HCIAS Blogcast: Ulrike Albrecht on academic collaboration across borders
Welcome back to the HCIAS Blogcast! This is a series of posts on the HCIAS blog, we summarize some of the key points from our most recent podcast episode. This week, we bring you a conversation between Dr. Ulrike Albrecht a Consultant for Global Research Cooperation and Internationalization Strategies based in Mainz and Dr. Héctor Álvarez Mella the HCIAS publications editor.
Dr. Albrecht begins the episode by giving the audience some insight into what her role as a consultant entails. Internationalization is a central focus, and while this is something many universities talk about, she emphasizes the importance of moving beyond mere rhetoric. Instead, Dr. Albrecht advocates for establishing the fundamental infrastructure necessary for international collaboration, such as English-speaking administration and dedicated Welcome Centers for international students.
While science and many disciplines in the humanities have always been international in some respects, the present moment has raised many new questions, including how best to include a wider range of nations in the international dialogue as equals. One area where there is particular challenge is in the so-called “forgotten nations” in Latin America. Dr. Albrecht observes a gap between Western countries, Asian economies, and Latin America in terms of international academic collaboration. She acknowledges the relatively low number of Latin American students coming to Germany and recommends the development of special instruments to attract visiting researchers from Latin America. By fostering stronger connections and linkages between nations, academia can ensure that the valuable perspectives of scholars from the region are not overlooked.
Despite the controversy surrounding globalization, Dr. Albrecht emphasizes its positive impact on international collaboration. She contends that science and humanities serve as a common language among researchers, transcending national boundaries. By working across borders, academics can leverage shared knowledge and experiences, contributing to a global community of scholars. Throughout the conversation, Dr. Albrecht emphasizes the significance of personal connections for successful international collaboration. These individual-level interactions prove invaluable, especially in situations where official cooperation faces obstacles, such as wars or sanctions. By nurturing personal relationships, researchers can bridge gaps and overcome challenges, facilitating the continuity of collaboration even during turbulent times.
Dr. Albrecht identifies the availability of financial resources and strategic instruments as major hurdles to international cooperation. With global issues like climate change requiring collective efforts, no single entity can tackle them alone. Consequently, the need for funding programs and initiatives that support cross-border collaboration becomes paramount. By investing in these areas, nations and institutions can make significant strides towards addressing global challenges. This kind of investment is particularly necessary in the German context, where demographic issues necessitate attracting talent from abroad. By engaging in international cooperation, institutions can tap into a diverse pool of expertise, enriching their research endeavors.
Dr. Albrecht suggests that Germany is still exploring its role on the global stage. While German scientific institutions excel in various research fields, such as climate change, Germany has yet to fully embrace its potential as a leader and agenda-setter in these domains. She emphasizes the importance of Germany adopting a positive self-confidence, urging the nation to proactively contribute to shaping the future of academia through its research initiatives and collaborations.
This HCIAS Blogcast has been just a short recap of a wide-ranging and thought-provoking discussion. If you would like to learn more about our guest and her work, you can listen to the whole episode here.