New Cooperation with Poland

November 10, 2011

100 scientists attend 4th German-Polish colloquium “Science and Art in Europe” / Plans in hand to broaden the event to include other countries

From the Wendelstein 7-X nuclear fusion project in Greifwald to a study of the social behaviour of mammals in the Białowieża National Park: cooperation between German and Polish scientists is extensive, and securely founded on common factors. For proof, one need look no further than the fourth German-Polish colloquium on “Science and Art in Europe”, held at the European Academy of Otzenhausen at the end of October and attended by 100 scientists from both countries. Guests from the political world included Poland’s ambassador to Germany, Marek Prawda, and the French Consul General Philippe Cerf.

The topics at these meetings traditionally cover a broad spectrum, with sociologists, political musicologists and biodiversity researchers, as well as material scientists and physicists discussing their work in subject-specific symposia held over the four days of the conference. All of the participants then joined together in plenary sessions to consider joint perspectives that went beyond individual disciplines.  “Cooperation in individual fields is important. However, the significance of the conference cannot be expressed solely in terms of specific projects,” says Klaus Hahlbrock, former Vice President of the Max Planck Society and co-organiser of the meeting.  More important still is that, given the dramatic events of the past 200 years, Poles and Germans should cast their minds back to their far older shared history. In the age of European integration it is time to talk more with one another, form partnerships and establish permanent ties founded on joint research. “With this now being the fourth in this series of colloquia, we have already achieved a great deal,” continues Klaus Hahlbrock, who was instrumental in establishing the event ten years ago.

The fact that Klaus Hahlbrock and his fellow conference organizer Arno Krause, founder of the European Academy of Otzenhausen, together with Polish partners headed by Maciej Zylicz, President of the Foundation for Polish Science (FNP), also include music and the visual arts in their programme further supports the goal of making connections. “Art brings people together irrespective of national borders, in that it is not limited to a single language, and harmony is an essential pre-requisite,” says Klaus Hahlbrock. Art also has the potential to open the conference to a wider audience. Consequently, in addition to the opening of an art exhibition, the programme also included chamber music by composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johannes Brahms and Karol Szymanowski, performed by musicians from both countries.

The first “Science and Art in Europe” event took place successively in Warsaw, Krakow and Poznań; the second series was held in 2005 in Berlin, Jena and Dresden. In 2010 Warsaw was again chosen as the location, with the event organized this time by Polish partners. The fourth colloquium now marks an end for 76 year-old Klaus Hahlbrock and the Max Planck Society, as the baton passes to new organisers. “The foundation is laid. Now it is up to the next generation to continue the work.” The decision to hold the event at the European Academy of Otzenhausen also gives an indication of future directions. This location in the Saarland has, for decades, been a venue for Franco-German cooperation. With the networks binding Germany and Poland now firmly established, “Science and Art in Europe” can look to integrate further countries. Clearly, France can play a central role.                                                                                         JE

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