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Demo­cra­cy is under attack, as are human rights out­side and insi­de the aca­de­my, and scho­l­ars are at risk. The key­note pro­po­ses an ethics that calls on uni­ver­si­ties to tru­ly wel­co­me the­se scho­l­ars, with more than a ben­evo­lent ges­tu­re. Ins­tead, the uni­ver­si­ty must be the space for a tru­ly cos­mo­po­li­tan “edu­ca­ti­on” via exchan­ge among equals – which adds Alex­an­der and Caro­li­ne to Wil­helm von Hum­boldt. This allows an “enligh­te­ned and acti­ve mind … to wan­der free­ly and wide­ly”, as “one of the joys and rewards of human exis­tence” – which is the ver­si­on of the United Nati­ons Com­mit­tee on such human rights. This com­mit­ment to safe­guard edu­ca­ti­on and aca­de­mic free­dom jus­ti­fies uni­ver­si­ty auto­no­my; the way a uni­ver­si­ty deals with scho­l­ars at risk is a lit­mus test of its prac­ti­ce, and its abi­li­ty to con­tri­bu­te to demo­cra­cy at all. At the 2018 Scho­l­ars at Risk con­fe­rence in Ber­lin, key­notes have addres­sed aca­de­mic free­dom (Hood­far) and open inqui­ry (But­ler), social sta­bi­li­ty and sus­tainab­le deve­lo­p­ment (Hil­gert). On its last day, the­re is a need to address the insti­tu­ti­on that hosts scho­l­ars, as the insti­tu­ti­on that allows for, that empowers and that invests in rese­arch and tea­ching and orga­ni­zes edu­ca­ti­on: the uni­ver­si­ty. If we under­stand the role of the uni­ver­si­ty for demo­cra­cy, we find the insti­tu­tio­nal ans­wer to the ques­ti­on of what needs to be done when scho­l­ars are at risk. Sin­ce the cur­rent poli­ti­cal situa­ti­on is extre­me­ly worry­ing, it is also a rather urgent Ber­lin call for uni­ver­si­ty ethics. If nee­ded, it can easi­ly be app­lied to other insti­tu­ti­ons respon­si­ble for aca­de­mic affairs. Three dimen­si­ons of Hum­boldt My first ques­ti­on is: Do you know Hum­boldt? Inde­ed, the­re is a Ber­lin uni­ver­si­ty that car­ri­es the name (and many others, on many con­ti­nents). Yet the name refers to peop­le: Fami­lie Hum­boldt. Pri­ma­ri­ly, in dis­cus­sions of aca­de­mic work, “Hum­boldt” is a remin­der of Wil­helm, the Prus­si­an bureau­crat who star­ted what is now known as the Hum­boldt model of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on, imple­men­ted in Ber­lin in 1810.1 This con­cept of hig­her edu­ca­ti­on is based, nota­b­ly, on the free­dom of tho­se wil­ling to learn to choo­se your cour­se of stu­dies. It´s run­ning mode is the com­mu­ni­ty of scho­l­ars and stu­dents, thus both lear­ning tog­e­ther in enga­ging in rese­arch, free from eco­no­mic or poli­ti­cal pres­su­re and limi­ta­ti­ons. Today, we call this aca­de­mic free­dom and insti­tu­tio­nal auto­no­my. Howe­ver, the­re is also Alex­an­der, the geo­gra­pher, natu­ra­list and lin­gu­ist, a fore­seer of cli­ma­te chan­ge, and aut­hor of Kosmos.2 He did not only live interdisciplinarity,3 yet also lived a cosmopolitan4 life, a gay man even­tual­ly coun­te­ring more than just nar­row-min­ded­ness, but colo­ni­al mind­sets regar­ding the unknown, the other. Today, we may call this the unbia­sed search for, still, the truth.5 And the­re is Caro­li­ne – do never for­get the women! She mar­ried Wil­helm, and – yet, nota­b­ly alrea­dy then – led a libe­ra­ted life.6 Like Alex­an­der, she did not only tra­vel, but went pla­ces to stay. She also initia­ted litera­ry salons, the at the time legi­ti­ma­te for­mat to sta­ge deba­te, orga­ni­ze collec­ti­ve enqui­ry, con­tex­tua­li­ze knowledge.7 Susan­ne Baer More Than Wel­co­me: A Ber­lin Call for Uni­ver­si­ty Ethics 1 R. D. Ander­son, Ger­ma­ny and the Hum­bold­ti­an Model. 2004 2 In Eng­lish: Cos­mos. Sketch for a Phy­si­cal Descrip­ti­on of the Uni­ver­se. Gene­ral­ly, see Sor­kin, David. „Wil­helm Von Hum­boldt: The theo­ry and prac­ti­ce of self-for­ma­ti­on (Bil­dung), 1791–1810.“ Jour­nal of the Histo­ry of Ide­as 44.1 (1983): 55–73. On the bro­thers, see Gei­er, Man­fred. „Die Brü­der Hum­boldt.“ Eine Bio­gra­phie. 2009. 3 See Can­non, Sus­an Faye. Sci­ence in Cul­tu­re: The Ear­ly Vic­to­ri­an Peri­od. 1978; Jar­di­ne, N; Secord, J.A.; Spa­ry, E.C. Cul­tures of Natu­ral Histo­ry. 1996. 4 In regard to the much deba­ted topic of “glo­bal citi­zenship” in the U.S. cf. K. Hov­land, Shared Futures: Glo­bal Lear­ning and Libe­ral Edu­ca­ti­on, 2006. The term cos­mo­po­li­tan is used in varied ways by Imma­nu­el Kant, Per­pe­tu­al Peace, who app­lies this (older) idea in terms of a phi­lo­so­phy of law; cf. Idea for a Uni­ver­sal Histo­ry with a Cos­mo­po­li­tan Pur­po­se, 1784; and which is also refer­red to by Wil­helm von Hum­boldt, Ide­as for an endea­vour to defi­ne the limits of sta­te action, 1792. Today, the­re are several ver­si­ons of cos­mo­po­li­ta­nism, incl. Kwa­me A. Appiah, Cos­mo­po­li­ta­nism: Ethics in a world of stran­gers, 2006. 5 Cer­tain­ly, this is the truth and not the Truth, in that it reco­gni­zes the chal­len­ge in fin­ding con­sen­sus on what must be con­si­de­red real, taking sub­jec­ti­vi­ties and posi­tio­na­li­ties into account. Yet this does not result in a cyni­cal or nihi­list aban­don­ment of the noti­on, or the search, which seems rather dan­ge­rous when popu­list auto­crats claim “facts” to be ent­i­re­ly at their dis­po­sal. 6 See Hazel Rosen­strauch: Wahl­ver­wandt und eben­bür­tig. Caro­li­ne und Wil­helm von Hum­boldt. 2009; Dag­mar von Gers­dorff: Caro­li­ne von Hum­boldt. Eine Bio­gra­phie. 2011; Ste­phan, Inge. „Wahl­ver­wandt­schaf­ten. Caro­li­ne und Wil­helm von Hum­boldt in ihren Brie­fen.“ Zeit­schrift für Ger­ma­nis­tik (2010): 205–214. 7 Hazel Rosen­strauch, Wahl­ver­wandt und eben­bür­tig. Caro­li­ne und Wil­helm von Hum­boldt. 2009. Ord­nung der Wis­sen­schaft 2019, ISSN 2197–9197 2 O RDNUNG DER WISSENSCHAFT 1 (2019), 1–6 8 Most worry­ing, we see attempts to claim the grand and noble terms of a con­sen­sus reached around the glo­be after 1945 and again after 1989, in order to des­troy it, i.e. turn “demo­cra­cy” into “illi­be­ral demo­cra­cy”, or “law” into a means to des­troy legal pro­tec­tion, or “courts” into sca­pe­goa­ts for government inte­rests. The­re are claims to a “true mea­ning” of key con­cepts that gua­ran­tee our social fab­ric, based on peace, and digni­ty in equal liber­ty, as respect. This is not intel­lec­tual­ly enter­tai­ning, and not yet ano­t­her instance of hege­mo­nic strugg­le, eli­tes figh­t­ing for words, a sys­tem des­troy­ing its­elf. Alt­hough rather fla­wed Mar­xists may get exci­ted about more trou­ble on the ground still hoping for a revo­lu­ti­on, this is eit­her naï­ve or eli­tist. Ins­tead, the­re is an orga­ni­zed attack on demo­cra­cy and the rule of law, in con­sti­tu­tio­na­lism. See recent­ly, Made­lei­ne Alb­right: Fascism: A Warning, 2018. 9 Around the world, edu­ca­ti­on is not in good shape. The­re are stu­dents at risk, or alrea­dy hurt – like the girls abduc­ted by Boco Haram and all the child­ren tur­ned into sol­di­ers or gang mem­bers and all tho­se star­ving ins­tead of going to school – depri­ved of their human right to edu­ca­ti­on. The­re are tea­chers at risk, or alrea­dy fired, or threa­tened, or kil­led. Today, in light of thre­ats to aca­de­mic free­dom and to demo­cra­cy over­all, I sug­gest to draw inspi­ra­ti­on from all three. To enga­ge in and for the uni­ver­si­ty, and to allow for and con­tri­bu­te to demo­cra­cy, the­re is a need for all three dimen­si­ons they do repre­sent. Wil­helm – to under­stand aca­de­mic free­dom and the uni­ver­si­ty in its demo­cra­tic func­tion, Alex­an­der – to get the cos­mo­po­li­tan natu­re of the task, to imple­ment glo­ca­li­sa­ti­on in light of glo­ba­li­sa­ti­on, and Caro­li­ne – to tru­ly value the aca­de­my as a diver­se space of exchan­ge among equals. Why is this important today? To be very clear, this is not just an argu­ment for pity with peop­le in need. Inde­ed, it is also not just an argu­ment for soli­da­ri­ty with tho­se who have your job else­whe­re and are less com­for­ta­ble in it. Rather, this is a remin­der of the cru­cial role that uni­ver­si­ties play in this world, and of our respon­si­bi­li­ty for it. Name­ly, the­re is an urgent need for pro­per action becau­se demo­cra­cy is under attack, inclu­ding human rights and the insti­tu­tio­nal arran­ge­ments of the rule of law to pro­tect them. This key­note does not allow me to dis­cuss the details. But the stra­te­gi­cal­ly well plan­ned attacks by popu­lists, employ­ing the more or less sub­t­le means of auto­cra­tic lega­lism, as well as the out­right dest­ruc­tion by means of sheer for­ce do exist, and they are deeply worrying.8 Cer­tain­ly, loca­ti­ons and con­texts dif­fer, as does the harm, inclu­ding the harm to stu­dents and scholars.9 It also hap­pens out­side of as well as insi­de the aca­de­my that acti­vists and jour­na­lists and jud­ges and more, as well as scho­l­ars and stu­dents, are per­se­cu­t­ed, threa­tened, jai­led and even mur­de­red. Right now, the­re are many pres­sing issu­es that need to be addres­sed. Yet regar­ding scho­l­ars, it is of cru­cial impor­t­ance to under­stand uni­ver­si­ties and what they can and need to do. Inde­ed, demo­cra­cy does rely on uni­ver­si­ties and on aca­de­mic free­dom in spe­ci­fic ways. It is uni­ver­si­ties that have a spe­ci­fic role to play in allowing for and defen­ding demo­cra­cy. Again, be sure to pro­per­ly defi­ne what is meant by this: “demo­cra­cy”. Yet to defend demo­cra­cy as a respect­ful way of the social, we need a deep sen­se of the university´s glo­cal natu­re and need for equa­li­ty in diver­si­ty to fill it. So let me first address the role of the uni­ver­si­ty today. The argu­ment is that aca­de­mic free­dom and insti­tu­tio­nal auto­no­my are key, if pro­per­ly unders­tood, as requi­re­ments of Humboldt´s ver­si­on of edu­ca­ti­on. As such, the uni­ver­si­ty has a poli­ti­cal func­tion, as a fac­tor of demo­cra­cy. Second, this free­dom and this auto­no­my come with an ethics. Spe­ci­fi­cal­ly, in an gover­nan­ce mode of modest rea­lism, all uni­ver­si­ties have an inter­na­tio­nal dimen­si­on today, which requi­res them to be diplo­ma­tic going abroad, and true hosts at home, wil­ling and able to inter­act with the other as an equal. Third, then, hos­ting scho­l­ars at risk is a lit­mus test for uni­ver­si­ties. You do only pass this test if you allow for, empower, and invest in dif­fe­rent voices. Again, the point is that scho­l­ars at risk must enjoy more than a gra­cious ges­tu­re. For many rea­sons, they and their exper­ti­se must be tru­ly wel­co­me. And sin­ce it draws inspi­ra­ti­on from the Humboldt´s and sin­ce we are in a city that went through dra­ma­tic chan­ges in the world´s histo­ry, this is a Ber­lin call for uni­ver­si­ty ethics. The role of the uni­ver­si­ty today The star­ting point is that the­re is an inextri­ca­ble link bet­ween the uni­ver­si­ty and demo­cra­cy. Cer­tain­ly, this link does only exist bet­ween demo­cra­cy that deser­ves its name, and a uni­ver­si­ty that lives up to an enligh­te­ned under­stan­ding of aca­de­mic free­dom and uni­ver­si­ty auto­no­my. As part of the cur­rent pro­blem, this can­not be taken for gran­ted at all. Regar­ding demo­cra­cy, the­re is an immi­nent and power­ful abu­se of the label. What Hun­ga­ri­an Pre­si­dent Orban has label­led “illi­be­ral demo­cra­cy” is not in need of aca­de­mic free­dom. Nor is a demo­cra­cy that reli­es on tweeted news and denies the exis­tence or rele­van­ce of facts in need of rese­arch. Rather, the­se repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of what they still call demo­cra­cy abu­se the con­cept to des­troy it. When poli­ti­ci­ans win majo­ri­ties in elec­tions pro­c­lai­ming “illi­be­ral demo­cra­cy” or the “true rule of our law”, but elec­tions are mani­pu­la­ted and law is denoun­ced and con­sti­tu­ti­ons are chan­ged into a con­tra­dic­tion in terms and courts are ridi­cu­led, and when “truth” and Susan­ne Baer · A Ber­lin Call for Uni­ver­si­ty Ethics 3 10 Note that in coun­tries like the U.S., the­re is a tempt­ati­on to con­fu­se free speech with aca­de­mic free­dom, for lack of a more refi­ned con­cept, to be found in inter­na­tio­nal human rights law, or expli­ci­tly in Ger­man con­sti­tu­tio­nal law. 11 Lern­frei­heit, ins­tead of rigid cur­ri­cu­la, still defi­ning the dif­fe­rence bet­ween Ph.D. stu­dies and a doc­to­ra­te 12 Simi­lar to public broad­cas­ting, sta­te fun­ding of tru­ly auto­no­mous rese­arch is a para­do­xi­cal and cou­ra­ge­ous move in that tho­se in power fund tho­se desi­gned for cri­tique. “facts” and “argu­ments” beco­me labels for lies, legends, or libel, echoed by power­ful peop­le in office and algorhyth­ms, all of us have a serious pro­blem. Oppo­sed to the­se opp­res­si­ve plans, a demo­cra­cy that is inextri­ca­b­ly rela­ted to fun­da­men­tal human rights, and thus – by the way, not “Wes­tern”, but – necessa­ri­ly libe­ral, equa­li­ty and digni­ty based – to refer to the grand con­sen­sus past 45 and past 89 –. Demo­cra­cy that safe­guards this for each and ever­yo­ne via the rule of law and a sepa­ra­ti­on of powers, does allow for, and in fact need, the uni­ver­si­ty. Howe­ver, this does only app­ly to a uni­ver­si­ty that deser­ves the name. Regar­ding aca­de­mic free­dom and the uni­ver­si­ty, the­re is a simi­lar risk as the one that des­troy demo­cra­cy. Clear­ly, the­re are insti­tu­ti­ons that do not deser­ve the name. This is the case if a school offers bia­sed or even opp­res­si­ve trai­ning and indoc­tri­na­ti­on to selec­ted peers, rather than oppor­tu­nities to think and arti­cu­la­te opi­ni­ons. Yet other cases are much less clear. When uni­ver­si­ties beco­me sites of lies ins­tead of truth, of hate ins­tead of speech, of ideo­lo­gy ins­tead of explo­ra­ti­ve rese­arch and tea­ching, they beco­me sites of batt­le, or con­tro­ver­sy, yet they are not enga­ged in what defi­nes a uni­ver­si­ty as such. Name­ly, and rather pro­mi­nent in the U.S., but also in other coun­tries, the­re are spea­kers that claim a right to “aca­de­mic free­dom”, or a right to “free speech” in uni­ver­si­ties, in order to, by way of examp­le, call the Holo­caust a lie, or dis­cuss human races as fact, inher­ent­ly une­qual, or lec­tu­re on women as bein­gs natu­ral­ly infe­ri­or to men, via brain size, or cate­go­ri­ze sexu­al mino­ri­ties as sick freaks and aberra­ti­ons of natu­re, or pre­sent the belief in God´s crea­ti­on a sci­ence, and natu­ral sci­en­ces as crap. And to avoid misun­derstan­dings: All of this can be said and writ­ten and com­mu­ni­ca­ted by other peace­ful means as long as it does not harm someo­ne. Sin­ce whe­ther we like it or not: This is free speech. But it is not rese­arch, or sci­ence, inte­res­ted in truth. The­re­fo­re, if such lies and hate and ideo­lo­gy achie­ve to be defi­ned as rese­arch and tea­ching, to enjoy aca­de­mic free­dom and the pro­tec­tion of an auto­no­mous uni­ver­si­ty, it is, also, an abu­se of the very idea.10 Lies – or alter­na­ti­ve facts” – or hate or ideo­lo­gy is not just ano­t­her approach and topic and result of rese­arch, but it is lies and hate and ideo­lo­gy. It may and must be sub­ject to deba­te, but it is not rese­arch and tea­ching. Ins­tead, the­se are attempts to cap­tu­re the space of aca­de­mic free­dom, to in fact des­troy it. Note that the­se peop­le and orga­ni­sa­ti­ons act based on well fun­ded stra­te­gies, and are defen­ded by many more, and attempt to enlist all libe­rals in that defence, in the name of the human right to free speech, to howe­ver denoun­ce women and peop­le of color and other others, as well as cri­ti­cal ana­ly­sis. Based on the very con­cept of the uni­ver­si­ty as a site of edu­ca­ti­on, such attempts to rather des­troy the uni­ver­si­ty must be refu­t­ed. This is Wil­helm To under­stand what the uni­ver­si­ty is about, or should at least attempt to be, in an ever-las­ting pro­cess of try­ing, Wil­helm von Hum­boldt, and this a Ber­lin idea, is inspi­ring. In 1810, he con­cep­tua­li­zed the uni­ver­si­ty as the place of “Bil­dung” – a term that car­ri­es a mea­ning bey­ond its usu­al trans­la­ti­on as “hig­her edu­ca­ti­on”, sin­ce it is a spe­ci­fic type of it: a deve­lo­p­ment of mind and soul towards civic vir­tu­es via aca­de­mic encoun­ter. Famous­ly, he exp­lai­ned to the king “The­re are unde­nia­b­ly cer­tain kinds of know­ledge that must be of a gene­ral natu­re and, more import­ant­ly, a cer­tain cul­ti­va­ti­on of the mind and cha­rac­ter that nobo­dy can afford to be without.” But nota­b­ly, he saw this not only as eco­no­mi­c­al­ly pro­fi­ta­ble. To add ano­t­her Hum­boldt scho­l­ar: Edu­ca­tor and civil rights lea­der W.E.B. (for Wil­liam Edward Burg­hardt) DuBo­is sta­ted in 1902 that “the ide­als of edu­ca­ti­on, whe­ther men [sic] are taught to teach or plow, to wea­ve or to wri­te, must not be allo­wed to sink into sor­did uti­li­ta­ria­nism. Edu­ca­ti­on must keep broad ide­als befo­re it, and never for­get that it is dealing with Souls and not with Dol­lars.” Put this way, dealing with souls defi­nes a uni­ver­si­ty as very spe­ci­fic space. Now Wil­helm pro­mo­ted hig­her lear­ning as an asset of a demo­cra­tic socie­ty. Aca­de­mic free­dom of rese­arch and free­dom of study,11 in the com­mu­ni­ty of scho­l­ars and stu­dents, in an insti­tu­ti­on that enjoys cor­po­ra­te auto­no­my des­pi­te their being fun­ded by the state12 – to allow for, empower and invest in citi­zens. This is the link bet­ween demo­cra­cy and the uni­ver­si­ty, if both deser­ve the name. In that tra­di­ti­on, as the United Nati­ons phra­se it now, hig­her edu­ca­ti­on in which tea­ching is groun­ded in and part of rese­arch has “a vital role … in pro­mo­ting … demo­cra­cy”, bey­ond the prac­ti­cal, as a human right. Or, in the words of the orga­niz­a­ti­on of all sta­tes mar­ked as Euro­pean geo­gra­phi­cal­ly, the Coun­cil of Euro­pe, which runs a pro­ject on Edu­ca­ti­on for Demo­cra­tic Citi­zens 4 O RDNUNG DER WISSENSCHAFT 1 (2019), 1–6 13 Com­me­mo­ra­ti­on of 20 years, at edc/home/-/asset_publisher/MmQioA2qaHyO/content/twentyyears-of-promoting-education-for-democracy-and-humanrights?inheritRedirect=false. The Coun­cil deve­lo­ps a Refe­rence Frame­work of Com­pe­ten­ces for Demo­cra­tic Cul­tu­re, to sup­port schools with such efforts. The­re is a con­ti­nuous effort in the Coun­cil of Euro­pe to streng­t­hen such efforts, name­ly sin­ce 2002,including the Coun­cil of Euro­pe Char­ter on Edu­ca­ti­on for Demo­cra­tic Citi­zenship and Human Rights Edu­ca­ti­on from 2010. 15 Wil­helm von Hum­boldt belie­ved that a uni­ver­si­ty can and will achie­ve more (and also dif­fe­rent things) than can ever be plan­ned by the sta­te. This also app­lies to plans made by pre­si­dents and rec­tors, ‘pro­fes­sio­na­li­sed deanships’ and other exe­cu­ti­ve com­mit­tees: the­re is no such thing as orders, or tho­rough­ly plan­ned suc­cess. Howe­ver, the­re is good aca­de­mic gover­nan­ce. 16 They are neit­her new nor do they come from “the enemy”. sin­ce 1997, “chal­len­ges that Euro­pe is facing today – inclu­ding disen­chant­ment with demo­cra­cy, inte­gra­ti­on of refu­gees and the rise of vio­lent extre­mism – make edu­ca­ti­on for demo­cra­tic citi­zenship and human rights more important than ever”.13 We need to step up this work in the years to come. Inde­ed, the attacks them­sel­ves are a striking indi­ca­tor of why this is necessa­ry. Whe­re­ver auto­crats are out to des­troy a demo­cra­tic socie­ty, as a socie­ty that respects all pre­sent as equals, and limits majo­ri­ty power by fun­da­men­tal rights even­tual­ly pro­tec­ted by courts, they do attack spe­ci­fic insti­tu­ti­ons and par­ti­cu­lar peop­le first, name­ly: the media, courts, and the uni­ver­si­ty and scho­l­ars. As such, what illus­tra­tes the nexus bet­ween the uni­ver­si­ty and demo­cra­cy is the rela­ti­ons­hip bet­ween pres­su­re and thre­ats on aca­de­mics and cri­ti­cal thin­king and the pre­sence of non- or anti­de­mo­cra­tic for­ces in any socie­ty. The more demo­cra­cy is at risk, the less aca­de­mic free­dom. Scho­l­ars who oppo­se auto­cra­tic regimes and ideo­lo­gies do report that they were not tar­ge­ted for being some­whe­re at a time, but for being aca­de­mics whe­re cri­ti­cal thought is not wan­ted. And very often, thin­king women are not wan­ted at all. This has hap­pen­ed in Tur­key, and it also cha­rac­te­ri­ses the attacks on uni­ver­si­ties in Hun­ga­ry or Poland, spi­ced with anti­se­mi­tism and racism, with sexism and homo­pho­bia, and it is the back­ground of many more batt­les. So the­re is an inherent link bet­ween the uni­ver­si­ty and demo­cra­cy. Aca­de­mic free­dom and insti­tu­tio­nal auto­no­my are key, if pro­per­ly unders­tood, in Humboldt´s ver­si­on of edu­ca­ti­on, to a demo­cra­tic socie­ty. As such, the uni­ver­si­ty has a poli­ti­cal func­tion, as a fac­tor of demo­cra­cy. Against Radi­cal Misun­derstan­dings In this con­cept, and becau­se of the vast array of self­de­ter­mi­na­ti­on uni­ver­si­ties enjoy, aca­de­mic free­dom and uni­ver­si­ty auto­no­my come with an ethics. In fact, such an ethics informs how a uni­ver­si­ty deals with others, ran­ging from inter­na­tio­nal part­ners to hos­ted scho­l­ars at risk. As with all liber­ties, free­dom and uni­ver­si­ty auto­no­my shall not be con­fu­sed with the unli­mi­ted use of privilege.14 This is important becau­se the­re are not only attempts to abu­se the very idea of edu­ca­ti­on and aca­de­mic free­dom and the uni­ver­si­ty as such, but the­re are also what I would call radi­cal misun­derstan­dings, or mis­con­cep­ti­ons, of this free­dom as such.15 The­re is no unrestric­ted free­dom and no ent­i­re­ly unli­mi­ted liber­ty in any social set­ting. The­re­fo­re, free­dom bey­ond ego­centric auto­no­my, as a liber­ty that is social­ly embed­ded, in a world in which we fun­da­ment­al­ly accept each other, car­ri­es with it obli­ga­ti­ons. And whenever it comes to obli­ga­ti­ons that are atta­ched to free­dom, the­re is cer­tain­ly the ques­ti­on whe­ther such obli­ga­ti­ons are in fact a cover up for poli­ti­cal intru­si­on or opp­res­si­on or cen­sor­s­hip or any other ina­de­qua­te inter­ven­ti­on. But dif­fe­rent from the­se, the ethics of the uni­ver­si­ty I want to address are the very foun­da­ti­on aca­de­mic free­dom and the auto­no­my of the uni­ver­si­ty its­elf rest upon. Such ethi­cal obli­ga­ti­ons do not put know­ledge and under­stan­ding at risk. Rather, the­re is an ethics to aca­de­mic free­dom that is vital to take the risk away from the aca­de­my. Cer­tain­ly, this key­note also does not suf­fice to address all aspects of such an ethics. In the con­text of scho­l­ars at risk, it seems most important to address its inter­na­tio­nal dimen­si­on, thus cal­ling on the ethics of uni­ver­si­ties that are not at risk them­sel­ves but reach out to pla­ces whe­re scho­l­ars are, and that act as host uni­ver­si­ties and allow scho­l­ars at risk else­whe­re to stay. Thus, uni­ver­si­ty ethics have at least two sides, as inter­na­tio­nal insti­tu­ti­ons, reaching out via col­la­bo­ra­ti­on and coope­ra­ti­on, as well as invi­t­ing in, as recei­ving ones. Inde­ed, inter­na­tio­na­li­sa­ti­on of uni­ver­si­ties has most­ly been mana­ged as a set of out­re­ach efforts, sen­ding stu­dents and scho­l­ars abroad, col­la­bo­ra­ting and coope­ra­ting with others in this world. This is Alex­an­der, and it is inde­ed a won­der­ful idea to go tra­vel and go explo­re. Yet with Alex­an­der and with W.E.B. DuBo­is and so many others, it is also ent­i­re­ly clear that this can fail badly,16 up to a (neo-)colonial encoun­ter. The­re­fo­re, we need an ethics to avoid that and pro­per­ly address when it hap­pens. The­re are chal­len­ges on the way. In efforts to inter­na­tio­na­li­ze uni­ver­si­ties, con­flicts ari­se and have ari­sen when a uni­ver­si­ty con­tracts into part­ners­hip with an insti­tu­ti­on that dis­mis­ses scho­l­ars based on their poli­ti­cal Susan­ne Baer · A Ber­lin Call for Uni­ver­si­ty Ethics 5 17 I.e., Peter Scott wro­te about the “ugly side to inter­na­tio­na­li­sa­ti­on” in The Guar­di­an 06.06.2011. This term descri­bes “more (high­fee) inter­na­tio­nal stu­dents” as the cash cow pro­blem, “exo­tic part­ners­hips which ine­vi­ta­b­ly demand much tra­vel­ling by seni­or mana­gers“, or part­ners­hips that invol­ve the awar­ding of hono­ra­ry doc­to­ra­tes. It is the­re­fo­re pro­ble­ma­tic when the who­le situa­ti­on is refer­red to as a mar­ket, even though eco­no­mic aspects must be con­si­de­red. Fur­ther­mo­re, the­re is also the cri­ti­cism that inter­na­tio­na­li­sa­ti­on stra­te­gies are not­hing more than a super­fi­cial myth, fal­se label­ling or unsuc­cess­ful efforts. 18 At Yale, a pro­mi­nent cri­tic of coope­ra­ting with Sin­g­a­po­re was phi­lo­so­pher Sey­la Ben­ha­bib, blo­g/2011/05/18/­ben­ha­bib-why-i-oppo­se-yale-in-sin­g­a­po­re/. At NYU, simi­lar deba­tes focus on Abu Dha­bi, Zvi­ka Krie­ger, online at 19 For more, see Baer, Susan­ne, Unboun­ded aca­de­mic free­dom?, online at, see Fern­ge­sprae­che. Diplo­ma­cy has a long – and glo­bal – histo­ry. It is a tool in inter­na­tio­nal rela­ti­ons, not the ans­wer to the ques­ti­ons posed. It reli­es on peop­le who con­ver­se in a shared lan­guage, to enab­le links to other regi­ons of the world, to collect infor­ma­ti­on, to crea­te under­stan­ding. Diplo­ma­cy reli­es on ambassa­dors who are at ease with dif­fe­rent cul­tures, envi­ron­ments and lan­guages; curious and moti­va­ted, open and unsel­fi­sh, tack­ling com­mon cau­ses for the grea­ter good. and phi­lo­so­phi­cal views. Con­flicts also ari­se when a uni­ver­si­ty part­ners with insti­tu­ti­ons in poli­ti­cal con­texts in which the core civil and poli­ti­cal human rights are not protected.17 In addi­ti­on, con­flicts ari­se when coope­ra­ti­on is fun­ded by peop­le or enti­ties that per­sist­ent­ly vio­la­te human rights. So would you sign an agree­ment with an insti­tu­ti­on whe­re reli­gious free­dom and homo­se­xua­li­ty are denied or dis­cou­ra­ged – and what would you do if a stu­dent or scho­l­ar faces repres­si­on while working and stu­dy­ing the­re? And the­re are more ques­ti­ons: Who sets out the defi­ni­ti­on of edu­ca­ti­on, as well as aca­de­mic free­dom, abroad, and can an inter­na­tio­nal part­ner ‘cen­sor’ the cur­ri­cu­lum or rese­arch? When Chi­na funds insti­tu­tes abroad, and Wes­tern sta­tes fund insti­tu­tes in Chi­na – who runs them, and whe­re does cen­sor­s­hip start? More gene­ral­ly, inter­na­tio­nal coope­ra­ti­on alrea­dy always poses the ques­ti­on of whe­ther this is still a uni­ver­si­ty endea­vour that deser­ves its name. And when should you stand up and pro­test human rights to be infrin­ged? Note that the ‘bad guys’ like not­hing more than col­la­bo­ra­ting with the ‘good guys’, as it is an excel­lent way to res­to­re their tar­nis­hed repu­ta­ti­on, and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to wash their dir­ty laund­ry. By way of examp­le: a Ger­man part­ner tends to ensu­re that aca­de­mic free­dom appears spar­k­ling white. The­re­fo­re, Wes­tern uni­ver­si­ties, facul­ties and insti­tu­tes as well as indi­vi­du­al scho­l­ars are very much sought after, and bri­bed into coope­ra­ting with insti­tu­ti­ons that use rather than allow for, empower, and invest in sci­ence. Thus, reaching out to inter­na­tio­nal part­ners, in an gover­nan­ce mode of modest rea­lism, requi­res uni­ver­si­ties to be diplomatic.18 Diplo­ma­cy is, then, the out­re­ach side of uni­ver­si­ty ethics. Glo­ca­li­zing Uni­ver­si­ties Regar­ding the other dimen­si­on of an inter­na­tio­nal insti­tu­ti­on, the ethics of a uni­ver­si­ty must make it a real­ly good host. When reaching out across bor­ders must employ all skills deve­lo­ped in diplo­ma­cy, to avoid the gun­boats as long as pos­si­ble but take a stand when nee­ded, invi­t­ing in does also have an ethics to it. Inter­na­tio­na­li­sa­ti­on means glo­ca­li­sa­ti­on. Here comes Caro­li­ne. She adds diver­si­ty to the pic­tu­re. Wil­helm desi­gned the insti­tu­ti­on. Alex­an­der tra­vel­led the world, a cul­tu­ral diplo­mat. And Caro­li­ne is not only a woman among so many defi­ning men, she also invi­ted peop­le into her salons, to allow for, empower and invest in the fasci­na­ting diver­si­ty of approa­ches, under­stan­dings, views. Diver­si­ty. Now pau­se for a moment: what does it exact­ly mean again? If out­re­ach needs diplo­ma­cy, invi­t­ing peop­le in as a host needs gene­ro­si­ty, more than tole­ran­ce and respect for the other, but genui­ne curio­si­ty and appre­cia­ti­on. This asks of us to serious­ly enga­ge with the unfa­mi­li­ar – a key ingre­dient of science.19 If uni­ver­si­ties want to be true hosts at home, they must be wil­ling and able to inter­act with the other as an equal. Now this is not a ques­ti­on of prio­ri­ties and empha­sis and choice. It is also more than a neces­si­ty in today´s glo­bal eco­no­my of know­ledge. Rather, the com­mit­ment to glo­ba­li­sa­ti­on as glo­ca­li­sa­ti­on, in a diplo­ma­tic uni­ver­si­ty that is a true host, is a com­po­nent of aca­de­mic free­dom and uni­ver­si­ty auto­no­my that deser­ve the name. A Lit­mus Test and a Ber­lin Call for Uni­ver­si­ty Ethics That much said, the way uni­ver­si­ties tre­at scho­l­ars at risk is a “lit­mus test” to their very rai­son d´etre, and the test inde­ed app­lies to foun­da­ti­ons and other such insti­tu­ti­ons as well. In short, a key to an office and a libra­ry card will not do, nor will one lunch and a wee­kend invi­ta­ti­on. Rather, glo­ca­li­sa­ti­on in uni­ver­si­ties must trans­la­te into rese­arch and tea­ching. The more uni­ver­si­ties live up to the ide­al of the Hum­bold­ti­an uni­ver­si­ty, based on aca­de­mic free­dom and insti­tu­tio­nal auto­no­my, dri­ven not by money or ideo­lo­gy but by rese­arch, the more such insti­tu­ti­ons must host scho­l­ars from abroad as equals. Simi­lar to the sta­tus of poli­ti­cal­ly con­tro­ver­si­al aca­de­mic fiel­ds in uni­ver­si­ties that chal­len­ge an opp­res­si­ve sta­tus quo, like gen­der stu­dies or disa­bi­li­ty stu­dies, it is a lit­mus 6 O RDNUNG DER WISSENSCHAFT 1 (2019), 1–6 20 Net­tel­beck, Joa­chim, for­mer Secreta­ry of Wis­sen­schafts­kol­leg zu Ber­lin, FAZ 19.3.2013. 21 Gail­da Pit­re Davis, Diver­si­ty and Inter­na­tio­na­liz­a­ti­on: Col­la­bo­ra­ting, Not Just Co-Exis­ting, 2013 ( ti_diversity.pdf); C.L. Olson, R. Evans, R.F. Shoe­n­berg, At home in the world: Brid­ging the gap bet­ween inter­na­tio­na­liz­a­ti­on and mul­ti­cul­tu­ral edu­ca­ti­on, 2007. 22 Well put by the United Nati­ons Com­mit­tee on Eco­no­mic, Social and Cul­tu­ral Rights, in a docu­ment adop­ted in Decem­ber 1999. Its work is based on the Inter­na­tio­nal Covenant on Eco­no­mic, Social and Cul­tu­ral Rights, Adop­ted and ope­ned for signa­tu­re, rati­fi­ca­ti­on and acces­si­on by Gene­ral Assem­bly reso­lu­ti­on 2200A (XXI) of 16 Decem­ber 1966, ent­ry into for­ce 3 Janu­a­ry 1976, in accordance with arti­cle 27. test for uni­ver­si­ties to host such efforts, if it wants to live up to its insti­tu­tio­nal cal­ling. Thus, as much as a uni­ver­si­ty is based on a refi­ned under­stan­ding of its func­tion in and for demo­cra­cy, it allows for, empowers, and invests in scho­l­ars at risk. As a result, scho­l­ars at risk must enjoy more than a gra­cious ges­tu­re. Glo­cal­ly thin­king, their exper­ti­se must be tru­ly wel­co­me. For a start, one could con­si­der to sup­port rese­arch that reflects upon the very rea­sons for the risks, such as auto­cra­tic lega­lism, popu­lism, unfriend­ly take­overs of libe­ral insti­tu­ti­ons and terms, etc. Also, one must sys­te­ma­ti­cal­ly address the spe­ci­fic needs of legal sta­tus and pro­tec­tion for scho­l­ars that need to work abroad becau­se they are at risk at home. Then, every uni­ver­si­ty would pro­fit tre­men­dous­ly from tea­chings offe­red on rese­arch under pres­su­re, and ways to coun­ter it. Again, the ethics that inform aca­de­mic free­dom and uni­ver­si­ty auto­no­my must, and may inde­ed pro­fi­ta­b­ly, inform the university´s poli­ci­es. Inspi­red by all three Humboldt´s, but also thin­king at a place that went through dra­ma­tic chan­ges in the world´s histo­ry, this is then a Ber­lin call for uni­ver­si­ty and other such institution´s ethics. With Hum­boldt and human rights, this call is deeply roo­ted in Ber­lin as a city, as the for­mer geo­po­li­ti­cal front of the cold war whe­re the sym­bo­lic as well as real con­cre­te Wall that came down, in fact: was taken down, in 1989. The call is also very Ber­lin becau­se it is even more deeply ancho­red in a post-1945 con­sen­sus of “never again” to geno­ci­de, to anti­se­mi­tism, to racism, to fascism in all forms, which were inde­ed also plan­ned and exe­cu­t­ed and hai­led … in Ber­lin. And the call is so Ber­lin becau­se this appeal is indeb­ted to the con­cept of the uni­ver­si­ty as an auto­no­mous com­mu­ni­ty of scho­l­ars and stu­dents, free from sta­te intru­si­on – attri­bu­ta­ble to Wil­helm – , yet com­mit­ted to the Nomos, to world citi­zenship – Alex­an­der –, and lis­tening bey­ond pre­ju­di­ce – Caro­li­ne, all von Hum­boldt. The key pro­po­si­ti­on is to coun­ter the risk posed by attacks on demo­cra­cy, and on uni­ver­si­ties and aca­de­mic free­dom. Then, the call is for a nuan­ced diplo­ma­cy of a uni­ver­si­ty reaching out. Final­ly, the call is to, as one ele­ment of glo­ca­li­sa­ti­on, tru­ly wel­co­me and host scho­l­ars at risk, with more than a ben­evo­lent ges­tu­re. It is the uni­ver­si­ty that is desi­gned to be, and must stri­ve to stay the space for a cos­mo­po­li­tan “edu­ca­ti­on” via exchan­ge among equals – which adds, again, Alex­an­der and Caro­li­ne to Wil­helm von Hum­boldt. The uni­ver­si­ty then must be an inclu­si­ve space – diverse.20 In the words of the United Nati­ons Com­mit­tee on such human rights, this allows an “enligh­te­ned and acti­ve mind … to wan­der free­ly and wide­ly”, as “one of the joys and rewards of human existence”.21 This com­mit­ment to safe­guard edu­ca­ti­on and aca­de­mic free­dom jus­ti­fies uni­ver­si­ty auto­no­my; the way a uni­ver­si­ty deals with scho­l­ars at risk is a lit­mus test of its prac­ti­ce, and its abi­li­ty to con­tri­bu­te to demo­cra­cy at all. I encou­ra­ge all of you to work for it. Susan­ne Baer is Pro­fes­sor of Public Law and Gen­der Stu­dies, for­mer Vice-Pre­si­dent of Stu­dent and Inter­na­tio­nal Affairs at Hum­boldt-Uni­ver­si­tät zu Ber­lin and cur­r­ent­ly Jus­ti­ce of the Ger­man Federal Con­sti­tu­tio­nal Court (First Sena­te, sin­ce 2011 until 2023).