Since our gathering in Wellington about this time last year much has been happening and I write to you with an update and season’s greetings.
Death of Arija Schwerdtfeger
Following the colloquium in New Zealand, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, former President of the New Zealand Association of von Humboldt Fellows, contacted me to advise of the sad news of Arija Schwerdtfeger’s death on 2 February 2017. As many of you will know, Arija’s husband, also Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, was founding President of the Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows (AAvHF) (and not related to his New Zealand namesake). Arija regularly attended the activities of the Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows and many of us knew her well from the biennial meetings. She endeared herself to our members and we have her in fond memory. I wrote to her family on behalf of the Australian Association expressing our condolences.
Humboldtians in Berlin
The end of June saw the annual gathering of Alexander von Humboldt Fellows currently in Germany. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation continues the tradition of arranging a visit of the Australian Fellows to our Embassy in Berlin. The photos show the delegation of Australian Humboldtianer und Humboldtianerinnen, in the first instance with the Australian Ambassador, Lynette Wood, and in the second photo with Dr Katrin Amian from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Anneliese Maier Research Award
Professor Ingrid Piller from Macquarie University was one of eight international researchers, selected from a total of 111 nominees from 30 countries, to receive this year’s Anneliese Maier Research Award. The life-time achievement award is presented by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to leading researchers in the humanities and social sciences to help promote internationalisation of these disciplines in Germany. Awardees are nominated by German collaborators and the award valued at €250,000 is designed to finance their research collaboration over a period of up to five years. The Anneliese Maier Research Award will support Ingrid and her German partners at the University of Hamburg to continue their research agenda related to language education in linguistically diverse migrant-receiving and globalising societies, enabling a comparative perspective through the combination of Australian and German research in multilingual education. The awards ceremony and research symposium for the Anneliese Maier Research Awards took place in Berlin from 11-13 September.
Publication from 2017 Colloquium
In September, after months of hard work, AAvHF Honorary Secretary Associate Professor published a handsome e-book with papers from the 2017 joint colloquium of the Australian and New Zealand Associations of von Humboldt Fellows. The details for the volume are:
Trevor Finlayson (editor) The Changing World in the South Pacific: Australasian and German Perspectives (September 2018) available here.
Trevor spent weeks dialoguing with colloquium speakers and referees to gather together the papers for publication and then meticulously edited the manuscript for publication. The Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows is indebted to him for this valued scholarly contribution building on a successful colloquium.
Visit of German Federal Ministry of Education and Research Delegation
On 29 October a delegation from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research visited Canberra to discuss scientific and technological cooperation with its Australian counterparts. At the request of the Foundation in Bonn, the Alexander von Humboldt network was represented by Professor Hans Bachor, who is the Canberra contact for the AAvHF Committee. Importantly, Hans highlighted the ongoing links between Germany and Australia catalysed through the Humboldt Foundation. He reported that the representatives of the German and Australian Ministries acknowledged the positive effects of the work of the Foundation and our Australian Association.
The DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, German Academic Exchange Service) held an alumni meeting entitled The Responsibility of Science and Technology for Innovation in Melbourne on 2-4 November. On the Saturday the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Anna Prinz, together with Dr Dorothea Rueland, DAAD Secretary General, hosted a dinner cruise for delegates. I was delighted to be able to represent the AAvHF. The previous day, the conference was opened with welcome addresses given by Vice-President Professor Jeff Malpas, on behalf of the AAvHF, as well as by the Vice-Chancellor of The University of Melbourne, Professor Duncan Maskell, and Drs Prinz and Rueland.
The end of this year sees the completion of a very significant project: the DAAD-AAvHF Research Ambassadors and Mentoring Program (RAMP). This successful collaboration between our Association and the DAAD has fostered the development of young researchers through the generous support of established researchers who offered independent career advice and other mentoring to the young researchers. This project was the initiative of Associate Professor Kay Double from the University of Sydney who was awarded a Humboldt Alumni Prize for Innovative Initiatives. The prize, valued at 25,000 Euros, supported the project from 2013-2018. I am sure that you will join me in congratulating Kay on her successful project and thanking her for this most valuable initiative.
Many of you support German-Australian cooperation arising out of your own research experience in Germany or in other ways ‒ such as, participation in the Australian-German Science and Innovation Day during Brisbane’s German Week or in the Falling Walls Lab organised by the Australian Academy of Science in association with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Australia. The latter initiative, with reference to the fall of the Berlin Wall, has at “its heart … the question ‘Which are the next walls to fall?’ as a result of scientific, technological, economic and sociological breakthroughs”. These contributions are valued and build on the philosophy that underpins the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and its awards.
Alexander von Humboldt’s birthday was celebrated ‘down under’ again this year with a number of events held across the country in September. In Melbourne I joined local fellows and Honorary Consul Michael Pearce SC at the German Club Tivoli in Windsor for an enjoyable birthday dinner.
I express the Association’s thanks to our State/Territory contacts who organise these occasions and support other local activities. I also acknowledge with gratitude the other members of the AAvHF executive ‒ Honorary Secretary Associate Professor Trevor Finlayson, Honorary Treasurer Professor Gary Bryant, and Vice-President Professor Jeff Malpas. They generously support the AAvHF with great professionalism and a substantial time commitment.
May I take this opportunity to wish you and your families blessings for the Christmas season and every good wish for 2019. I hope that many of us will be able to catch up next year at Macquarie University for the planned joint colloquium with the New Zealand Association. The intended dates are 22-24 November 2019; the colloquium convenor is Professor Ingrid Piller (firstname.lastname@example.org).During the coming months, please take note of emails, which will provide important information concerning our Association’s 18th biennial colloquium.
With very kind regards,
President, Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows