Universities for openness, tolerance and against xenophobia

Image: HRK
Image: HRK

“Cosmopolitanism and curiosity about all things new form the fundamental values of every university,” emphasised FAU President Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger in July 2015. With this in mind, FAU is taking part in the initiative “Universities for openness, tolerance and against xenophobia” of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK). As an institution operating under Germany’s constitutional democracy and upholding the academic traditions of free speech and religious freedom, FAU firmly distances itself from all extremist efforts to undermine these fundamental liberties, explains Hornegger.

The member universities of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) are set to oppose xenophobia in Germany as part of a nationwide initiative. The HRK members are committing to their stance with the slogan “Universities for openness, tolerance and against xenophobia”. They are reacting to the incidents of racist verbal and physical attacks that have occurred over the past few weeks and months.

Universities are open-minded places. Diverse opinions and international exchange constitute the foundations of their research and teaching activities. In light of the increasing xenophobic tendencies that can be seen at the moment, universities are actively advocating this plurality of opinions and exchange.

On 10/11/2015, HRK President Prof. Dr. Horst Hippler appealed to the HRK General Meeting in Kiel to support the initiative. Despite the fact that university towns and cities are affected by the issue to varying degrees, the universities agreed to show their support for the initiative. They want to show solidarity against xenophobia and racism and use the initiative to highlight this attitude under a common logo.

The General Meeting emphasised its concern, yet also expressed its willingness to take action at universities. University leaders want to encourage members of universities to stand up to xenophobia and act accordingly in a regional context.

The German higher education system has close ties with other national higher education systems.

Universities as “future workshops” of the world are transnational in and of themselves. A university can only be sustainable if it acts and thinks at international level. The HRK clearly stated this in its international strategy. An open and international campus and the international mobility of teachers and students therefore provide the essential foundations for high-quality teaching, learning and research.

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