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Science needs liberal democracy and the rule of law

Statement by the Executive Board of the German Rectors' Conference (HRK)

Against the backdrop of increasingly blatant anti-democratic efforts and the associated contempt for humanity, we emphasize clearly and unambiguously that liberal democracy and the rule of law are the immovable pillars of our country and its institutions. They are also essential prerequisites for the existence of a competitive and internationally compatible German higher education system.

The comprehensive legal protection of academic freedom, as provided for in our Basic Law, is the basis for the success of our academia. Academics must be able to freely choose and work on research topics. Research and teaching must not be instrumentalized for political purposes. Only in this way can science develop its full potential for the economy and society.

The legal protection against discrimination in any form enshrined in the German Basic Law is also a pillar of our scientific performance. The diversity of international perspectives and backgrounds makes our science strong and contributes significantly to its progress. We are proud of and expressly support the fact that people from all over the world and from the most diverse backgrounds study and work at our universities. The member universities of the HRK have declared and affirmed this many times in their long-standing campaign "Weltoffene Hochschulen": Only a university that thinks and acts internationally is fit for the future and competitive. An open and international campus and the international mobility of teaching staff and students are essential foundations for high-quality teaching, learning and research.

The increasing tendency in the public and political sphere to change the content and tone of social discourse in order to normalize hostility towards science, restrictions on academic freedom, racism, intolerance and ideas and enemy stereotypes based on exclusion, to disintegrate cohesion in society and to undermine trust in liberal democracy is highly alarming. As the HRK Executive Board, we clearly oppose this. Every single member of our universities is called upon to stand up for the fundamental values of our constitution.

Stefanie Schulte-Austum
German Rectors' Conference