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"A flagship of Freiburg as a place for research" - MP Saint-Cast highlights the importance of FRIAS

During a visit to FRIAS, Nadyne Saint-Cast (Green Party), member of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament, emphasized the important role of the institute in promoting stellar international research.

On June 13, 2024, Nadyne Saint-Cast (The Greens), member of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament, visited FRIAS to learn about the current research topics, events and funding activities at the institute. She discussed the importance of FRIAS for the University of Freiburg and the role of IAS for the German research landscape with the FRIAS Board of Directors. FRIAS Fellows Prof. Dr. Eva von Contzen (University of Freiburg) and Prof. Dr. Karola Kreitmair (University of Wisconsin) gave insights into their research and explained how much their academic careers have benefited from their stays at FRIAS.

Everyone present at the visit considered the continuation of FRIAS after 2013 when they stopped receiving the funding for excellence [funding received by German universities as part of the German Universities Excellence Initiative] as an important success for Freiburg as a place for research and for the German scientific landscape as a whole. As part of the negotiations for the Baden-Württemberg state budget for 2022, Saint-Cast had campaigned to secure the continued existence of FRIAS through joint funding from state and university funds.

"I am very pleased that we were able to secure funding for FRIAS and I am delighted that I was able to contribute to this. FRIAS is a flagship for Baden-Württemberg and Freiburg as a place for research. New and innovative solutions can emerge when stellar international researchers from different disciplines work together on future issues. The examples of resource efficiency and the use of AI in medicine demonstrated that to me."

FRIAS indispensable for the Excellence Strategy

FRIAS is one of the few Institutes for Advanced Studies in Germany that does not receive direct funding from the Excellence Initiative. In 2021, the German Science and Humanities Council emphasized the importance of institutions like FRIAS for innovation in the German research landscape. The Council presented FRIAS as a model. "FRIAS serves as a forum and incubator for excellent research, strengthens the international visibility of the university through its guest researchers from all over the world and its network of over 800 alumni/ae, and it promotes interdisciplinary debates on current topics," says FRIAS Director Prof. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff. The panel also agreed that these advantages make FRIAS indispensable for the University of Freiburg in the current round of the Excellence Strategy.

The self-identified purpose of FRIAS of being a place of unconditional academic freedom was particularly praised during the visit. In times of intensifying conflicts and intimidation attempts, it offers a safe space for controversial debates. On top of that, scientists whose research is under existential threat are offered protection. This was recently demonstrated by researchers from Russia and Ukraine who found refuge at FRIAS and were allowed to continued their work.

Strengthening the exchange between science and politics

The opportunities that a fellowship at FRIAS offers for academic career development were demonstrated by contributions from English literature scholar Prof. Dr. Eva von Contzen and Prof. Dr. Karola Kreitmair who studies medical ethics.

Prof. Dr. Eva von Contzen came to FRIAS from Bochum in 2013 when she became a Fellow, and successfully applied for a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) with the project "Lists in Literature and Culture: Towards a Listology". In 2017, she was awarded a tenure-track professorship at the University of Freiburg, which was made permanent in 2023. From 2022 onwards, she has led a project group at FRIAS on the topic of "Rethinking the Middle Ages". With this format, FRIAS supports interdisciplinary collaborations between researchers at the University of Freiburg that are still at an early stage. At the same time, von Contzen once again successfully applied to the ERC for a prestigious Consolidator Grant. FRIAS thus played a decisive role in shaping her career and made her appointment to professorship at the University of Freiburg possible.

Prof. Dr. Karola Kreitmair presented her FRIAS research project on issues of medical ethics relating to the use of patient data, including a comparison between Germany and the USA. Kreitmair was a Fellow at FRIAS in 2023 and will return to the institute for a few weeks in the summer of 2024 as part of the Alumnae Program. This program serves to strengthen the international network of FRIAS and reinforces the global connections of the University of Freiburg.

"The mutual exchange between research institutions and political actors is very much desirable for FRIAS," said Prof. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff about the exchange with Nadyne Saint-Cast. This is the only way to ensure that political decisions are made on the basis of objective and accurate facts, and that research keeps an eye on political developments and needs, he continued. "As a politician, I benefit immensely from direct exchange with scientists and researchers," said Nadyne Saint-Cast. "The University of Freiburg is exemplary here: with the regular parliamentary breakfast in Stuttgart, it provides a space for joint exchange of ideas between research and politics. That's good, because we still don't have answers and solutions to many of the questions of our time. That's why we need science and research."

[Text: Dr. Max Bolze, Head of Press and Public Relations, translated by Lilly Kanthak, last updated on 19.06.2024]