Education and Science Diplomacy

Building sustainable partnerships (Connect); providing evidence-based advice to policy-makers (Inform); creating the conditions for independent science, research and teaching (Enable): These are the pillars of education and science diplomacy.

Gruppe von vielfältigen Menschen
The BMBF’s education and science diplomacy has three main pillars © Adobe Stock /Thaut Images

Whether it is climate change, species extinction or urbanization, no country can master the challenges of our time on its own. These challenges require international cooperation – particularly in the areas of education, science and research. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) therefore engages in global efforts to create the conditions for international networking and cooperation. Education and science bring people together. They build bridges between countries and contribute to mutual understanding. That is the basis for trusting relations and international policy-making, founded on scientific facts.

The BMBF’s education and science diplomacy has three main pillars:

Connect: Bringing people together with education and science around the world

Joint study and research brings people and societies from different cultures closer together. It also fosters mutual understanding. Cultural differences become less important as joint work is based on international scientific standards.

Trainees and researchers from Germany and around the world become “ambassadors” of their home countries through cooperation in international projects that are based on mutual trust. In this way they promote tolerance and openness.

The BMBF therefore supports international education and science collaborations in many countries, thus making a significant contribution to civil society exchange.

Examples: Connect

CONNECT Education-Research-Innovation

The competition “CONNECT Bildung-Forschung-Innovation” (CONNECT Education-Research-Innovation), which was launched by the BMBF in 2019, promotes the further development of cooperation projects and structures between German and international partners in order to raise these to a new level by connecting them with further partners. This will help to connect existing international research collaborations, identify overarching topics, add additional aspects to the content and integrate new partners. This kind of networking provides impetus for growth in terms of numbers (additional participants in the existing context) as well as in terms of quality (diversification of the range of topics and participants). The aim of the networking is to make a direct contribution to productive international cooperation for the benefit of all participants.

CONNECT funding call (in German): https://www.bmbf.de/foerderungen/bekanntmachung-2241.html

Erasmus +

Whether it is a period of study in Estonia, a vocational internship in France, a school exchange in Poland or maybe voluntary work in Greece, the EU’s Erasmus+ programme makes it possible to gain European experience. More information available here.

VETWorldwide

VETWorldwide (or Vocational Training Worldwide) is a BMBF funding programme providing financial support for periods of practical training spent abroad as part of vocational training. Trainees as well as trainers can acquire international vocational competence in foreign companies, gathering new experience for their training and personal development.
More information available (in German) here.

Inform: Knowledge and innovation for a better future

We are facing diverse and multiple challenges of a global, regional and local nature. It is particularly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic that politicians are dependent on reliable data and research results in order to make informed policy decisions. Research is therefore an important foundation for policy that is based on knowledge: It provides information on causes and effects. It can also identify concrete needs and options for political action.

Many challenges can only be solved through international cooperation. This is why we cooperate with our partners around the world in the global knowledge society and in doing so open up international perspectives for Germany.

The BMBF funds innovative research projects by international teams and supports the training  of researchers and skilled workers around the world in order to drive the development and implementation of innovations. Education and research and development thus provide an important contribution for creating more prosperity in society.

Examples: Inform

CLIENT II – International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovations

The BMBF supports demand-oriented research collaborations with selected emerging and developing countries under its funding measure “CLIENT II – International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovations”. More information available here.

WASCAL and SASSCAL

Since July 2010, following a one-year preparatory phase, the BMBF has been supporting the establishment of two Regional Science Service Centres (RSSC) for climate change and adaptive land management with partners from eleven West African and five Southern African countries in their respective regions. By 2018, the BMBF had already invested more than 100 million euros in the two centres WASCAL and SASSCAL.
Further information:

FONA: WASCAL & SASSCAL https://www.fona.de/en/measures/international-cooperation/regional-science-service-centres.php

WASCAL: https://wascal.org/

SASSCAL: http://www.sasscal.org/

Poverty-related diseases and infection research

Pathogens know no borders. The challenges posed by increasing antimicrobial resistance can only be solved and epidemics combated through international cooperation. More information available here.

Maria Sibylla Merian Centres

Maria Sibylla Merian Centres for Advanced Studies enable research in the humanities and social sciences in long-term, transnational work contexts in India, Mexico, Brazil, Ghana, and Tunisia. More information available here.

Enable: We support education and science

Science transcends borders. As part of its education and science diplomacy activities, the BMBF supports the establishment of international research infrastructures, promotes the mobility of trainees, students and researchers, and provides funding and support towards future skills and technologies.

The BMBF also promotes the freedom of science, research and teaching. The freedom of science is firmly established in Article 5 (3) of Germany's constitution, the Basic Law. However, in most of the world’s countries, freedom of science and research is not a fundamental right, and in many countries abuses and restrictions by government and business are commonplace.

Science diplomacy requires dialogue. The BMBF brings together the German stakeholders in education and science diplomacy. It is only through regular exchange among all education and research institutions in Germany that joint measures for international research cooperation can have a sustainable impact.

Examples: Enable

German-Russian Roadmap for Cooperation in Education, Science, Research and Innovation

Germany and Russia share long and wide-ranging experience of cooperation in education, science and research. For example, the two countries have been cooperating together successfully for a long time with other international partners in the development and construction of large scientific facilities. More information available (in German) here.

Bologna Process

In facilitating the mobility of students and academic staff, the Bologna Process makes an important contribution towards the further development of national higher education systems in Europe and to the provision of quality-assured and comparable qualifications for the labour market and for academic careers. More information available here.

 Further information here.

International cooperation in vocational education and training

Germany’s dual system of vocational education and training (VET) enjoys an excellent international reputation and is very much in demand around the world. This is supported by the Federal Government’s one-stop strategy for international cooperation on VET. More information available (in German) here.

This is what we mean by “education and science diplomacy”

For the BMBF, education and science diplomacy means activities at the intersection of international politics, education, science and innovation which

1. help to create lasting partnerships based on trust with a country or region. These kinds of activities help to secure international stability (Connect)

2. help to solve global, regional and national challenges. Central elements include providing support for innovations that create greater prosperity and societal benefits, and providing evidence-based advice to policy-makers (Inform).

3. make it possible to create suitable conditions for international education and science collaborations ranging from basic scientific research to applied research. In this context, the BMBF actively pursues its commitment to the freedom of science, research and teaching (Enable).