic,

and neuronal data Dr. Martin Zapotocky wants to develop a computer model

by means of which he will be able to imitate the process in which the information

travels from the mechanoreceptors of Drosophila melanogaster along

particular neurons to the brain – and how the brain in turn sends appropriate

neuronal signals to the flight muscles.

The ant researchers in Zurich have already successfully implemented a

simulation. “We have transferred the neuronal circuit of the ant’s sun compass

to the electronic circuit of a robot. That was a relatively simple model,

and it enabled us to copy the behavior of Cataglyphis”, Wehner explains.

Markus Kaden, one of his postdocs, successfully took the model simplicity

to the extreme. He constructed a technical instrument that mastered route

inte gration on a purely mechanical basis. Nevertheless, one has to acknowledge

a fundamental restriction in such model experiments: “You never know

whether the animals might possess additional, more complex means of

cognition and processing other than those we are currently aware of.” Even

after his thirty years of close contact with these ants, or perhaps because of

it, the zoologist is still in awe of their cognitive ability. “It is astonishing that

an creature with a brain the mass of just 0.1 milligrams can be capable of

such complex mathematical calculations.” Quantity is after all not equal to


Dr. Karin Hollricher

Hard on the Track of the Greek-Arabic-Latin Tradition

An interview with Professor Dag Hasse from the

Institute for Philosophy, Würzburg University

Since the autumn of 2005, Professor Dag Nikolaus Hasse (37) has

been teaching and researching as a Lichtenberg Professor for Philo -

sophy and the History of Science of the Greek-Arabic-Latin Tradition

at the University of Würzburg. The Bremen-born scholar studied

medieval and early modern history, classical philology, philosophy

and Arabic studies.

After graduating he spent a year at Yale University; in 1997 he received his

PhD at the Warburg Institute of the University of London for his dissertation

on the Arab philosopher and physician Avicenna. Further stations in his

career: the Universities of Tübingen and Freiburg, where Hasse completed

his Habilitation. Until 2005 he was working as an assistant professor at the

University of Würzburg. This is where for the next few years he will be busy

setting up a new interdisciplinary subject of studies and, among other

things, be editing the Latin commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics by the

Arab scholar Averroes. Mareike Knoke interviewed him on the topic of support

for junior academics and interdisciplinary research.

Mr Hasse, why are you so fascinated by the Arab language and culture?

Hasse: Apart from the aesthetic appeal contained in the Arabic script, I am

particularly attracted by the cultural achievements of mediaeval Islam. The

Arabs translated the works of the Greek philosophers and scientists into Arabic.

They were much influenced by Aristotle, Ptolemy or Euclid. But they did

not content themselves with merely translating these Greek scholars; they

went on to conduct an intensive examination of their theories – going on to

expound on these further. Take, for example, the Arabs’ ingenious planetary

models. I am also thinking of Averroes, the Arab scholar who lived in Andalusia

in the 12th century and wrote his commentaries on the works of Aristotle

while working in Cordoba and Sevilla. Science, art, and literature: all have a

long and deep-rooted tradition in Arabic society. This also explains the significance

that European academics of the Middle Ages attached to Arabic works

and, above all, why they went to the trouble of translating them into their

own academic language, that of Latin. This took place primarily on the Iberian

Funding initiative “Lichtenberg


– see page 56

Bookrest instead of a laptop: the study of

sources and their comparison are a big part

of the work of Lichtenberg Professor Dag

Nikolaus Hasse at the University of Würzburg.

Crossing Borders 2007 27


Aided by his team, the Lichtenberg Professor

(second from right) is conducting research into

how philosophy and science was “transferred”

from Greek to Latin via Arabic. Our photo

shows from the left: Christian Stidronski,

Katrin Fischer, Raphael Kretz, Dr. des. Stefan

Georges, PD Dr. Reinhard Kiesler, Peer Otte,

Isabelle Gierz.

Peninsula, where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together in close proximity

over several centuries.

Were the Arab scholars part of the general academic curriculum of those days?

Hasse: Yes, absolutely. Names like Averroes, Avicenna, the physician, or Albumasar,

the astrologer: they were all well-known to virtually every student in

the occident. After all, that is no wonder when you consider the contribution

Arabs made to modern science. In mathematics, algebra, for instance; in

chemistry, alchemy; in pharmacology, prescription literature. In the field of

engineering, irrigation systems; in literature, story-telling structures and

motifs. Not to forget: the important stimuli given to architecture.

What do you intend to focus on as a Lichtenberg Professor in Würzburg?

Hasse: By studying the Greek influence on Arabic and the Arabic influence

on Latin culture, I want to revive a forgotten legacy, and illustrate why the

occident became so enthralled with Arabic science and culture. In what way

were Arabic theories assimilated, perceived and disseminated, and what

were the consequences?

How did it come about that the Arab academics were relegated to oblivion at

the beginning of modern times?

Hasse: A feature of the Renaissance, which reached its zenith at the end of the

15th century in Europe, was that it shunned medieval and Arabic traditions.

Influential humanists stipulated that the Greeks should resume dominance

over the Arabs in university studies, Hippocrates or Galen, for instance. It

wasn’t until the early 20th century, at the height of colonialism, that scholars,

especially in France, once again turned to a more intensive examination of

the influence of Arabic culture on the Middle Ages. Similar research was taking

place in Germany, too. But the Nazis drove away many of the excellent

academics active in this field. As a consequence, German research on Arabic

influence on the Middle Ages suffered a decline from which it still has not


So your professorship is also linked to past traditions of German science, one

of the most important features being interdisciplinarity. What do you hope to

achieve in the coming years?

Hasse: For me, receiving a Lichtenberg Professorship is a dream come true. I

can customise my professorship as I please and enjoy a great deal of inde-

Crossing Borders 2007 29


Comparing texts in teamwork: the Arabic

edition of two Latin versions of a work written

by Averroes in the Middle Ages are analyzed

by Dr. des. Stefan Georges, Professor

Hasse and Katrin Fischer (top photo from the

left). With his commentary on the Latin ex -

position of the Metaphysics of Aristotle, the

Arab philosopher exerted a great influence

on the philosophy of the occident. Christian

Stidronski, Dag Hasse and Stefan Georges

discuss the technique used by the translator,

who worked at the court of Staufer Friedrich II.

pendence. I am embedded in the Institute for Philosophy – which makes a

lot of sense, my teaching load naturally includes regular lectures in philosophy

– generally speaking the research field is free of departmental borders.

That is easier said than done in Germany, since in the humanities it is still

rather seldom that a professorship is created for an interdisciplinary subject.

For instance, the research assistants and student assistants I am working

with include an historian, a Romanist, an historian of medicine, a classical

philologist, a physicist and several philosophers. You see how this line-up

underscores how versatile the influence of Arabic culture was and still is!

My vision: to create, at the Institute, an international center of attraction for

academics and students from far and wide, by being able to consult people

on the Arabic legacy in Europe.

Does such an interdisciplinary approach actually facilitate the cooperation with

academics from different parts of the world?

Hasse: Yes, of course. Over the coming years I shall be organizing conferences

in collaboration with scholars from abroad. Many of the contacts I made while

I was in the US and England or attending international conferences are teachers

or researchers working in a number of different departments: they include

philosophers, historians of science, classical philologists, Judaists, Arabists

and Latinists. The wide scope and accessibility of my subject area also opens

up excellent opportunities for students.

Can you give us an example?

Hasse: Yes. This year, for instance, we are founding a European Graduate

School for Ancient and Mediaeval Studies together with colleagues from

Holland, Belgium, Italy and France. Interdisciplinarity will be the order of

the day, so to speak. And, of course, I hope to attract PhD students and postdocs

from other countries to the Institute. By the same token, my German

PhD students will have the opportunity to attend internationally renowned

institutes, such as those at Pisa or Leuven.

Will you be working towards any particular vision in your teaching activities?

Hasse: It makes no sense to want to change, let alone revolutionize, everything

you touch. After all, the tradition of teaching in Germany does exhibit

a great many strengths. A case in point is the encouragement given to students

to adopt a critical attitude to the subject matter and to carry out their

own independent analysis. There are some things, though, which I found

very stimulating in other countries and which I would like to incorporate in

my teaching: The Anglo-American tradition of “essay writing”, for example.

In some of my courses I give the students an essay assignment every second

week – rather than insist on a long written examination at the end of the

semester. Having to produce a short piece of writing within a limited period

of time is an excellent exercise! A further interesting element is that of “directed

reading”. I arrange individual meetings with students preparing their doctoral

theses; we read from selected texts and discuss the various aspects in detail.

Isn’t that rather wishful thinking at German universities today, with their

oversubscribed courses?

Hasse: No. My motto is: Rather take on fewer doctoral candidates, and then

provide them with more intensive tutoring. I attach great importance to

students producing their own good quality texts as early as possible. The

notion of “assign the topic, leave them alone, and check it later” remains a

very real deficit of doctoral education in Germany. In my opinion it insufficiently

prepares students for academic life.

What do your colleagues at the Institute think about that?

Hasse: We are quite frank with one another here: going it alone without the

support of your colleagues would not make any sense. Nevertheless I am

aware that my status as a Lichtenberg Professor lends more weight in talks

at the university than I had before. This undoubtedly enhances my powers

of persuasion when it comes to trying out something new.

Which certainly improves the standing of Germany as a science location?

Hasse: It is incredibly motivating for an academic of relatively young age to

possess such certitude of planning and stability for his future research: Especially

since a positive evaluation after four years would lead to tenure. One is

still full of energy and keen to change things, not yet worn down by negative

experience with the German procedures of academic appointments that brings

many good young academics to abandon Germany for careers abroad. For my

part, however, at the moment nothing could bring me to leave, for it would be

hard to imagine my finding better conditions anywhere else in the world.

What is it you dream of?

That I will be able to stay in Würzburg beyond this initial five-year period

and be given the chance to carry on with the work I have started: to be able

to remain hard on the track of the Greek-Arabic-Latin tradition, without

being constrained by any academic or disciplinary structures.

The researchers in Würzburg are also investigating

the image the occident had of Arab

scholars. Among other things, this involves

studying pictorial representations produced

in the period between 1300 and 1700.

Crossing Borders 2007 31


Lichtenberg Professor Christine Klein looks

optimistically towards a future full of promising

perspectives – the support she receives

allows her the creative scope she needs.

Full of Verve and Creative Potential

At Lübeck Christine Klein appreciates the freedom

enabled by her Lichtenberg Professorship.

Her first reaction is: “Freedom”, followed by: “At last I can begin to

make plans!” – which may sound like something of a contradiction.

But the person who said it is a professor employed in the German

university system, where the freedom to engage in long-term planning

of one’s own research sometimes is the most precious good of

all – and often enough thwart with constraints.

So if you ask Christine Klein what has changed most since April 2005 when

she took up a W2 Lichtenberg Professorship funded by the Volkswagen Foundation,

the first thing the neurogeneticist at the University Medical Center

in Lübeck (Department of Neurology) could think of was the newly gained

scope for freedom. The freedom to be able to conduct completely independent

research over the longer term: “Free of commitments which, for the

most part, I can’t determine”, she adds. Following a lively career with numerous

stations in Germany and abroad, in 2004 the mother of two children is

among the first five research scientists to be awarded one of the Foundation’s

coveted professorships. New perspectives were opened up for her overnight.

“By the usual two-year contracts less risky projects are encouraged; output

must be assured, you constantly have to yield a large crop in order to be

able to carry on”, says Klein. Initially, her professorship is being funded with

€1.3 million for a period of five years; subject to positive evaluation in a sort

of tenure track process, it might later be extended to a life-long appointment.

This perspective makes it possible for the medical scientist to pursue risky

research along ramified avenues: “As a Lichtenberg Professor I am able to

break new ground and to plan research projects over longer periods than

previously possible.”

For some ten years now the neurogeneticist has been conducting research on

movement disorders. Symptoms are Morbus Parkinson, the “restless legs syndrome”

or dystonia, whereby the normal tension of the muscles is disturbed,

resulting in involuntary movements and postures. She is focussing in particular

on the hereditary components of these diseases. Besides some suspected

environmental causes, it is known that in about five percent of Parkinson’s

disease patients it is genetically determined – however, up to now science

Funding initiative “Lichtenberg


– see page 56

Crossing Borders 2007 33


DNA taken from blood samples provides

insights into the genetic origin of movement

disorders. Analysis of the samples taken from

a large number of patients forms the backbone

of research carried out by Christine

Klein and her team in their Lübeck laboratory.

has identified only five genes as proven causes of the disease. There are

almost certainly more.

Together with her now 15-member work group the doctor is examining families

suffering from movement disorders. Some of these family “clans” encompass

up to 200 members. Whether infant or grandfather: Every two, three or

four years the affected persons present themselves to the research team. Film

records of the patients, for instance, are used to document the externally

visible course of the disease; blood and skin samples are taken for laboratory

tests. The questions occupying the research group: Which of the genes – in

connection with certain movement disorders – are affected by mutations?

What effect do such mutations have? And just as important: Why is it that

some people stay healthy all their lives despite the occurrence of a mutation?

Have they developed some kind of individual strategy which would permit

new therapy options? The objective is to identify and localize both already

known as well as new genes connected with an illness and to gain a deeper

understanding of their complex interaction – always with a view to developing

methods which will permit the targeted genetic testing of patients in

order to ultimately find new therapies for treating movement disorders. The

singularity of their work is its broad approach, the wide scope covered by the

research group: from examining the patients with the aid of modern clinical

electrophysiological and visualization methods – up to the molecular-genetic

and protein-chemical analysis of blood and skin samples taken from the

same persons.

Such an extensive project calls for a team of considerable size – and her team,

the 37-year-old stresses, is “absolutely brilliant”. Including 20-year-old students

and over-50-year-old medical-technical assistants, the individual members

of the group share a dedicated enthusiasm for their work. Modesty forbids

her to admit the part she plays in this. Her clear concentrated manner, her

passion for the subject matter, her appealing charisma: All this, of course, is

infectious. “I try to ensure that everyone has a free hand; I don’t want to be

the only one to take the credit”, says the young professor. “Student achievement

is rewarded with paid visits to congresses. If they are up to it, students

can submit their own papers.” Things which are by no means taken for granted

by graduates and PhD candidates at German universities. And Christine

Klein is quick to admit that this style of leadership results from her experience

in the USA: “In the States, it is not only expected that young researchers show

lots of own initiative – they are also permitted to do so.”

Christine Klein frequently visits North America in the course of her research:

the last time was a stay in Toronto in summer 2006. She participates in international

projects and continues her studies – seeking and maintaining contacts

to scientists which often result in joint publications in important journals,

or invitations from international societies to deliver lectures. In this

arena, too, the Lichtenberg Professorship offers benefit for her.

Christine Klein is working in the field she always dreamed of – not that she

dreamed her way into it. On the contrary, she had to work extremely hard.

During her studies at the universities of Hamburg, Heidelberg and Lübeck

she undertook clinical electives in Belarus, Sweden, Australia and France. She

spent her one-year practical training, passing through several departments,

in London and Oxford; following her medical thesis in 1995 she was offered a

post-doc position at the renowned Harvard Medical School in Boston. In 2001,

the year she gave birth to her son Jonas, she completed her Habilitation in

the field of neurogenetics at the University of Lübeck. Two years later – in

the meantime her daughter Felicitas had come along – the medical scientist

was awarded a Heisenberg fellowship by the German Research Foundation

(DFG). Finally, the panel of experts evaluated Klein’s application to the Volks -

wagen Foundation for a Lichtenberg Professorship as one of the best they

had received. And due to the fact that the neurogeneticist had already completed

her Habilitation and the quality of her research project was so convincing,

they recommended she should be awarded a higher-paid W2 professorship

in place of the W1 professorship applied for.

Many research scientists would be glad to boast such an impressive list of

stations, even when spread over double the number of years. Above all when

one takes into account that besides her research work she has set herself a

further grand goal: a family. How does she do it? Is there a partner behind

her to ward off unnecessary pressures, as usually is the case when scientists

Eleven of the 15-member team which Professor

Klein (center) has since gathered around

her. From the left: Ana Djarmati, PhD; Heather

Boston, BSc; Dipl. Ing. Anne Grüne wald; Sylwia

Dankert; Katja Zschiedrich; Philip Seibler, BSc;

Falk Schlaudraff, BSc; Thora Lohnau; Susen

Winkler, BSc; Dr. Katja Hedrich; Dr. Norbert


Crossing Borders 2007 35


Collaborative work and publications with colleagues

from all over the world – here a journal

published in Canada – help extend the

research horizon of the young Lichtenberg

Professor Christine Klein (second from right).

embark on such a career? None of it, says Klein. But her husband is of the

same metal. He, too, is both a doctor as well as a research scientist – in the

field of diabetology – and he fully understands: “It would be quite unbearable

if I were together with someone who came home at 5 o’clock in the evening

expecting me to be there waiting for him.”

There are things that seem quite easy for her: reading, writing; using the

tools a scientist needs. But the key to combining a career in research with

the joy of one’s own family is above all – good organization. She says this so

calmly, as if all you need to do is write a timetable and cling to it. But then

she adds something important: You have to be able to let yourself be helped

(in the family): and be able to delegate (in the work sphere). Significantly,

she does not speak of a four-person family, but of the “family enterprise”:

Included in this are the grandparents (among whom a grandmother who

frequently acts as cook), a nanny, a woman who cleans and does the ironing

and a husband who simply “spares just as much time for the children as I

do”. Naturally, that is not all. “It is also crucial to find the determination and

discipline to sit down to work again once the children have gone to bed.”

Another reason Christine Klein takes this upon herself is so she has time in

the mornings at 10 o’clock to go to mother-child gymnastics, or to take her

children to music school. In the morning she waits “until 8.30 before starting

work, so I can first have an hour with the children”. On three out of five days

she comes home to family lunch. “Pursuing a career doesn’t mean that parents

have to give up everything else!” A statement which, coming from Christine

Klein, is emphasized by an exclamation mark.

It was her Heisenberg fellowship in 2003 that first enabled her to achieve

this: “Suddenly, it was no longer so difficult to arrange things with the clinic.”

Maybe Christine Klein was just lucky in having a “sagacious and generous

boss”. And it is admittedly easier for a research scientist to organize her work

flexibly and to combine career and family than other professions. “This would

have been impossible working as a doctor on a hospital ward.”

She has set down roots in Lübeck. That is where her “family enterprise” is at

home and, for good measure, where she enjoys an optimal research environment.

As a consequence of the Lichtenberg Professorship the Lübeck University’s

concentration in neurogenetics has received decisive reinforcement.

And “because you can achieve such a lot due to the short ways here, Lübeck

offers enormous scope for creative potential”, Klein enthuses. An opportunity

the Lichtenberg Professor seizes day by day – and obviously with delight.

Dorothee Menhart

Sun and Warmth, Forests and Pastures

Science in the service of the Kyrgyz people

in Bishkek and Arslanbob

Why construct a solar thermal power plant in Kyrgyzstan of all places?

For Klaus Vajen, professor for Solar and Systems Engineering at the

University of Kassel, the answer to this is clear. Within the framework

of an EU project in 1996 he was involved in the installation of

a small solar thermal facility in Bishkek. Then there is the fact that

the Kyrgyz Technical University in Bishkek has a chair for Renewable

Energy, occupied by Professor Alaibek Obosov. And on top of this,

Kyrgyzstan has hardly any oil or gas reserves of its own.

Hence support for research in this field is virtually “a matter of survival”, as

Klaus Vajen puts it. So now things fit into place. It is only natural that a German

scientist in the field of renewable energy seeking to be engaged in the

region of Central Asia and the Caucasus should focus his attention on this

country at the heart of Asia.

Following preparatory tests with small-scale equipment at the Department

of Thermal and Systems Engineering in Kassel and with €350,000 of funding

as support, in the spring of 2004 the team set out to start work on-site – or

better said: they had hoped to start. The first setback was the realization that

for various reasons installation of the facility at the central heat and power

plant in Bishkek (TEZ) could not go ahead as planned. The location had to be

changed to the smaller “Rotor” heat plant, which officially provides warmth

to some 3,000 people – though in reality it may be much more. Further

delays then occurred due to some of the parts needed for the facility being

held up at customs, and others being misdirected to Tajikistan. Nevertheless,

in summer 2004 Elimar Frank and Christian Budig, one a PhD student, the

other at that time a pending graduate student in Vajen’s group, were at last

able to start. On their own they managed to install the facility on the roof –

quite a challenging task for two young physicists.

The facility is a pilot project as well as a fully functioning, albeit small, heating

plant. What makes it so special? The various components are utilized

simultaneously within a closed system. And this is how it works: first, a

black, perforated and corrugated metal sheet fixed over the building façade

In a joint effort with junior scientists they

have bundled their resources in a project to

produce renewable energy in Kyrgyzstan:

Professor Klaus Vajen from the University of

Kassel (second from right), Rajap Bayaliev

(Technical Director of the power station operating

company Teploenergo, fifth from right),

Professor Joomart Asyrankulovitch Apyshev

(Dean of the German-Kyrgyz Faculty at the

Technical University in Bishkek, sixth from

left) and Dr. Matthias Nöllenburg from the

Volkswagen Foundation (fifth from left).

Crossing Borders 2007 37


Hard work in Bishkek: PhD candidate Christian

Budig from Kassel installing the blower

(top) and the collectors (center) on top of the

roof of the heating plant. The bottom photo

also shows the black air-collectors fixed to

the building façade.

acts as an air collector which further heats up the already warm ambient air.

A blower then sucks the warm air through the air collector into an air-to-water

heat exchanger, by means of which ground water starting at a temperature

of just twelve degrees centigrade is warmed. In a third and last step, the water

flows through uncovered solar collectors, warming up further to a heat of

about 35 degrees Celsius. Finally, this “sun heated” water is heated up to a

required temperature of 60 degrees in the heating plant, which is fired by oil

or gas, and fed to the households it provides. Thus the engineering scientists

successfully combine a number of different components which have already

proven their functionality individually. For instance, the air collector technique

is already in conventional use as a means of heating factory floors; airto-water

heat exchangers are in general use as cooling elements in air-conditioning

systems – and the uncovered solar collectors are commonly found in

central European countries, where they are used especially for warming the

water in public swimming pools.

But it doesn’t stop there. Parallel to this, in 2005 the team installed another

facility on the roof of the district heating plant made entirely from Kyrgyz

components – a reproduction of the German facility, which is to be adjusted

bit by bit to the existing prototype. The Kyrgyz system even incorporates an

additional advantage: It functions with water, whereas the German facility

runs on a mixture of water and glycol – so that it won’t freeze in winter. The

latter is more laborious and expensive, as it requires a separate circuit. But as

it was previously uncertain who would maintain the facility, it seemed more

sensible to Vajen and his team to use a water-glycol variation – a facility

solely functioning on water would have to be entirely emptied before every

winter, and subsequently thoroughly cleaned before refilling. In a short while,

however, this will no longer pose a problem, as Klaus Vajen says, “Bishkek is

witnessing the coming-of-age of a highly committed young generation of

researchers, with whom we collaborate extremely well”. Two PhD students

are already firmly integrated in the project. They supervise the plant on site.

For the first time, a research project in the Volkswagen Foundation’s Central

Asia / Caucasus Initiative is supporting the PhD project of a junior scientist

from the region at a German University. Janybek Orozaliev is currently working

at Kassel University; he will later return to his home in Kyrgyzstan in

order to develop the research field of solar heating. For Vajen this represents

a decisive step toward longer-term international research collaboration. For

the time being though, the prototype-plant is still remotely maintained by

Frank and Budig from Kassel: They regularly receive e-mail messages containing

measurement data and evaluate these toward possible recommendations

for their Kyrgyz colleagues. To date this has always been successful, and

the sensitive measurement instruments have also proven their reliability in

the extreme conditions found on site – withstanding highly fluctuating temperatures

and dust.

Milk is a main nourishment as well as an

important marketable merchandise. In

summer, Kyrgyz families live with their

herds on the lush highland pastures.

Crossing Borders 2007 39


The Kyrgyz landscape features impressive

mountain ranges. Even in the highlands,

the herds are often on the move in search

of pasture.

Now that the plant itself is working, the team is concerned with the development

of a model for the optimum combination of the system components.

The construction of the plants is to be kept flexible to cope with local conditions.

This also gives rise to the question as to what quality restrictions, if any,

the use of Kyrgyz components imposes on heat generation. But for the time

being Vajen insists: “We are generating heat far more cheaply than would be

possible with oil or gas; and this is only possible with our current composition

of the components.” The use of solar power will certainly become a hot

topic in the future – especially in a country like Kyrgyzstan. Correspondingly,

the binational research team is thinking ahead. The researchers from Kassel

are already looking for potential local investors who might become interested

in the project. One potential source of finance could derive from the world -

wide trading in emissions credits. This trading is based on the concept that

every nation has a quota of atmospheric pollution that it must not exceed.

States like Kyrgyzstan, that do not reach their quota, may sell their remaining

“shares” to the industrialized economies. Anyway, the overall aim of the

research group in Kassel and Bishkek is clear: to raise sufficient funds for

the construction of the world’s largest solar power plant. This would represent

an important milestone on the way to an energy supply independent

of fossil fuels.

In the southern part of Kyrgyzstan, around Arslanbob in the Jalal-Abad region,

another research team is assessing the consequences of the country’s political

independence on the globally unique stand of walnut–fruit forests. This is

the first time that landscape ecologists, human geographers, and botanists

have joined forces to investigate the complex interrelations between political

change, societal transformation and the changes the forests are undergoing.

For not only have the country’s political and economic structures and the

lives of its inhabitants undergone significant change: since 1991 several foreign

actors have come into play – amongst others, Turkish walnut merchants

and western European companies interested in the precious walnut-root

wood. The Foundation provided support for two subsequent projects to the

tune of €660,000.

Within the framework of this project Dr. Matthias Schmidt, a human geographer

who teaches at the Institute for Geographic Sciences of the Freie Universität

Berlin, has carried out intensive studies of how people’s living conditions

have been impacted by the changing times. He spent a total of nine months

in the region, where he conducted approximately eighty extensive interviews,

most of them together with his Kyrgyz colleague, the socio-economist geographer

Dr. Tolkunbek Asykulov from the Kyrgyz National University in Bishkek.

With assistance from a local advisor, the team visited people in their homes,

but also more preferably whilst they were shepherding their cattle on the

summer pastures. “The situation then seemed more relaxed”, Asykulov emphasizes:

The people take their time up there – and we too became more laid

back. We ended up adapting to our discussion partners’ way of life, even

sleeping in yurts just like them.” These discussions in the mountains are

always a give and take: “Since the shepherds sometimes spend weeks on end

in relative solitude, they are always curious about news from the villages in

the valley – and are then even happier to talk about their experiences since

the political upheaval.” In one thing they all agree: the formerly all-powerful

state has retreated too suddenly. Many have since lost their jobs as result.

But bureaucratic tyranny is still a part of everyday life in Kyrgyzstan. Schmidt

witnessed first hand how distraught his discussion partner was when the

forest administration decided to fell “their” best tree. “They were practically

robbed of their livelihood over night”, the researcher reports: “The family’s

livelihood was dependent on the walnut harvest, and then suddenly they

were left with nothing.” Although the family did possess the rights to culti -

vation of the tree – and that for a long time – those rights were handed out

rather informally, and there is no possibility to protect oneself against such

arbitrary acts. It is then hardly surprising that the Kyrgyz Asykulov, who

obtained his PhD from Greifswald University, came up against considerable

The wild fruit and walnut forests of southern Kyrgyzstan are renowned for their

biodiver sity – but this is now endangered due to more intensive use of the land.

Funding initiative “Between Europe

and the Orient – A Focus on Research

and Higher Education in/on Central

Asia and the Caucasus”

– see page 63

Crossing Borders 2007 41


German and Kyrgyz project participants

gather under a walnut tree for a group


reluctance on the part of persons he wanted to interview with his German

colleague: “This kind of reluctance is not only a heritage from the Soviet era,

even today many people are afraid of speaking out openly.” The researchers

realized that these prejudices can only be overcome with a great deal of

patience and empathy.

Fortunately for the locals, the felling of walnut trees has become less common

– since those responsible in the forestry department are also recognizing the

value of the trees. For all the frustration about such actions, one should not

underestimate the Kyrgyz creativity, Schmidt’s partner Professor Udo Schickhoff,

a biogeographer and landscape ecologist from Hamburg University,

adds: “The people have learnt to cope with difficult situations – this is of

great value to them now.” But in part it is this attitude that is also detrimental

to the forest, which is used far more intensively today than it was before

1990: “In order to survive, families have to keep more cattle than they used to;

and at the same time the purchase of cattle feed has become economically

untenable, so that more and more cows and sheep graze the forests”, Schmidt

points out. Other areas are in turn being used for the hay harvest. And as fuel

has also become too expensive for many families, they heat their homes with

undergrowth and deadwood gathered in the forest. What at first may seem

rather harmless is already beginning to have a visible effect on the forest: the

forest stand is over-aging, since the reproduction of trees by planting seedlings

will not be successful under these conditions. The soil becomes compacted,

as it is too exposed to trampling by the animals. In the short frost-free period,

fragile saplings are not able to grow their roots deeply enough to survive the

next winter.

The after-effects are even visible from space: Professor Sebastian Schmidtlein,

biogeographer from Bonn University, analyzes the density of the natural cover

and size of individual canopies through satellite imaging. A comparison of

images taken in the 1980s and today demonstrates a clear shift in the forest’s

structure – such as the lack of rejuvenation, for instance. Schmidtlein’s main

objective is to create a habitat model for the walnut forest which will predict

the theoretical expansion of a species based on certain soil conditions. Any

deviation from this model would suggest direct – negative – human impact.

Simultaneously, since 2003 landscape ecologists surrounding Udo Schickhoff

from the Department of Geography at Hamburg University – at that time

operating from Greifswald University – have been surveying the entirety of

the walnut forest. They were supported in their undertaking by the Russian

botanist Dr. Georgy Lazkov from the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences in Bishkek.

The researchers catalogued the entire flora and fauna, and repeatedly took

soil samples. “This gathering of basic data”, explains Schickhoff, “is vital in

order to document links between legitimate use of the forest and damage

and hence to determine what degree of use will cause lasting damage to

the forest ecosystem”. Since not all human use has detrimental effects, the

project partners argue that a medium intensity use may even be positive for


Professor Hermann Kreutzmann from the Institute for Geographic Sciences

at the Freie Universität Berlin, who has been collaborating with Schickhoff

since the beginning of the project, emphasizes that the development of a

sustainable-use model is the main aim of the project. The development of

such a practical model has only become possible through collaboration

across several disciplines, as well as observations and analyses of national

and individual actions and their effects. During the course of the first project

it became apparent that the walnut forests and their use are closely linked

to the upland pastures, those meadows above the tree-line. That is why they

are now included in the present project that was launched in 2006.

It is fundamentally true that the forest reacts sensitively to human impact,

but at the same time that human livelihoods are dependent on them. A

radical exploitation ban would therefore be detrimental to the population.

Already many families have had to emigrate, as arrangements between the

local authorities and those farmers who have longstanding cultivation rights

to the walnut trees prevents them from finding a foothold in Kyrgyzstan.

The over-population in the area does the rest. But there are also optimistic

perspectives: a lot of hope is put in “community-based tourism”, a softer,

more environmentally friendly form of tourism, which is compatible with

sustainable use. These developments lend support to the enthusiasm of

Schickhoff and his research colleagues. Despite bureaucratic hurdles and

widespread corruption – in their view the positive out-weighs the negative

in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Elke Kimmel

Walnuts are a valuable crop and one of the

most important sources of income for the

population of South Kyrgyzstan.

Crossing Borders 2007 43


Sharks on the Up

Scientists apply the friction reducing structure of

shark’s skin to sheet metal and coatings.

Fast swimming sharks have ribbed scales. Their skin is covered in

shimmering platelets, which are veined with grooves just like freshly

ploughed fields. The grooves are particularly sharp-edged, thus keeping

water turbulence at a distance from the shark’s skin. Hence they

reduce frictional resistance and permit the predatory fish to attain

speeds of up to 20 meters per second, and that through water.

Funding initiative “Innovative

Methods for Manufacturing of

Multifunctional Surfaces”

– see page 65

For several decades now, engineers have been investigating this brilliant scale

design in order to reduce the drag of airplanes, wind turbines or in gas

pipelines by means of artificial, e.g. capillary ribs – so-called riblets. This does

not merely save energy, but may also reduce disturbing wind noise. Although

riblets have proven their efficiency in the form of foils, they have still not

found wide appli cation. The reasons: they have to be applied in an additional

manufacturing step, they can only be fixed with difficulty onto highly complex

surfaces – and most important of all: they add weight to components.

New manufacturing strategies are now promising a breakthrough. Young

researchers from the RWTH Aachen University have come up with a process

which stamps the drag-reducing grooves directly into the metals. For this

purpose, they have developed two quite different rolling technologies. With

rotating rolls which carry the three-dimensional negative image of the structure

on their surfaces, they stamp grooves into aluminum sheets onto a wide

surface and with high speed. Mario Thome, a member of Professor Gerhard

Hirt’s research group at the Institute of Metal Forming (IBF), describes the

application potential: “This technique is useful for large, plane surfaces made

of soft metals, such as those used for the planking of express trains and airplanes

or for the lining of pipelines”. At present, the grooves are still too wide

and the ribs in between them not sharp enough to reduce drag sufficiently

enough to satisfy the needs of all applications suggested. “For instance, computer

simulations have shown that the grooves can’t be more than a fifth of

a millimeter in width if they are to have any beneficiary effect on an express

train”, says Thome.

Structuring the rollers in sufficiently small dimensions poses a true challenge.

Engineers are hence working on the development of appropriate technologies.

The shark owes its prowess as a hunter and agile

swimmer to the structure of its skin – for quite

some time, engineering scientists have become

aware of this feature, which now acts as a model

for flow-efficient surfaces. Our photo shows a

grey reef shark, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos.

Crossing Borders 2007 45


Research on tiny grooves with great effect:

in the Machine Tool Laboratory of RWTH

Aachen, scientists from three different institutes

examine a rolled sample of a titan alloy.

From the left: Professor Fritz Klocke (WZL)

and Dipl.-Ing. Björn Feldhaus (WZL), Stefan

Klumpp (AIA) and Mario Thome (IBF).

Small rollers create a fine riblet structure on

metal parts: here an aluminum sample produced

during a series of experiments at the

WZL in Aachen.

At the same time they are experimenting with the various rolling forces.

There is an optimum balance between rolling force and riblet indentation”,

Thome expands. The reason: metal is more easily manipulated under high

pressure. On the one hand it fits better into the roller’s grooves, so that sharper,

more flow-efficient ribs are created. On the other hand, though, increased

pressure causes the material to yield, making the sheets longer and thinner.

The research group surrounding Professor Hirt wants to counteract this effect

by using larger roller cylinders. “The surface contact between the roller and

the stamped material is hence increased, and the sheets can no longer yield

lengthwise”, collaborator Thome explains.

Only a few kilometers away in the halls of the Laboratory for Machine Tools

and Production Engineering (WZL) of the RWTH University Aachen, Björn Feldhaus,

from Professor Fritz Klocke’s research group, demonstrates a method

with which streamlined structures can also be stamped into high strength

metals: two small rollers, the size of five-cent coins, roll over the surface of a

titanium alloy – in an up-right position and at a fixed distance from each other.

At a steady pace, this produces one pair of grooves after the next on the metal

surface. The microstructure is hence not torn apart abruptly, like it is during

cutting and milling, rather it is hardened. “This enhances the material’s quality.

Besides, the rolling creates so-called residual compressive stresses, which

bind the metal structure particularly well and hinders the occurrence of cracks”,

Feldhaus elaborates on the advantages of the method.

The rolling technique developed at the Aachen laboratory is a real novelty

which can be incorporated in all conventional milling machines. Nevertheless,

the engineers still have to fine tune the tool’s holder, so that it will be able

to adapt to the various angle requirements for different components. “This

method will enable us to apply riblets to more complex shapes of metal

such as the compressor blades in airplane engines or gas turbines for energy

generation”, says Feldhaus. But the WZL researchers still have to carry out

further refinements on the filigree roller cylinders to achieve the necessary

groove dimensions.

Detailed simulations are used to keep the number of costly roller experiments

to a minimum. This is the task of Daniel Hartmann from the Institute of Aerodynamics

(AIA) at RWTH University Aachen. “We calculate whether the producible

groove shapes are efficient enough for specified uses”, explains the

junior researcher from Professor Wolfgang Schröder’s research group. How -

ever, because of the numerous turbulences and their continuously changing

nature, the flow behavior is not easily captured. To arrive at a prediction, Hartmann

has to simulate the flow at various different points in time and from this

data extract the averages. The mathematical equations he uses are extremely

complex and, for a sole possible riblet structure, contain over ten million un -

knowns. With this flood of data Hartmann can easily occupy 48 processors of

a high performance computer for several months.

Once the researchers of the collaborative “Ribletskin Project” – funded by the

Foundation to the tune of over €700,000 – have found the adequate parameters

for effective and producible structures, ribbed metals are to be tested in

practice for their aerodynamic qualities and long term stability. And not least,

the researchers want to examine how the surface structure changes when,

for instance, corrosion protection is applied. Should a protective coating be

too thick, the potent rib structure would be covered over, hence losing all its


Dr. Volkmar Stenzel from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology

and Applied Materials Research (IFAM) in Bremen does not have this

problem. As a chemist, he does not apply the ribbed streamlining to metals,

but to coatings of lacquers – and he does this whilst they are being applied.

“This saves additional labor and is particularly useful for airplanes and wind

turbines, as these have to be coated anyway”, Stenzel describes the decisive

advantage of the technique. Within the framework of a pilot study funded by

the Volkswagen Foundation – which culminated mid 2006 in a cooperative

project with a partner in Berlin – Stenzel’s team has already been able to

develop a prototype for applying the coating: a steel box the size of a micro -

wave oven, under which a translucent, approximately 15-centimeter-thick

band of silicone glides over a triangle of rolls.

“Our silicone matrix carries the negative structure of the ribs”, Stenzel explains

the process. It prints a thick resin lacquer complete with rib structure onto all

sorts of shaped metal parts. “We use so-called dual-cure coatings”, Stenzel

explains. These lacquers harden in two ways: slowly by heating, and quickly

by the application of high-energy UV rays. Due to the slower thermal drying

This group one day hopes to be able to in -

corporate energy saving structures actually

while applying coatings to the surfaces of

aircrafts, trains and the blades of wind turbines:

Dipl.-Ing. Martin Kaune, Volker Föste,

Silke Strudthoff and Dr. Volkmar Stenzel

from IFAM in Bremen (from the left).

This prototype of a device that produces

microstructured surface coatings in imitation

of sharkskin was developed and

constructed by the Bremen research

team led by Dr. Volkmar Stenzel.

Crossing Borders 2007 47


At DLR in Berlin the ribbed coating undergoes

simulated trials. Dr.-Ing. Wolfram Hage from

the Institute of Propulsion Technology calibrates

the measuring equipment of the oil

canal by attaching weights.

Slow realizations about fast sharks

Wolf-Ernst Reif, a paleontologist from Tübingen

(born in 1945), is regarded as the father of artificial

sharkskin. About 30 years ago he examined several

samples of shark scales – amongst them million-year-old

fossilizations as well as sharkskin

pieces from the present, bought from deep sea

fishermen in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, but

also from Tübingen’s refectory staff when shark

steak happened to be on the menu. Reif soon

found out that only fast swimming sharks had

the researchers obtain protective layers with good adhesive qualities, building

sturdy molecular networks – whilst nevertheless maintaining the desired

structures, as they harden within milliseconds when irradiated. In contrast, a

coating which hardens solely by means of thermal drying, such as those on

sale at DIY stores, would smooth itself out over time. At present the resear chers

assiduously strive to develop particularly abrasion-resistant and dirt repelling

coating compositions. The chemistry of the silicone matrix also remains somewhat

troublesome. “The better the matrix reproduces the required structure,

the easier it tears”, Stenzel describes the dilemma. Therefore the researchers

want to construct the band in two layers: a stable base layer, and a softer top

layer for the imprint.

In order to get the coating machine ready for practice, engineering skills are

just as important as knowledge of chemistry: “The aim is to produce a fully

automated system”, Stenzel emphasizes. For this purpose, a so-called broadslit

nozzle is being developed, from which the semifluid coating substance

can flow continuously and uniformly thick onto the silicone matrix. Furthermore,

the researchers still have to enlarge the entire apparatus to suitable

operational dimensions. “In the end the silicone band has to have a working

width of half a meter”, Stenzel indicates the aim in view.

About 400 kilometers away from IFAM, Dr. Wolfram Hage from the German

Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin finally checks the aerodynamic properties of

Bremen’s rib coatings. “We are constructing a purpose-built hydrofoil model,

and in the wind tunnel examine how the resistance properties of the foils

change when coated”, explains Hage, who has been intensively studying the

qualities of riblet structures for the past 15 years. In the meantime he has

become one of the partners in the collaborative project that is funded with a

ribbed scales. He therefore deduced that this type

of ribbed structure must be particularly conducive

to enhancing aerodynamic properties. But most of

the engineers with whom he shared his hypothesis

barely had time for a polite smile, since at that

time smooth surfaces were generally believed to

be the most aerodynamically efficient. Not until

years later did Reif’s revolutionary theory become

vindicated through experiments in wind and

water tunnels.

total of €700,000. The new ribbed lacquer must not only prove itself in the

DLR laboratories, but also in practice over longer periods of time, and the

engineers plan to apply ribbed coatings to passenger planes and the rotor

blades of wind turbines for subsequent tests. The researchers are especially

interested to find out how long the ribs stay in shape. “The faster the profiles

wear off with time, the more limited is their friction reducing effect”, Hage

points out. It is therefore necessary to minutely examine the surfaces of the

coated parts at given time intervals. As the reproduction of the tiny structures

in sufficient precision requires a great deal of effort, enlarged rib models are

to be made of plastic material. Instead of these being measured in an air

stream, the researchers apply an oil flow. This is because the larger models

behave in an oil tunnel just like the tiny original structures behave in the

wind tunnel. “The proportions are directly transferable”, emphasizes the

researcher from Berlin.

Plastic rib models are furthermore helpful in identifying the optimum geometry

for various uses and components. How high, wide, and what distance

from each other the ribs have to be, is amongst other factors dependent on the

speed of flow, Hage explains: “In faster currents, the intervals of the grooves

have to be smaller.” Once the ideal microstructure is found, Hage believes that

fuel savings of two to three percent in airplanes are realistic. “For an Airbus

380 this means no less than up to four tons of kerosene per tankful”, he elaborates

on the significance of the savings. Therefore Hage predicts a steep

career trajectory for the ribbed coatings. And with the slogan “Dances with

Sharks” he already has a suitable proposal for the aviation industry’s marketing


Andrea Hoferichter

With his comprehensive documentation and

analysis of sharkskin, Dr. Wolf-Ernst Reif, a

paleontologist from Tübingen, is generally

regarded as having laid the cornerstone for

today’s research. The two photos show the

skin of a white shark on its body (B) and its

tail (C). The top photo is of the white shark

itself (Carcharodon carcharis). It can reach

speeds of up to 60 km per hour, and is thus

among the fastest of the shark species.

Crossing Borders 2007 49


Learning from Sudan

Knowledge for tomorrow: the Volkswagen Foundation

supports cooperative projects in Africa

The process of globalization is continuously giving rise to new partnerships.

Recently, though, the discussion surrounding the negative

consequences of globalization has been attracting more and more

attention – and the subsequently identified problems are now seen

as the key challenges of globalization. The effects are felt especially

by the developing countries and in virtually all areas.

In the crisis zone of Darfur in western Sudan

hundreds of thousands are facing threat of

starvation: Many children cheered for UN

secretary general Kofi Annan on his visit in

2005, pleading on their self-made banners

for international protection.

In academia, for example, the calamitous exodus of highly qualified young

researchers from the turbulent regions of those continents is particularly

regrettable. Reason enough for the Volkswagen Foundation to fulfil its commitment

within its own particular field of expertise – science and research.

In the year 2003 it set up the funding initiative “Knowledge for Tomorrow

– Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa”. The aim is to contribute

to the support of local research and the career-development of junior

academics, and hence to strengthen the innovative power of Africa.

An exemplary case for this is a joint Afro-German project, in which researchers

from Bremen are collaborating with research colleagues from Sudan, Kenya

and Ethiopia. Together they are examining the Sudanese dynamics that

strengthen or bypass the peace process; a research project that does more than

merely reinforce the awareness for interactions between state and society, but

also enhances the scientific potential of the country. In early 2005 the opposing

parties in Sudan, Africa’s largest country, ended the 20-year long civil war

which cost the lives of two million people. “The previously hegemonic Islamic

north and the southern Sudanese liberation movement reached an agreement

to share both national wealth and power. This was institutionalized through

an interim government for South Sudan and temporary governments for the

federal states”, reports Dr. Elke Grawert from the Institute of Political Science

at Bremen University. “Even though the peace is still unstable, the building

up of legitimized political structures develops its own momentum that exerts

a constructive influence on societal conflicts.” Across the continent this

agreement is now regarded as a ray of hope for a more stable and pacified


Crossing Borders 2007 51


Project coordinator Dr. Elke Grawert from

Bremen University and Professor Kassahun

from the University of Addis Ababa during

selection of project assistants in Khartoum.

Below: Applicants for the research grant

awaiting their turn to present their proposals

in front of the “Development Studies and

Research Institute”.

Grawert belongs to the trio responsible for the project “Governance and Social

Action in Sudan after the Peace Agreement of January 2005: Local, National,

and Regional Dimensions”, which is funded with €500,000. Its theme is the

political process in Sudan since the peace treaty from the point of view of its

societal actors. The core team comprises also Professor Atta H. El-Battahani

from the Institute of Political Sciences at Khartoum University, and Professor

Karl Wohlmuth from the Institute for World Economics and International Ma -

nagement at Bremen University. The field studies in three regions of southern

Sudan – one focusing on a refugee camp, two others on the Sudanese diaspora

in the border regions of Ethiopia and Kenya respectively – are mainly the

responsibility of PhD and Master’s students. “Preference is given to women”,

emphasizes Grawert. They are being supervised by researchers on the spot.

“By interviewing the actors, such as representatives of non-governmental

organizations or tribal chiefs of the 400 ethnic groups and cultures in Sudan,

they are attempting to identify structure-building societal interactions”,

explains Karl Wohlmuth from Bremen University.

“Patience is a precondition”, as Ellen Grawert who previously worked on similar

subjects in Tanzania knows. “By attempting to implement a strict schedule,

you will not succeed in gaining the trust necessary to communicate with

people.” The pace of approach is dictated by the partners – which is a typical

aspect of the entire Africa Initiative. Another is the further qualification of

junior researchers. “Deficits are particularly evident in the area of methodo logy”,

Grawert found. “This is because the educational system has been drained by

war and emigration.” The young researchers are prepared for their work at

workshops organized in different Sudanese universities.

The first research phase of this three-year project is dedicated to qualitative

stock-taking; supplemented as far as possible by quantitative data with regard

to political, social, and economical aspects. This will determine the case studies

that characterize conflict-prone constellations and which are to be examined

in the second fieldwork phase. “One obvious candidate for a case study is the

Jonglei canal project, which was devised in the 1970s with the intention of

diverting waters of the Nile for agricultural irrigation in northern Sudan and

Egypt”, Grawert recounts. Using the question of whether a stronger autonomy

of southern Sudan will see the implementation of this or of a fairer canal

project will allow an investigation into how the new – and possibly also the

old – institutions interact and into the influences of actors with contradicting

interests. During the third, the feedback phase, the results will be discussed

with the interlocutors.

The spirit and intentions of the Africa Initiative are perfectly combined in

this project, as it initiates central African networks and collaborations between

African and German academics which strengthen research systems locally

and further qualifies junior African researchers”, the program managers at

the Volkswagen Foundation, believe. This multifaceted initiative aims to nur-

ture a science culture that attracts the continent’s new generation of resear -

chers. And through this the Foundation hopes to contribute to a cessation of

the northward brain drain.

“Sudan’s hunger for qualified people is so great that our researchers may well

be poached even during the course of the project itself”, says Grawert – with

a smile. As an experienced fieldworker she is aware of the pressing needs of

the region and therefore stays calm: “Such an eventuality would certainly be

awkward, but absolutely in keeping with the project objective”. Peace in Sudan,

should it last, needs a skilled elite that will be able to create a legitimate power

base reflecting the cultural diversity of the country.

Perhaps, maybe as a side effect, the research design itself will help to tighten

the peace spiral. Since it intertwines interlocutors into the research process,

subject and object overlap and become part of a spiral of understanding, continually

enhancing and simultaneously diffusing awareness and sensitivity

for the interaction of societal and political power. Grawert is careful to awaken

too high expectations: “What we can create in the feedback phase is contact

between African actors which will hopefully lead to synergies.” However,

genuine action research, focusing on changes, is not planned.

The Sudan project advances with caution. As cautious as indeed the entire

Africa Initiative has been designed. The Foundation takes great care when

identifying the individual thematic focuses. Potential research topics go

through several reflection loops and are tested for their relevance in Afro-

German workshops. In cooperation with researchers from both continents

the Foundation then develops calls for proposals, which again require a twostage

application process: Project outlines are first examined by an interdisciplinary

and international panel; successful candidates may then submit proposals

for projects lasting for two or three years – the duration is extendable

if successful. Beside the project funding and the award of fellowships, the

Foundation promotes interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and networks

within Africa through the funding of workshops, symposia, and summer


These procedures bundle and strengthen the funding capacity of the Africa

Initiative, which the Foundation knows to be a sensitive instrument. And it

takes into account a fact which is of particular interest to science in the wounded

and vulnerable regions of the continent: that research in Africa must be

based on the respect and recognition of varied research interests – and hence

can only be successful if aims are conceived in a joint approach that generates

reciprocated understanding and trust.

Ruth Kuntz-Brunner

Funding initiative “Knowledge for

Tomorrow – Cooperative Research

Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa”

– see page 61

Signing of the peace treaty with the “rebels”

(top picture: left, the Sudanese Vice-president

Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, right John

Garang). Can the treaty really guarantee

peace between northern and southern

Sudan? After decades of civil war the people

of the country’s south were ecstatic about

the peace agreement anyway.

Crossing Borders 2007 53

The Foundation’s Funding Initiatives

The following pages contain brief descriptions

of the funding initiatives currently open for

application (as of June 2007). Updated infor -

mation can be obtained by visiting the website There, the Infor -

mation for Applicants on each initiative provides

details on topics and objectives as well

as application criteria and deadlines.

The funding initiatives are ordered by categories

which reflect the Foundation’s funding

profile: Support of Persons and New Structures,

International Focus, Thematic Impetus, Social

and Cultural Challenges, Off the Beaten Track.


Support of Persons and New Structures

Funding Facts

Established in 2002

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€26.7 million


Dr. Anja Fließ

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-374

An open air laboratory in the Baltic Sea –

instead of the Cologne Zoo – will be the main

place of work for Dr. Guido Dehnhardt and his

“research group” of seals and sea lions. After

taking up his appointment as a Lichtenberg

Professor at Rostock University, the biologist

will continue his research on the orientation

capability of these marine mammals.

Lichtenberg Professorships

Within the Foundation’s program category of support for persons and new

structures, the funding initiative “Lichtenberg Professorships” – named after

the mathematician, physicist and philosopher Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

(1742 – 1799) – aims to provide an impetus for German universities to open

up alternative ways of qualification and appointment. Its objective is to

provide support to outstanding scientists and scholars in connection with

innovative fields of teaching and research, and in so doing also to boost the

profile of the very best among the German universities. Thus, the funding

initiative “Lichtenberg Professorships” simultaneously places a focus on

promising thematic areas, as well as key aspects of structural and research

policy. Applications are also open to non-German nationals; there are no

thematic restrictions.

The main target group will comprise junior scholars who obtained their

PhD within the last four years (salary according to pay scale W1). Candidates

should have a proven research record and preferably some experience in

working abroad.

• Additionally, the initiative aims at outstanding young scholars who obtained

their PhD at the most seven years previously (W2). Candidates for these

professorships should preferably be returning or coming to Germany from


• In particular cases successful “five-star” researchers from non-classical disciplines

may be considered; they should enjoy an international reputation

(W3). Applications will be accepted solely from applicants holding a full

professorship or a comparable position abroad.

Applications for the W2 and W3 professorships will not be considered in the

event that research interests lie in the established areas of their respective

discipline. The application for a Lichtenberg Professorship – which opens up

a tenure-track perspective – may be submitted only by the candidate. It is to

be accompanied by a statement on the part of the university leadership as

well as the respective faculty (Fakultät) and/or department (Fachbereich) in

which the university elucidates the scientific and organizational frame conditions.

The Foundation expects that the university will make a significant

contribution from the outset, which should consist of a basic share from its

own budget and the use of resources. A further prerequisite is that the university

enters into a firm commitment to progressively assume the professorship

and its infrastructure if successful. The institution must also guarantee

that a regular W2- or W3-professorship will be included in the university’s

budget for the period following expiry of the funding.

Schumpeter Fellowships for Future Leaders in Management

Studies, Economics, Law, and the Social Sciences

Experience gained from prior funding has revealed a considerable demand

on the part of young researchers aspiring to positions as professors and

leaders in the fields of management studies, economics, social sciences and

law. Therefore, the Foundation decided in 2006 to offer long-term support for

young researchers who have completed outstanding PhDs and who display

the potential for leadership positions, both within and without the sphere

of academia. The fellowship is named after Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883

– 1950), an Austrian-born jurist and economist who also exerted his influence

on sociology and political science.

The funding aims at supporting junior researchers who – either singly or

in small research groups – want to break new ground in their subject and

whose research projects, due to their complexity or high risk, from the outset

clearly reveal the need for longer working horizons. This may include projects

which seek to sound out and to break through the boundaries of their own

discipline from “within”. It may also include projects which depart from the

mainstream by means of collaboration beyond customary combinations of

disciplines, hence seeking to contribute in subject or methodology to a new

orientation of the respective research field.

The target group encompasses junior researchers with outstanding PhD

results (at least “magna cum laude”) and who can also be expected to be able

to make a substantial contribution to the international discourse, too. The

PhD should not be older than five years. Applications may be submitted

either in German or in English and must be accompanied by a firm commitment

on the part of a university or other research institution to act as host

institution. The Foundation will fund the direct costs of the project, but it

expects the host institution to make a significant contribution, for instance

by provision of infrastructure such as rooms, computers and assistance.

Funding Facts

Established in 2006


Prof. Dr. Hagen Hof

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-256

Crossing Borders 2007 57


Funding Facts

Established in 2004

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€3.7 million


Dr. Marcus Beiner

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-289

Farm tractors count among the most important

innovations in agriculture during

the 20th century. At the research institute

attached to Deutsches Museum in Munich,

Dilthey Fellow Dr. Frank Uekötter is investigating

how farmers accumulated know-how

and, in turn, how their practical experience

impacted upon technology and science.

Focus on the Humanities

“Focus on the Humanities” entails a dual commitment for the Foundation:

on the one hand, a duty to provide support to a group of disciplines which,

despite their record of outstanding achievement, have to face up to cost saving

measures, and on the other hand a commitment to cooperation with other

partners involved in promoting science and research. Together with the “Fritz

Thyssen Stiftung” and in cooperation with the “Stifterverband für die Deutsche

Wissenschaft” and the “ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius”, the Volks -

wagen Foundation offers two main categories of grants which have been

customized to fit the specific needs of the humanities. In addition funds are

made available for the organization of disputations, workshops and conferences,

thus providing the opportunity to present research results and encouraging

public debate on topics in the humanities which are of wider interest.

Research in the humanities should be supported especially where it hovers at

the interfaces and overlaps of disciplines, and where it refers to sophisticated,

new fields of especially high-risk research that differ from mainstream thinking.

The aim of the funding initiative is both to encourage highly qualified

junior researchers to pursue careers in the humanities, as well as to make the

humanities more attractive for those who have already attained renown. The

funding initiative “Focus on the Humanities” comprises three components:

• Dilthey Fellowships

Outstanding young post-doctorate scholars will be able to work on themes

that open up new avenues of research in the humanities, but that – due to

their complexity or high element of risk – are known to necessitate longish

planning and time horizons. A prerequisite for eligibility is that research

work is embedded in a German university, or other recognized research

facility. – The fellowship is named after the German philosopher Wilhelm

Dilthey (1833-1911).

• “opus magnum”

Exceptional scholars who have made an outstanding contribution to research

can obtain leave of between six months and two years from their normal

duties in order to dedicate themselves to work on an expansive scholarly

treatise. The costs of deputy teaching will be borne by the participating


• Workshops and Symposia

This program of thematically oriented events aims at conveying the standing

and significance of the humanities to a wider audience. Events that may be

considered eligible for funding include full-scale conferences, as well as

smaller workshops, lectures and disputations.

University of the Future

Today, German universities see themselves confronted with a number of

challenges: there is the growing demand within our society for scientifically

grounded knowledge – both in the area of technical innovation, as well as

that of consultation within the context of political and cultural debate. And

the agenda in higher education is dominated by the need to accelerate the

acquisition of knowledge and to meet the requirements of the labor market.

Furthermore, the universities are coming under increasing pressure to legitimate

financial expenditure on research and teaching. At the same time, the

structure of university studies has to undergo a fundamental organizational

change: there is the transition to Bachelor and Master degrees, for instance,

and new forms of operation with university councils and a professional university

management. All this is taking place under conditions of heightened

international competition.

The Foundation’s funding initiative “University of the Future” aims at helping

German universities to face up to these challenges. The objective of this initiative

is to provide support for exemplary projects designed to make a special

contribution to structural innovation and the internationalization of our universities.

The Foundation will only consider funding projects which can be

shown to be truly exceptional in comparison with other creative reform


Projects should reach beyond the conventional aspects of teaching and research

processes and contain structural implications, thus involving the potential

for a sustained improvement in university performance. Proposals should

illustrate the experimental and pilot aspects of the project. For its part, the

Foundation will be initiating studies and workshops, stimulating both an

exchange between respective experts and practitioners, as well as the competition

between the universities by means of benchmarking.

Applicants within the context of “University of the Future” should first submit

only outline proposals – and this only when it can be shown that no other

possibilities for funding exist. Outlines should refer to one of the two thematic

areas “The Structural Change of Universities” andThe Internationalization

of Knowledge”; they may be submitted by German universities and without

formal requirements. In the event that an outline is selected for consideration,

the procedure will enter a second stage and the applicant will be invited

to submit a full proposal for peer review.

Funding Facts

Established in 2004

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€5.4 million


Dr. Anja Fließ

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-374

The Graduate School of Social Sciences at

the University of Bremen will in future have

a greater focus on economics, law and the

health sciences. Our photo shows the Fellows

Christoph Engemann and Lorraine Frisina.

Crossing Borders 2007 59


Funding Facts

Established in 1966

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€24.7 million


According to subject area

Assistance is provided by the

Foundation’s switchboard

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-0

International interaction at the laptop. From

the left: Professor Anthony Movshon, Amin

Zandvakili (Iran), Franco Pestili (USA) and

Dr. Miriam Spering took an active part in a

summer school on the topic of visual neurosciences.

Professor Christian Begemann of Bayreuth

University led an interdisciplinary symposium

dedicated to the topic of Dracula and


Symposia and Summer Schools

The pioneering of new scientific avenues of investigation and innovative

research areas are among the primary objectives of the Volkswagen Foundation.

To this end, particular importance is attached to collaboration both

between individual disciplines as well as beyond national boundaries. Within

the framework of the funding initiative “Symposia and Summer Schools” the

Foundation seeks to foster the development of new scientific ideas and to promote

the discussion of topics and approaches not yet dealt with in an interdisciplinary

and international forum. The Foundation is particularly interested

in securing the active participation of young researchers. Funding is not

restricted to any particular discipline and there are no thematic restrictions.

In the case of symposia, workshops and small conferences, support is provided

for such meetings which stand out due to their focus on forward-looking

issues and innovative research perspectives. Besides their interdisciplinary

nature, such events must also hold promise of making a significant contribution

to gaining new insights. Participants are to be carefully selected on the

basis of their expertise in the subject matter. The group size should permit

an intensive exchange of views and ensure active individual participation.

In the case of summer schools, funding will be available for events where new

knowledge important for the further development of a particular research

area will be imparted to selected young academics (doctoral candidates, postdoctoral

researchers and those working towards qualifications as university

lecturers) from German and abroad. These events do not only aim at extending

their knowledge, but also enable them – at an early stage of their career

– to develop contacts beyond national borders and disciplines.

To ensure maximum effectiveness, the number of participants should not

exceed 80 (symposia) or 60 (summer schools); depending on the theme a

smaller number may sometimes be advisable. The venue should be within

Germany. In exceptional cases the event may also take place in another

European country. If the meeting is organized jointly with researchers from

abroad the person in charge should be an academic based at a German

research institution.

International Focus

Knowledge for Tomorrow –

Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Foundation’s funding initiative “Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative

Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa” seeks to contribute toward the

development and sustainable reinforcement of research in Africa south of

the Sahara. This is to be achieved by means of projects that are jointly developed

and carried out by African researchers in collaboration with German

partners. The program is to enable the new generation of scientists in Africa

to obtain higher qualifications and thus to provide them with an incentive

to pursue their careers in Africa. The initiative is oriented toward medium to

long-term cooperation between German and African researchers. Funding

will be available for projects across all disciplines within specific calls for proposals.

In addition, workshops, symposia and summer schools can be applied

for at any time in a two-step process.

In order to identify forward-looking topics for research and to develop innovative

research ideas in cooperation with scientists especially from the

respective countries, the Volkswagen Foundation organizes a series of thematic

workshops in Africa. The purpose of these meetings is to review the

current status of research, to define pertinent research issues and to explore

and develop the potential for collaboration – also inside Africa itself.

On the basis of these results the Foundation develops thematically defined

calls for pre-proposals. Current topics and deadlines of these calls are published

on the Foundation’s website. These calls are open to all scholars of the

relevant scientific fields – regardless of their participation in the workshops.

As a rule applications follow a two-step procedure. First, initial project outlines

are assessed by an international and interdisciplinary panel of experts.

Following a positive evaluation, applicants are invited to submit a detailed

application. When submitting their outline proposals, applicants may also

apply for the funding of meetings which may become necessary for the joint

elaboration of detailed proposals together with their project partners.

In 2006 the Foundation opened up possibilities for funding in the thematic

areas “Negotiating Culture in Contemporary African Societies” and “Resources,

Livelihood Management, Reforms, and Processes of Structural Change”. As in

the other cases, these calls for proposals resulted from discussions held at two

previously held thematic workshops. In April 2006 the Foundation organized

a workshop in Saly, Senegal, on the topic “Negotiating Culture in the Context

of Globalization”, placing the focus on the humanities in Africa. The research

field “Resources, Livelihood Management, Reforms, and Processes of Structural

Change” was the topic of a workshop held in September 2006 at the desert

research station Gobabeb in Namibia. At the center of this – for the time being

last – workshop was the inquiry into which innovative strategies for overcoming

the omnipresent ecological, economic and social problems are feasible at

the local level in Africa and have already been implemented.

Funding Facts

Established in 2003

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€8.4 million


Dr. Detlef Hanne

Natural and Engineering Sciences,


Phone +49 (0)511 8381-389

Adelheid Wessler

Humanities and Social Sciences

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-276

During an excursion into the desert near the

Gobabeb research station in Namibia, Dr. Joh

Henschel, Gobabeb, familiarized workshop

participants with the fructification process of

the nara melon, an endemic desert plant.

Crossing Borders 2007 61


Together with partners in Guinea-Bissau,

Professor Georg Klute (right) is conducting

research on local conflict management. Also

by informal talks – for instance with traditional

authorities like village elders – he and

his colleague Dr. Idrissa Embalo (left) investigate

the role of non-governmental actors.

To prepare the start of the project in Guinea-

Bissau, a meeting was held at the Instituto

Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (from the

front, left): Catarina Gomes, Dr. Elisio

Macamo, Professor Dieter Neubert, Julia

Fraunlob, Dr. Birgit Embaló, Professor Georg

Klute, Dr. Mamadou Jao, Fodé Abulai Mané,

Paulina Mendes and Daniel Rodrigues.

The year 2007 will be used by the Foundation to analyze the interim results

and to find ways to develop the initiative. The first status symposium will be

held in Bamako, Mali. It is being organized by Professor Dr. Mamadou Diawara

and Dr. Stefan Schmid from the University Frankfurt/Main, together with the

center for research Point Sud in Bamako. During this meeting, the participants

of the first three calls for proposals (“Political, Economic, and Social Dynamics

in Sub-Saharan Africa”; “Violence, its Impact, Coping Strategies, and Peace

Building”; “Communicable Diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa – from the African

Bench to the Field”) will have a chance to discuss the results and experience

gained from their projects – a great opportunity especially for the junior

researchers involved.

In addition to this, the Foundation intends to continue support in the area of

tropical medicine. Talks held between experts from several European foundations

and African researchers in spring 2007 dealt first with the framework

conditions for a fellowship program to be mutually funded by European

foundations in the area “Neglected Communicable Diseases”. This program

will be aimed at African post-docs at research institutes in sub-Saharan


Between Europe and the Orient – A Focus on Research and

Higher Education in/on Central Asia and the Caucasus

This funding initiative is aimed at drawing the region of Central Asia and the

Caucasus closer to the center of scientific attention. It focuses on those countries

in Central Asia and the Caucasus which became independent following

the collapse of the Soviet Union, specifically Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia,

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. It also

includes Afghanistan and some parts of the Russian Federation in the lower

Volga and the northern Caucasus regions. The funding offer is designed to

stimulate interest within the German scientific community to conduct

research into Central Asia and the Caucasus and, first and foremost, to

permit capacity development of research and higher education in the

target regions.

The initiative addresses the humanities and social sciences as well as the

engineering and natural sciences. Funding is available for cooperative research

projects which investigate the political, socio-economic, cultural or natural

characteristics of this region and the complex interplay between these factors.

The focus is to be on current developments as well as transformation

processes taking place.

To improve the local conditions for research and higher education and especially

the younger generation of academics the following activities can be


Reintegration of young academics: Funding is available for young scientists

and scholars who have completed their doctoral studies abroad and wish to

return to an academic institution (university or research institute) in Central

Asia and the Caucasus.

Partnership projects: These projects are designed especially to enable young

academics from countries in the target area to carry out research, based mainly

at their home institutes, in close collaboration with their German colleagues.

Infrastructural support: In this context, funding may be made available for

projects aimed at creating and improving training and research capacity in

the target region. The projects should contain exemplary measures; this may

include university courses of academic study as well as programs for the

training and further education of junior scientists.

Symposia, workshops and summer schools: Meetings between scientists

from the target region, Germany and other countries may help to define and

discuss relevant research topics, to establish contacts between academics and

institutions and to train young scientists in up-to-date methods. The venue

may either be in Central Asia/Caucasus or in Germany.

It is expected that the preparation and implementation of all such endeavors

be conducted in close collaboration and that the groundwork is laid for the

cooperation to extend beyond the funding period.

Funding Facts

Established in 1999

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€16.9 million


Dr. Wolfgang Levermann

Humanities and Social Sciences

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-212

Dr. Matthias Nöllenburg

Natural and Engineering Sciences,


Phone +49 (0)511 8381-290

The first status symposium of the Central

Asia/Caucasus Initiative brought together

researchers and experts of all the involved

disciplines for an exchange of ideas. The panel

(from left): Professor Marianne Braig, Freie

Universität Berlin, Dr. Bolot Moldobekov, Central

Asian Institute of Applied Geosciences in

Bishkek, and Dr. Gregor Berghorn from DAAD

(German Academic Exchange Service) in Bonn.

Crossing Borders 2007 63


Funding Facts

Established in 1999

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€16.5 million


Dr. Vera Szöllösi-Brenig

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-218

Documentation of Movima in Bolivia: The

photos and videos taken by Dr. Katharina

Haude, a linguist from Cologne, fascinate

the villagers of all ages.

Documentation of Endangered Languages

Of the estimated 6,500 languages currently spoken world-wide, only one

third will survive the next 100 years. The other two thirds will fall victim to a

process which can be described with the catchphrase “cultural globalization”.

The death throws of a “small language” begin, for instance, when the first

television set appears in a remote village somewhere in the jungle, transmitting

programs only in the official language of the country – which is in effect

a foreign language. In some places the development is already well underway,

for example as the perpetual consequence of a repressive state education system

which deliberately and systematically tears the children of indigenous

peoples away from their parents, forbidding their speaking the native language.

With every language which becomes extinct, a culture dies, too, and

with it a whole “world”.

Of course, it goes without saying that the initiative “Documentation of

Endangered Languages” (DOBES) established by the Volkswagen Foundation

is incapable of holding up this development. Notwithstanding, what it can do

and intends to do is to compile records of these often purely verbal languages

before they vanish without trace. The aim is not merely to compile linguistic

data in the narrow sense of the word, but also to encompass the linguistic

references to the culture, such as myths and fairy tales, for instance, but also

those everyday situations of all kinds which bear testimony to the cultural

peculiarities of the minority language. The intention is not to compile grammars

or lists of vocabulary, but to produce a multimedia collection of data

which will permit future science to investigate the widest range of issues

possible. For the speaking communities themselves this may present the

opportunity to become more aware of their culture, to perceive its own value

and possibly to develop teaching resources for schools.

Funding can be made available for two purposes. Firstly: for projects with

the aim of documenting endangered languages. Applications must include

details of the extent to which a language is endangered, its linguistic singularity,

and the status of documentation to date. The documentation must be

compiled according to the rules laid down for this funding initiative. These

rules take account of linguistic, technical as well as ethical-juridical aspects.

The Foundation expects that the collected data will be archived at the Max

Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, which is to provide the

“overall architecture” for the program. In the case of international projects,

the Foundation places great value on a substantial measure of cooperation

with German partners. Especially doctoral candidates and post-docs from

Germany are invited to submit applications. Secondly: funding is also available

for symposia, workshops and summer schools that deal with issues

surrounding the documentation of endangered languages.

Thematic Impetus

Innovative Methods for Manufacturing of

Multifunctional Surfaces

Manufacturing of multifunctional surfaces exemplifies a key technology for

the fabrication of future high-tech products. From economic and ecological

points of view the idea of integrated production technology, i.e. the consolidation

of several different functional steps by means of combining existing

production procedures or the development of new ones, shows promise. There

are numerous applications for highly specialized surfaces like surgical instruments

or sensors incorporating surfaces which react to light, pressure or temperature.

The processes involved in their production, however, are mostly

time consuming, cost intensive and give rise to environmental burdens.

Most manufacturing processes have in common that hitherto the functionalization

of the surface was achieved by means of a separate production step,

usually a final one following on the production of the component itself. Such

a sequential production procedure gives rise to considerable economic as well

as environmental drawbacks. Thus, the aim of this initiative is to promote the

advancement of process-integrated surface technology in joint research projects

involving engineers and surface technology specialists. It is expected that

targeted research on innovative and unconventional aspects of production

and surface technology will also generate new impulses for the engineering

sciences in Germany. Moreover, a successful handling of the complex issues

is expected to promote interdisciplinary efforts in this field and to reinforce

cooperation among engineers, physicists, chemists, and biologists. A thorough

consideration of the whole process chain seems to be essential for a successful

approach. This will entail expertise ranging across a spectrum from the

surface modification, through the conception of a new production procedure,

up to its technical realization.

Only cooperative projects involving researchers with complementary expertise

will be eligible for funding. The team is to be led by an engineer. The

review of the research proposals is a two-step process, and first only brief

outlines should be submitted. Following successful assessment of the outline

the Foundation will then accept a full application. Funding of projects may

include personnel as well as non-personnel costs; workshops will be supported

by the funding of travel expenses.

Funding Facts

Established in 2003

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€6.9 million


Dr. Franz Dettenwanger

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-217

Janine Eigenmann is working on the development

of metallic implants in the St. Gallen

laboratory of Dr. Arie Bruinink. As a rule,

several manufacturing steps are needed

before the implants become “biocompatible”.

Researchers participating in the joint German-Swiss

research project are hoping to

optimize these processes.

Crossing Borders 2007 65


Funding Facts

Established in 2003

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€8.0 million


Dr. Ulrike Bischler

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-350

The antenna ear of the fruit fly as an example

of a complex dynamic system: physicist

Dr. Björn Nadrowski (right) working during

his research scholarship at the Zoological

Institute in Berlin. The exchange of ideas

with colleagues like Dr. Albert Gröner (left)

and biologist Thomas Effertz (center) is not

only useful in solving difficult formulas – it

can also be fun.

New Conceptual Approaches to Modeling and Simulation of

Complex Systems

The funding initiative entitled “New Conceptual Approaches to Modeling and

Simulation of Complex Systems” aims at a better understanding of complex

systems, primarily by means of theoretical and computer-based approaches.

The Foundation intends to enable researchers in this field to move ahead

with methodological developments and evolve solutions for computer simulation

capable of generalization and systematic improvement, as well as to

explore overarching characteristics of complex systems. A main concern of

this initiative is the fostering of cooperation between theoreticians and

experts in the fields of modeling and simulation.

Experimental implementation is deliberately not a main focus, since the

Foundation seeks above all to foster the oft-neglected exchange between

researchers engaged in theory and computer-based research. The Foundation

expects this to advance research in the field of complexity, as the modeling

and simulation of complex systems is anything but simple. It is known that

knowledge of individual parameters and processes in the relevant subsystems

does not lead to improved forecasts of global behavior. The complexity

manifests itself such that the behavior of the system can no longer be cal -

culated from the subsystems by means of addition or simple mathematical

functions. Rather, the competition between autonomy and integration of the

individual elements beyond the respective hierarchical level determines the

observed complex behavior.

Research projects may be funded following thematically defined calls for proposals.

Support is provided for scientific personnel, travel and non-personnel

costs. Applications for the funding of mathematically oriented projects on

the fundamentals of complexity, individual stipends for junior researchers,

and research professorships may be submitted without reference to any specific

call for proposals. Scholarly meetings and events are eligible for support

within the funding initiative “Symposia and Summer Schools”.

In March 2007 seven new projects were granted in the framework of the call

“Complex Networks as Phenomena across Disciplines”. A total of 20 groups

is involved in these projects dealing with such different topics as the com -

parison of protein production in a cell with manufacturing in industry, the

impact of social networks on traffic, and the spreading of disease along international

trade and travel routes. For information on current calls please see

the Foundation’s website.

Evolutionary Biology

In the final analysis, all living things are a product of evolution. In the course

of the earth’s history some two million different species of organisms have

come into being, every one of them astonishingly well adapted to its respective

environment. The objective of evolutionary biologists is to explain the

development of this abundance of species and to reconstruct the temporal

sequence of the individual stages involved; today they are receiving new

impetuses via the powerful tools developed by molecular biologists. The concepts

of evolutionary biology are universal and thus transferable to different

systems: evolutionary biology is therefore capable of providing fundamental

orientation to the modern biological sciences.

However, this multifaceted and highly topical field is – also for historical

reasons – as yet comparably under-represented at most German universities.

Until now, students have had little chance to come to grips with evolutionarybiological

concepts, and at present there is a lack of attractive career perspectives

for junior scientists in Germany. Reason enough for the Volkswagen

Foundation to become involved in this field. The framework of the Foundation’s

funding initiative encompasses five individual elements, all of which

are mutually complementary:

• Competition for innovative training concepts

In order to anchor evolutionary-biological concepts more firmly in the edu -

cation process, competitions are organized in which universities can submit

their particular training concepts and compete for the available funding.

• Support for individuals

In order to provide incentives to become engaged in evolutionary biological

issues, the Foundation is prepared to fund positions for PhD students and postdocs.

Target group: outstanding German and international junior researchers,

seeking to work in Germany on a research project with an evolutionary biological

theme. Visiting professorships and lecturer posts – preferably for scientists

from abroad and non-university institutions – for a period of maximum

twelve months can also be supported within this segment of the program.

• Structural support

The Foundation will provide support for symposia designed to encourage the

active participation of junior researchers and targeting international participants;

symposia series with overlapping participation – thus promoting the

building of networks – will also be funded. An additional component includes

summer schools and summer school series designed to promote the training

and further education of junior researchers and the networking of participants.

Funding Facts

Established in 2005

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€3.3 million


Dr. Henrike Hartmann

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-376

The orchid flower occupies the complete

attention of Dr. Mariana Mondragòn-Palomino

– but more on the molecular-genetic level.

This young research scientist from Jena

hopes to elucidate questions surrounding

morphological evolution and generally

investigates how biodiversity emerges in

the course of evolution.

Crossing Borders 2007 67


Social and Cultural Challenges

Funding Facts

Established in 2002

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€12.1 million


Dr. Alfred Schmidt

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-237

Political scientist Professor Helene Sjursen

from Oslo (at the lectern) is the first person

to receive the Anna Lindh Award, jointly

offered by three foundations. The award

ceremony took place in Brussels in Sep -

tember 2006.

Future Issues of our Society – Analysis, Advice and

Communication between Academia and Practice

When it comes to finding solutions to the ecological, social and cultural

issues of our time mankind is faced with a multiplicity of challenges. That

the Volkswagen Foundation should also play its part in resolving such issues

goes without saying. It is part of the Foundation’s very identity to become

involved in areas in which society and politics – quite properly – turn to academia

for support. Hence, this funding initiative was set up with the intention

of promoting socio-political learning processes in science, politics and

the public sphere combined with application-oriented fundamental research.

In order to explore new bridgings between science and practice the Foundation

has built its funding initiative around specific calls for proposals: the

following summarizes the thematic areas covered so far.

• Individual and Societal Perspectives of Aging

This call for proposals is the fourth topic segment the Foundation has opened

within the funding initiative “Future Issues of our Society”. Via this new topic,

the Foundation seeks to steer the debate on demographic issues in a rational

direction and to encourage an individual and socially productive approach to

the associated challenges. The call for proposals encompasses three thematic

areas: Flexibility and diversity of the life course, contexts of aging, innovation

potentials of aging processes. Project applications within the first selection

round had to be submitted by June 30, 2007. Applications for the funding of

corresponding events may be submitted at any time.

• Study Groups on Migration and Integration

This funding offer aims at encouraging a necessary reshaping of immigration

policy in Germany towards a policy of real integration. It is up to research to

focus on the structural potential for the integration of migrants in European

society. Study groups are seen as especially suitable instruments to achieve

these goals. As a result of the first two calls, twelve funded groups are working

in the fields of education, economy, language, organization, and participation.

A third call is envisaged for 2008.

• European Foreign and Security Policy Studies

In 2004, together with its partner foundations “Compagnia di San Paolo” in

Turin and “Riksbankens Jubileumsfond” in Stockholm, the Volkswagen Foundation

introduced this research and training program. The offer focuses on

Common Foreign and Security Policy and on European Security and Defense

Policy, and its aim is to provide support for potential young leaders in Europe

to develop new mindsets and approaches towards intergovernmental and

supranational policies. In three selection rounds, funding for 70 young

researchers and professionals was made available so far; the last call for

proposals will end on September 30, 2007.

Within the framework of this program the partner foundations seek to reward

important contributions to the intellectual debate in this field by initiating

an award. The first person to win the Anna Lindh Award – named after the

murdered Swedish Foreign Minister – is Professor Dr. Helene Sjursen from

the Centre for European Studies at Oslo University; the ceremony took place

in September 2006.

• Welfare State Transformation: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice

The aim of this call for proposals was to break down the traditional partitioning

between career patterns in academia on the one hand, and practice on the

other. Subject matters had to be connected with issues surrounding transformation

of the welfare state in Germany, yet within an international context.

After a fifth selection round the funding offer was closed in March 2007.

The older generation has long been identified

as a consumer group possessing high

purchasing power. How does society cope

with less welcome aspects of the demographic

situation, and what does this mean

for the individual? The search for answers to

such questions is supported by the Foundation’s

funding offer “Perspectives of Aging”.

Crossing Borders 2007 69


Funding Facts

Established in 1998

Volume of funding up to May 2007:

€16.1 million


Dr. Vera Szöllösi-Brenig

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-218

On their “key issue” of a grammar of gestures

they combine linguistic and semiotic analyses

with neuropsychological research (from

left): Dr. Hedda Lausberg (University Clinic of

TU Dresden), Professor Cornelia Müller (University

of Frankfurt/Oder), Dr. Ellen Fricke (TU

Berlin) and Dr. Katja Liebal (University of


Key Issues in the Humanities – Program for the Promotion of

Interdisciplinary and International Cooperation

The funding initiative “Key Issues in the Humanities”, which was established

by the Foundation in 1998, is aimed at cultural studies and the humanities.

These disciplines are encouraged to define project themes which impact on

currently debated issues of society and which, moreover, lend themselves to

interdisciplinary investigation – if possible with the inclusion of disciplines

within the natural sciences. Via these two central requirements, the Foundation

seeks to provide incentives and corresponding funding for both the thematic

as well as the structural advancement of the humanities and cultural

studies – and in addition to encourage the members of these disciplines to

actively explore such issues within an international context. Of particular

interest are topics which can be expected to attract attention beyond the

realm of science.

It will be entirely up to them to convince the Foundation that their chosen

topic of research can only be investigated sensibly within a framework of

interdisciplinary and international cooperation, thus complying with the

stringent requirements and criteria of the program. Within this context, the

Foundation assigns particular importance to a convincing presentation and

communication of the collated results to both academic circles and the interested


Funding is available for interdisciplinary research groups working at academic

institutions in Germany. Funds may be granted for personnel costs,

especially for junior scholars, and for guest researchers (from abroad), and

also to cover non-personnel costs and travel expenses. There will be a twostage

selection process. First, an initial outline of the proposed project has to

be approved: this will be followed by an invitation to submit a more detailed

and formal application. Support is initially available for three years, rising to

a maximum of five years where considered appropriate.

“Deutsch plus” –

A Program for Multilingualism in Teaching and Research

In many areas of research, especially in the natural and engineering sciences,

it has long been commonplace to use English for publications and as the language

of conferences – even those held in Germany. Yet, there is a growing

awareness that styles of thinking and language are so inextricably intertwined

that the translation of scholarly and scientific work into another language

often proceeds at the cost of significant loss of expression, emphasis and

meaning. It is via the respective language used that specific concepts, patterns

of cognition and interpretation find their way into processes of research and

teaching, shaping their profile. These specifics of culturally determined differentiation

constitute the great wealth of nuances in all branches of science

and can only be transferred partially into another language – this applies not

only to the humanities and social sciences. Viewed in this way, science and

teaching need multilingualism.

Within this context the initiative seeks to attract more international attention

to German as one of the languages of science and to lend more weight

to research results obtained in German. The initiative encompasses four


• Calls for proposals concerning multilingual courses of study

Funding will be provided for the development and subsequent implementation

of multilingual courses of study, targeting both German as well as students

from abroad. A command of at least two languages at the level of academic

debate is to be an integrated objective of the courses. Language combinations

other than English and German will be considered.

• Translation of German academic books and articles

The funding of translations will be granted on the basis of a contest. This

component aims at professional translations of important monographs, but

also shorter articles of all disciplines, into English or another world language.

Scholars and scientists may make proposals, but not in favor of their own


• Research projects

Funding will be made available for research projects dealing with the determination

of academic thinking and production by the language used and

its characteristic stock of concepts, patterns of cognition and interpretation.

Priority will be given to projects pursuing a comparative approach and which

give rise to concrete perspectives for the practice in research and teaching.

• Academic meetings

Conferences, lectures, disputations and panel discussions designed to focus

attention on the main aspects of multilingualism in science will also be supported.

Funding Facts

Established in 2006


Prof. Dr. Hagen Hof

Phone + 49 (0)511 8381-256

Crossing Borders 2007 71


Off the Beaten Track

Funding Facts

Volume of funding in 2006 and

up to May 2007: €1.6 million


According to subject area

Assistance is provided by the

Foundation’s switchboard

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-0

Crossing the boundaries of the disciplines:

58 young researchers join forces in the “European

Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Scien ces

and the Humanities” funded by the Foundation.

The first meeting took place in Dölln see

near Berlin.

Extraordinary Projects

Even though its funding policy is to set priorities with defined initiatives, the

Volkswagen Foundation is still open for extraordinary ideas which fall outside

the normal scope of funding, i.e. individual projects which are worthy

of support due to exceptional circumstances. Two examples that qualified

for funding in 2006 illustrate the type of projects which may fall within this


Via the “European Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Sciences, and the Humanities”

the Volkswagen Foundation seeks to foster networking among junior

researchers working along the borderlines of cognitive neurosciences and the

humanities and social sciences – and in particular beyond the boundaries of

disciplines and countries. The aim is to break down the boundaries between

the disciplines, with their respective interpretative claims on the image of

man, and thereby to provide a tangible boost to the newly emerging research


Following a selection process and an initial workshop, the “platform” now

comprises 58 junior researchers drawn from all over Europe, working in eight

to ten interdisciplinary groups. The thematic foci range from time perception

through neuroethics and bodily experiences up to different perspectives on

the phenomenon of pain. The groups have received support to carry out joint

laboratory pilot experiments, to organize workshops and retreats with leading

academics and to write joint publications. In the medium term it will be

possible to support individual projects; following a two-year work-phase, the

results of the platform are to be presented within the framework of a larger


The second example: twelve interdisciplinary PhD projects are being supported

within the framework of a doctoral seminar entitled “Evaluation and Canon.

Theory and Practice of Mediating Literature in the Post-Humanist Knowledge

Society” at Göttingen University. The distinguishing feature of this postgraduate

funding in the humanities is that besides block research seminars and

working on their respective dissertations, the participants will also undertake

work practicals and traineeships at renowned publishing houses. The

aim is to combine their academic knowledge with practical experience. It is

also planned to hold a closing event at the Leipzig book fair, during which

results can be presented to both professional visitors from publishing houses

and universities, as well as to a wider audience.

Science, the Public, and Society

Fostering the understanding of science and scholarship, and communicating

the results of research is both a challenging and important task. The “public”,

as represented in political debate and in the media, today increasingly expects

that “science” descends from its ivory tower and seeks dialogue. The very

term “public” is multi-facetted: In this context it begins in the area of science

itself – as the expert in a given discipline must already be seen as belonging

to the public – ranges through the semi-public committees, up to science

journalists and the often cited “scientifically interested layperson”. Target

groups and their expectations are manifold.

In order to cope with the challenges at the interface between science and

the public, not only must researchers themselves tread new paths – researchfunding

organizations are also called upon to provide tangible support. For

this reason the Volkswagen Foundation has developed a new, cross-cutting,

and diversified funding initiative aimed at enhancing communication

between science, scholarship, and the public, in parts embracing its entire

funding portfolio. To achieve its objective the Foundation can draw on its

experience with numerous projects, platforms, and formats of communication.

The initiative encompasses three fields of action:

• A general reinforcement of public relations efforts in the framework of the

Foundation’s initiatives and projects supported

(Within projects, funds can be made available for targeted public relations

activities in various forms of knowledge transfer and diffusion);

• Focused support for calls for proposals, pilot projects, and events aimed at

enhancing communication between science, scholarship, and the public

(Both academics as well as journalists are given the opportunity to deepen

their insights into each others spheres; funding can also be provided for

training concepts and events concerning the overall theme);

The funding of selected research projects with an appropriate thematic focus

(Support for projects and scholarly meetings which deal on a methodologically

sound basis with the process of interchange between science, scholarship,

and the public; prerequisite is that they open up perspectives for the

development and contents design of future measures for disseminating


Funding Facts

Established in 2007


Adelheid Wessler

Phone +49 (0)511 8381-276

Crossing Borders 2007 73

Funding Principles

As a non-profit foundation organized under

private law, the Volkswagen Foundation must

ensure that the funds it spends on the support

of higher education and research are used economically

and in accordance with the rules.

Therefore, please note the following Funding



Funding Principles

The Volkswagen Foundation assumes that the funds

it makes available, subject to these principles, will be

managed in accordance with the rules and regulations

applying to the grant recipient*. In the case of universities,

these will be the principles applying to the management

of third party funds.

The grant recipient must ensure that these principles

along with any further communicated special conditions

are acknowledged and observed by the all parties

involved in the funding project while handling the

grant (e.g. staff members, contractors, publishers,

authors, editors, transacting cash offices).

Please notice: Those parts, which do not regularly apply to

grant recipients outside the Federal Republic of Germany

are omitted in the English translation. The grant will be

subject to the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Any court action in connection with the grant comes

under the jurisdiction of a Hanover court.

A. Calling of Funds, General Principles

of Management

1. Calling of Funds

(1) The funds required shall be applied for as early as

possible, in general at least six weeks in advance

(on the form attached which is also available on our

website). Any changes should be communicated

without delay.

(2) The Foundation in principle remits the funds in

monthly installments at the time and in the

amount needed for the purpose for which they

have been granted. Hence, the plan under which

funds are called should provide for monthly re -

quests. If monthly installments are below €5,000,

the requirement of three months may be called in


* Grant recipients of the Foundation funding are principally

academic institutions where the project/subproject

is being conducted and not the legal entity

of the applicant.

The Foundation remits amounts called only to an

account of the institution of the recipient of the

grant; in universities and other institutions under

public law, remittances are made to the re sponsible

cashier’s office.

(3) Funds paid out and, for the time being, not used as

expected, shall be remitted back immedia tely and

called again when needed. To make up for lost

interest, the Foundation shall have the right in

such cases to claim interest based on the statutory

interest rate for the time between the payment of

funds and their return remit tance or use for the

purpose for which they were granted.

(4) The funds granted are not confined to budget years

and will not expire at the end of a calen dar year.

2. Efficiency

(1) The recipient of a grant may defray from the funds

allocated only such expenditures as are covered

by the specific purpose defined in the grant letter.

Expenditures made before the receipt of the grant

letter cannot be covered in this way.

(2) The funds shall be used efficiently. Only in exceptional

cases (especially as a result of collective

salary and wage increases or price increases which

cannot be absorbed by cutbacks elsewhere) can the

Foundation increase those funds, and do so upon

substantiated request.

(3) Funds not consumed shall be paid back immedi -

ately, at the latest by the time documentation of

the use of funds is supplied.

3. Deviations from Grant

(1) Consent of the Foundation

As a matter of principle the prior consent of the

Foundation will be needed for deviations from the

grant. The consent is not needed within the range

of the possibilities of reallocation and extension of

term mentioned in clauses 2 and 3.

(2) Reallocation of the granted funds

If the grant letter (or the underlying cost plan) lists

several expense items, each indi vidual item* may

be augmented by up to 30 percent if required. However,

such reallocations presuppose that the extra

expenditures are necessary in order to achieve the

purpose of the grant, and that other items can be


Under these conditions, and within the staff complement

underlying the grant, personnel funds

may be increased by more than 30 % where this is

unavoidable due to subsequent collective wage and

salary in creases or for other reasons.

The Foundation retains the right from the outset to

exclude the possibility of reallocating personnel

allowances as non-personnel costs in certain cases.

(3) Extension of term

Deviations from the running term require the previous

consent of the Foundation. However, this does

not apply to a maximum six-month deviation from

the planned funding period on the condition that

this does not cause the Volkswagen Foundation to

incur additional costs.

B. Principles Applying to

Specific Types of Cost

4. Personnel Funds

(1) Remunerations shall be adapted to the activity and

to local (institute) conditions. The recipient of a

grant shall be responsible for determining proper

grading (according to collective agreements).

* Expense items for the purposes of this paragraph

are the total funds granted for scientific per sonnel,

additional personnel, travelling expenses, other

non-personnel running costs, equipment costs,

costs of other non-recurring purchase.

(2) Social benefits and other fringe benefits (e.g.

employer’s contribution to the statutory social

security, cost-sharing or contributions to the additional

old-age provisions and provisions for

dependents, benefits in the event of sickness,

Christmas benefits, not the child benefit pursuant

to the Federal German Child Benefit Act) in accordance

with the rules and regulations applying to

civil service, may be paid out of funds earmarked

for personnel expenses if the staff member concerned

is paid in accordance with the same rules

also in other respects. In regard to the payment of

transition benefits, this applies however with the

proviso that solely the timeframe during which the

position has been paid for out of the funds of the

Foundation will be considered for the determi -

nation of the transition benefit.

(3) Unless a regular employment contract has already

been concluded, the Foundation requires that a

written service contract be concluded which

equates to the project running term named in the

grant letter. In no case will the Foundation become

the employer of anybody on grants made available

by it.

5. Travelling Funds

(1) Travelling expenses shall be accounted for in

accordance with the rules of travelling cost

reimburse ment applying to civil service, but not in

excess of the rates requested and appropriated.

Non-German recipients of grants shall follow the

rules for travelling expense accounting valid in

their respective countries.

(2) The Foundation may fix certain basic rates to

finance stays in Germany of foreign scientists.

Travel ling and per diem allowances for foreign

scholars staying in Germany may be subject to

special rates.

Crossing Borders 2007 77


6. Equipment

(1) Unless the Foundation indicates differently, the

procurement of equipment authorized is left to the

recipient of a grant. The recipient shall bear in mind

the following aspects in such procurements:

(a) All possibilities of obtaining price reductions,

especially research commissions or discounts,

shall be exploited, if necessary by working

through central purchasing agencies.

(b) Several competing bids shall be sought for

larger items; the reasons for the choice made

shall be documented.

(c) If, in the light of more recent findings other

equipment shall be bought, the prior consent

of the Foundation is needed. The consent is not

needed if only another specification shall be

purchased. In all cases the provisions of 3 above

have to be observed.

(d) The decisions made on the items above shall be

described in the documentation of the use of

funds and in the final report, respectively.

(2) The recipient of a grant shall be responsible for

ensuring proper utilization, storage and mainten -

ance of the equipment along with taking out insu -

rance for the equipment. The Foundation shall not

be responsible for paying any running costs (e.g.,

for power consumption, insurance, maintenance,

repair, and spare parts).

(3) The equipment shall also be available to other

scientific institutions inasmuch as this does not

interfere with the purpose of the grant.

7. Title to Movable Chattels

(1) Movable chattels (equipment, books, motor vehicles,

ect.) purchased out of the funds granted shall

become the property of the recipient institution of

the grant. If a person collaborating in a project in a

responsible position changes to another institution,

then the Foundation expects that the equipment

can be taken to the new institution. The Foundation

reserves the right, in these cases or for another

important reason, to request a transfer of title to

a third party it names or to itself. This shall apply

in particular where somebody collaborating in a

project in a responsible position changes to another


(2) These items shall be recorded in inventory lists,

unless they belong in the category of supplies or

very small items. Larger objects are to be furnished

with a clearly visible reference (legend, plate,

stamp) indicating that they were purchased from

funds made available by the Volkswagen Foundation.

Literature purchased from Foundation funds

shall be marked accordingly with a bookplate.

(Plates and bookplates can be ordered on the order

form enclosed where applicable.)

(3) The recipient of a grant has the right to sell the

items if they are no longer used for their inten ded

purpose or can no longer be used. The proceeds

from such sales shall be remitted to the Foundation,

unless they are needed within the purpose of the

grant or, if this purpose has been met, for other

scien tific purposes.

(4) The above rules shall apply accordingly to items

purchased from the proceeds of such sale.

(5) If movable chattels are acquired which are durably

attached to the ground (thus becoming integral

parts), the conditions listed under 8 below shall


8. Title to Land and Buildings

(1) The recipient institution of a grant becomes the

owner of land and buildings purchased or erected

with the funds granted. In case of use for different

purposes (deviation from the purpose outlined in

the grant letter with reference to the basis for the

grant) it shall repay to the Foundation that part of

the current value that corresponds to the grant paid

by the Foundation in proportion to the total produc-

tion costs. If the property is sold at a price higher

than the current value, the proceeds of such a sale

shall replace the current value.

(2) In general, the claim for compensation under (1)

above shall be secured by entering in the Land

Register an encumbrance in the amount of the

grant appropriated or a comparable real security.

(3) Land and buildings should be marked by a clearly

visible reference (legend, plate) in an appropriate

place indicating that they were acquired or built

with funds made available by the Volkswagen


(4) This condition shall apply accordingly to acquisitions

of titles equivalent to real properties.

9. Publication Costs

Along with the customary publication of books or

in magazines, the Foundation also subsidizes digital

publications (e.g. CD-ROM, DVD, open access). To

this end, the Foundation may make an appropriate

flat-rate funding amount available after a grant

request and estimation of the preliminary costs by

the grant recipient. The Foundation is to be presented

with a voucher copy after publication and

the final bill within the framework of the audit of

allocated funds.

C. Statement of Account, Reports,


10. Statement of Account

(1) The statement of account shall be submitted in

principle promptly after the funding measures

have been completed; partial accounts shall be

rendered on request. The recipient of a grant will

be sent printed forms for such documentation in

due course.

(2) In projects only partly funded by the Foundation

the documentation shall include a statement of the

total expenditures and the funds available for the

whole project.

(3) Income and expenditures accounted for shall be

covered by documents capable of auditing. Vouchers

or copies of vouchers shall be kept ready for an

audit, but shall be sent to the Foundation only on

special request.

(4) The Foundation reserves the right to audit the

statement of account, or have it audited, on the


11. Reports

(1) If the project extends two years or more, the Foundation

expects annual interim reports.

(2) The Foundation is to be presented with the final

report promptly after completion of the project.

The notes pertaining to the drafting of interim

and final reports are to be observed.

(3) Above and beyond these reporting duties the

recipient of the grant is required to inform the

Foundation, without being asked, of all events

strongly influencing the project. This applies in

particular, if conditions for the implementation

of the project or its objectives appear to be jeo -


12. Publications

(1) In principle, all publications are to be furnished

with the annotation “Funded by Volkswagen

Foundation”. Indications to this effect should also

be made in invitations, programs (of scientific

events sponsored), or press releases.

Crossing Borders 2007 79


(2) The Foundation expects the research results funded

by it not only to be published in the traditional

print media but also to be made available on the

internet via open access.

When entering into publishing contracts scientists

participating in Volkswagen Foundation-funded

projects should reserve a none-exclusive right of

exploitation for electronic publication of their

research results for the purpose of open access. Here,

discipline-specific delay periods of generally 6 to 12

months can be agreed upon, before which publication

of previously published research results in discipline-specific

or institutional electronic archives

may be prohibited.

(3) The Foundation assumes that any questions concerning

publication along with exploitation and

utilization rights with respect to the copyright protected

publication, exploitation and use of research

results will be settled by the partners involved

before the project starts in accordance with the

rules of good research practice.

(4) The Foundation requests that one voucher copy of

each publication be mailed to it as soon as possible.

(5) The Foundation moreover asks that one copy each

of research reports and similar publications not distributed

through booksellers, which are the result

of a project funded, be sent to

– the supraregional technical informations system/library

that holds the appropriate special

subject collection

– the collection of research reports (Sammlung

Deutscher/Ausländischer Forschungsberichte)

at Technische Informationsbibliothek Hannover,

Welfengarten 1 B, 30167 Hannover


and to the respective university library.

13. Public Relations Activities

The Volkswagen Foundation places value on having

the grant recipient communicate the project supported

by the Foundation by means of active press

and public relations activity. All public relations

activities concerning the project must contain an

indication of the support by the Volkswagen Foundation

– where possible with incorporation of the

Foundation logo. All elaborate activities should be

cleared with the persons in charge of PR for the

Foundation; in principle, the PR Unit should be

informed of all public relations activities relating

to the funded project. The Volkswagen Foundation

retains the right to bring the grant recipient’s project

and its own funding decision to the attention of the

public eye. For this purpose, the grant recipient is to

provide the Foundation with current meaningful

text and photographic material upon request.

D. Miscellaneous

14. Withdrawal, Recall, Cancellation

(1) The Foundation may withdraw a grant if it has

not been claimed at least in part within two years

(from the date of the grant letter).

(2) The Foundation reserves the right to recall a grant

and reclaim funds paid out in cases where funding

principles or any special conditions added are not

observed, especially in cases where the funding

decision is based on incorrect statements, funds are

not used in accordance with the intended purposes,

or the use of funds is not documented.

(3) Moreover, the Foundation reserves the right to cancel

the funding of a project for important reasons. This

applies also if important conditions for the implementation

of the project have ceased to exist, or

the objectives of the project no longer appear to be

attainable. Handling of the obligations incurred by

the recipient of a grant is to be arranged at the given

time between said recipient and the Foundation by

special agreement.

(4) In order to make up for a loss of interest, the Foundation

may demand interest based on the statutory

interest rate for the period from the time of the disbursement

of the funding until the re-transfer of

the funding.

15. Protective Clauses, Exclusion of Liability

(1) The recipient of a grant shall be responsible for

observing the pertinent legal rules and regula tions,

official instructions and safety regulations (also in

equipment operating instructions). He under takes

to observe all rules and conventions applying in

specific research areas (e.g., the Helsinki declaration

about planning and implementing medical and

clinical experiments on humans) or considered as

standards such as rules governing good research


(2) The Foundation shall not be liable for any damage

arising from the implementation of the project

funded. In case it were to be made liable for such

damage, it shall be held harmless by the recipient

of the grant.

16. Sharing in Economic Profits

(1) The Foundation expects that – in accordance with

the respective intellectual property regulations –

the exploitation of any potential invention that

may result from the research project will be agreed

upon between the partners before the beginning of

the project.

(2) If economic profits, cost reimbursement or other

income (including those from patents) arise directly

from the project funded without, however, any

expenses being set off, the Foundation shall be

informed as soon as possible.

(3) The Foundation may claim from such income

repayment of its grant plus reasonable interest or

an adequa te share.

(4) This shall apply to income from publications (lectures,

articles, books) only if expressly stated in the

grant letter or any special conditions added.

(5) The Foundation principally assumes no costs for the

process of patent application or patent protection.

Crossing Borders 2007 81

Who’s Who

The following pages contain information on

who is responsible for what at the Volkswagen

Foundation and on the members of the Board

of Trustees. An overview of the Foundation’s

organizational structure is presented inside the

back cover.



Dr. Wilhelm Krull

is the Secretary General and

heads the Foundation’s office.

Executive Support Staff

Katja Ebeling

is responsible for coordination,

legal affairs, cooperation with

foundations and associations.

Dr. des. Torsten Breden

is assistant to the Secretary

General and responsible for

support for the Board of

Trustees as well as co operation

with research organizations

and universities.

Dr. Uta Saß

is responsible for evaluation,

internal audit, auditing of funds


Dr. Christian Jung

is responsible for

press and public relations.

Division I

Dr. Indra Willms-Hoff

heads Division I,

Natural and Engineering

Sciences, Medicine.

Dr. Ulrike Bischler

is responsible for the funding

initiative ‘New Conceptual

Approaches to Modeling and

Simulation of Complex Sys -

tems’ as well as the area


Dr. Franz Dettenwanger

is responsible for the funding

initiative ‘Innovative Methods

for Manufacturing of Multifunctional

Surfaces’, as well as

the subject areas Engineering

Sciences and Mathematics.

Dr. Anja Fließ

is in charge of the funding

initiatives ‘Lichtenberg Professorships’

and ‘University of

the Future’ as well as the

areas Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Dr. Detlef Hanne

is responsible for the funding

initiative ‘Knowledge for

Tomor row – Cooperative Re -

search Projects in Sub-Saharan

Africa’ (within the scope of

Division I) and for ‘Symposia

and Summer Schools’ as well

as the subject areas Earth

Sciences and Environ men tal

Sciences (Division I).

Dr. Henrike Hartmann

is responsible for the funding

initiative ‘Evolutionary Biology’

and in charge of the subject

areas Medicine and


Dr. Matthias Nöllenburg

is concerned with the funding

initiative ‘Between Europe

and the Orient – A Focus on

Research and Higher Education

in/on Central Asia and

the Caucasus’ (Division I) as

well as the areas Plant Bio -

logy, Zoology.

Crossing Borders 2007 85


Division II

Prof. Dr. Axel Horstmann

heads Division II,

Humanities and Social

Sciences, ‘Niedersächsisches


Dr. Marcus Beiner

is in charge of the funding

ini tiatives ‘Focus on the

Humanities’, ‘Fellowships for

Postdoctoral Research in the

Humanities at Harvard University’.

He is also respon sible

for the areas Philosophy, Theology,

Psychology, Sociology.

Prof. Dr. Hagen Hof

is responsible for the funding

initiatives ‘Schumpeter Fellowships’

and ‘Deutsch Plus’.

He is also in charge of the

‘Niedersächsisches Vorab’,

and the subject areas Law,

Architecture, Urban/Rural

Planning and Development,

Environmental Sciences

(Division II) and Education.

Dr. Wolfgang Levermann

is responsible for the funding

initiative ‘Between Europe

and the Orient – A Focus on

Research and Higher Education

in/on Central Asia and

the Caucasus’ (subject areas of

Division II). Furthermore he is

responsible for the areas History

and Geography.

Dr. Alfred Schmidt

is in charge of the funding initiative

‘Future Issues of our

Society – Analysis, Advice and

Communication between

Academia and Practice’, and

the subject areas Political Science,

Economics, Forestry and

Agro Sciences.

Dr. Vera Szöllösi-Brenig

is responsible for the funding

initiative ‘Key Issues in the

Humanities – Program for the

Promotion of Interdisciplinary

and International Cooperation’.

She is also in charge

of the funding initiative ‘Documentation

of Endangered

Languages’, and the subject

areas European Languages

and Literature, Art and Musicology,

Media Studies.

Adelheid Wessler

is responsible for the funding

initiatives ‘Knowledge for

Tomorrow – Cooperative

Research Projects in Sub-Saharan

Africa’ (areas Division II)

and ‘Science, the Public, and

Society’. She is also responsible

for the areas Ethnology, Folklore

Studies, Ancient and Non-

European Languages and


Division III

Henning Otto

heads Division III,

Finance and Administration.

Sibylle Mitscherling

is in charge of the section

Accounting and Controlling.

Christina Fallnacker

is in charge of the section

Human Resources and

Central Services.

Michael Maaß

is responsible for the section

Information and Communication


Division IV

Dieter Lehmann

heads Division IV,

Investment Management.

Carolin Bensch

is responsible for

the section Shares.

Dr. Andreas Bodemer

is in charge of the section

Interest-bearing Securities,

Cash Management.

Dr. Martina Pörschke

is responsible for the section

Real Property.

Crossing Borders 2007 87


The Board of Trustees

The Federal Government and the

government of the State of Lower

Saxony each appoint seven honorary

members for a term of office

of five years. The Trustees may be

reappointed only once. In making

its decisions, the Board of Trustees

is bound solely to the statutes of

the Volkswagen Foundation.

Board members Prof. Dr. Horst Bredekamp,

Prof. Dr. Friederike Hassauer, Prof. Dr. Wolf

Singer (photo left, from left) and Vice Chairperson

Prof. Dr. Luise Schorn-Schütte (left)

talking to Prof. Dr. Axel Horstmann, Head of

Division II, (photo right) at a meeting in the

Foundation’s office.

Lutz Stratmann (Chairperson), Minister of Science and Culture in Lower

Saxony, Hanover

Edelgard Bulmahn (Vice Chairperson), Former Federal Minister,

Member of Parliament, Berlin

Prof. Dr. Luise Schorn-Schütte (Vice Chairperson), History Department,

University of Frankfurt/Main

Prof. Dr. Klaus J. Bade, Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural

Studies (IMIS), University of Osnabrück

Prof. Dr. Horst Bredekamp, Department of Art History, Humboldt-University,

and Permanent Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin

Prof. Dr. Friederike Hassauer, Department of Romance Philology,

University of Vienna

Prof. Dr. Martin Hellwig, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective

Goods, Bonn

Prof. Dr. Brigitte Jockusch, Zoological Institute, Cell Biology, Technical

University of Braunschweig

Prof. Dr. Katharina Kohse-Höinghaus, Physical Chemistry, University

of Bielefeld

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wolfgang Kowalsky, Institute of High Frequency Technology,

Technical University of Braunschweig

Prof. Dr. Gerd Litfin, Chairman of the Board, LINOS Aktiengesellschaft,


Dr. Horst Neumann, Board of Directors, Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg

Dr. Annette Schavan, Federal Minister for Education and Research,


Prof. Dr. Wolf Singer, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research,


Organization and Contact

Division I: Natural and Engineering Sciences, Medicine


Funding Initiatives

• New Conceptual Approaches to Modeling

and Simulation of Complex Systems

Subject Area: Physics

• Innovative Methods for Manufacturing of Multifunctional Surfaces

Subject Areas: Engineering Sciences, Mathematics

• Lichtenberg Professorships

• University of the Future

Subject Areas: Chemistry, Biochemistry

• Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects

in Sub-Saharan Africa (Div. I)

• Symposia and Summer Schools (basic questions)

Subject Areas: Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences (Div. I)

• Evolutionary Biology

• European Platform for Life Sciences, Mind Sciences, and the Humanities

Subject Areas: Medicine, Neurosciences

• Between Europe and the Orient – A Focus on Research

and Higher Education in/on Central Asia and the Caucasus (Div. I)

Subject Areas: Plant Biology, Zoology

Dr. Indra Willms-Hoff /-285

Secretary: Sylvia Vogler /-286

Dr. Ulrike Bischler /-350

Secretary: Meike Silberstein /-248

Dr. Franz Dettenwanger /-217

Secretary: Petra Akrami /-372

Dr. Anja Fließ /-374

Secretary: Andrea Kulling /-388

Dr. Detlef Hanne /-389

Secretary: Nicole Richter /-372

Dr. Henrike Hartmann /-376

Secretary: Claudia Behrens /-375

Dr. Matthias Nöllenburg /-290

Secretary: Daniela Basse /-291

Telephone +49 (0)511 8381-0

Division II: Humanities and Social Sciences, Niedersächsisches Vorab


Funding Initiatives

• Focus on the Humanities

• Fellowships for Postdoctoral Research in the Humanities at the

Humanities Center of Harvard University

Subject Areas: Philosophy, Theology, Psychology, Sociology

• Schumpeter Fellowships

• “Deutsch plus” – Knowledge is Multilingual

• Niedersächsisches Vorab

Subject Areas: Law, Architecture, Urban/Rural Planning and Development,

Environmental Sciences (Div. II), Education

• Between Europe and the Orient – A Focus on Research

and Higher Education in/on Central Asia and the Caucasus (Div. II)

Subject Areas: History, Geography

• Future Issues of our Society – Analysis, Advice and

Communication between Academica and Practice

Subject Areas: Political Science, Business Studies, Economics,

Forestry and Agro Sciences

• Key Issues in the Humanities – Program for the Promotion

of Interdisciplinary and International Cooperation

• Documentation of Endangered Languages

Subject Areas: European Languages and Literature, Art and

Musicology, Media Studies

• Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects

in Sub-Saharan Africa (Div. II)

• Science, the Public, and Society

Subject Areas: Ethnology, Folklore Studies,

Ancient and Non-European Languages and Cultures

Prof. Dr. Axel Horstmann /-214

Secretary: Monika Nesper /-224

Dr. Marcus Beiner /-289

Secretary: Marion Brunk /-226

Prof. Dr. Hagen Hof /-256

Secretary: Simone Künnecke /-255

Dr. Wolfgang Levermann /-212

Secretary: Susanne Klinge /-384

Dr. Alfred Schmidt /-237

Secretary: Silvia Birck /-246

Dr. Vera Szöllösi-Brenig /-218

Secretary: Kerstin Krüger /-232

Adelheid Wessler /-276

Secretary: Ute Steinert /-341

Organization and Contact

Telephone +49 (0)511 8381-0

Secretary General Dr. Wilhelm Krull /-215

Secretary: Annemarie Batschko-Rühmann /-225

Office of the Secretary General

• Coordination, Legal Affairs, Katja Ebeling /-240

Cooperation with Foundations and Associations Secretary: Bettina Seeliger /-200

• Assistant to the Secretary General, Support for Board of Trustees, Dr. des. Torsten Breden /-211

Cooperation with Research Organizations and Universities Secretary: Susanne Grabner /-221

Evaluation, Internal Audit, Auditing of Funds Allocated Dr. Uta Saß /-331

Secretary: Margot Jädick-Jäckel /-206

Sabine Zimmerling /-205

Press and Public Relations Dr. Christian Jung /-380

Secretary: Birgit Rosengart-Kamburis /-381

Division III: Finance and Administration

Head Henning Otto /-219

Secretary: Sybille Laas /-229


• Accounting and Controlling Sibylle Mitscherling /-269

Secretary: Gabriele Darge /-268

• Human Resources and Central Services Christina Fallnacker /-220

Secretary: Claudia Kruse /-371

• Information and Communication Systems Michael Maaß /-366

Division IV: Investment Management

Head Dieter Lehmann /-351

Secretary: Marion Peiß /-352


• Shares Carolin Bensch /-354

• Interest-bearing Securities, Cash Management Dr. Andreas Bodemer /-239

• Real Property Dr. Martina Pörschke /-365


Kastanienallee 35

30519 Hannover


Phone: +49 (0)511 8381-0

Fax: +49 (0)511 8381-344

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