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Science is international

Wednesday, 08. February 2017

Statement by the TU Berlin concerning the U.S. Presidential Executive Order of 27 January 2017 and its consequences for academic work

In its meeting on 8 February 2017, the Academic Senate of the TU Berlin addressed the executive order signed on 27 January 2017 by the U.S. President temporarily barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The Academic Senate decided to expressly endorse the joint statement "Science is international" of the German Rectors' Conference (HRK) and eight other academic institutions released on 3 February 2017. The members of the Academic Senate are opposed to measures that hinder researchers and students from participating in international exchanges.

In addition, the members of the Academic Senate released the following statement:

The TU Berlin is international in character and participates in academic discourses that cut across national borders. Given its transnational cooperation activities in research and teaching, its above-average proportion of students from abroad (20 percent), the 130 nationalities represented on its campus and its program for refugees who are interested in studying at the university, its cross-border orientation is an indispensable dimension of the TU Berlin. The opportunity for academic staff and students to exchange ideas in person with their counterparts abroad provides an important impetus for research and teaching. The executive order endangers TU Berlin's core academic values.  

The TU Berlin supports those at universities in the United States who are protesting the executive order and calling on the U. S. President to rescind it immediately.

Common statement by German Rectors´ Conference (HRK), Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Deutscher Forschungsgemeinschaft, German Academic Exchange Service, German Council of Science and Humanities, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Leibniz Association, Max Planck Society

Science is international
The generation of scientific insights is contingent upon discourse that is forthright, unfettered and international. It hinges on the interdisciplinary personal exchange between academic disciplines, nations and cultures. The executive order signed by the President of the United States this past Friday is a sweeping discrimination of human beings based on their ethnicity and consequently also an act of aggression against the fundamental values of science. Hence, German Scientific Organizations are extremely concerned about the President’s executive order. It is not a justified tool to use in the necessary fight against terrorism and will gravely impair the international exchange that is of such critical importance for scientific collaboration.   

Albeit the implementation details of the immigration ban into the United States, which applies to citizens of Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria remain ambiguous, some of the initial consequences are already evident in the field of science: Numerous scientists on global assignments were not granted entry into the United States. As a result, they have been barred from attending scientific conventions, symposiums and seminars. At this point and until further notice, American scientific institutions feel compelled to impose a travel freeze for their students and researchers for their own protection. 

Reliability and dependable planning/scheduling options of its social contexts are indispensable factors for international science and research. Currently, the consequences of this move towards isolationist policies are not yet foreseeable; however, they will definitely be vast and extend well beyond the United States as a nation of science. Especially in times of international crises, science is a valuable link between nations, which must be protected with great urgency. Consequently, the German Scientific Organizations call upon the U.S. government to immediately repeal the immigration ban. The organizations will of course support the scientists affected by the executive order who work for them as well as their cooperative partners in America. The organizations are pushing for an expeditious clarification of the executive order’s legal implications and will be at the disposal of the German and American contacts to discuss the matter as part of the transatlantic dialog.


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