Sunday 27 July 2008

Emmy Noether Meeting in Postdam

From Friday to Sunday I was in Potsdam for the yearly Emmy Noether meeting organized by DFG (German Science Foundation). The Emmy Noether Program seems to me one of the most attractive funding options for early career researchers I know of (world wide).

This year I was in the preparation team for the meeting and was co-organizing one workshop where we discussed experiences with research funding in other countries and what ideas for improving current programs we can see. The workshop was on how we can benefit from having students rather than seeing them as “teaching load” – especially in computer science (I organized it with Andreas Butz).

The meeting is always very interesting as it brings together people, funded by DFG in the Emmy Noether Program, across all disciplines. In the political evening we had a keynote by Professor Hans Weiler looking at the current problems of the German systems ("Eliten im Wettbewerb - Die deutschen Hochschulen und die internationale Konkurrenz" ) – one message I saw in the talk is that Germany is very efficient – looking how little money is spend in education and research the outcome is surprising. (But this is only a positive message if we do not want to play a leading role in the world of science and technology). It became very clear that the overall system lacks massively in funding. The additional funding that is provided by the German Government in the widely publicized call for elite universities (Exzellenzinitiative) is 1900 million Euros over 5 years (about 5€/citizen/year)– impressive? Not really – this less than the amount projected for the “Yale Tomorrow” campaign – a 5 year program in fundraising by a single University in the US. And Stanford University has even a bigger campaign as Prof. Weiler told – and there are a few other Universities in the league in the US...