Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

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Alexander von Humboldt Foundation


Purpose: Scientific exchange
Chair: Hans-Christian Pape
Consist: since 1953
Seat: Bonn - Bad Godesberg

no founder specified

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH, in its own spelling Alexander von Humboldt Foundation ) is a non-profit foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany to promote international cooperation in research . It promotes scientific cooperation between foreign and German researchers and supports the resulting scientific and cultural connections. In 2015, the budget comprised expenditure of over 100 million euros.

Head office of the foundation (aerial photo 2014)


The first foundation named after Alexander von Humboldt , the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for Nature Research and Travel , was established in Berlin soon after the natural scientist's death in 1860 . The initiative came from Gustav Magnus , who also ensured the financing. Alexander Mendelssohn was the treasurer . The foundation was assigned to the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin , supported research trips by German scientists abroad, but lost its capital in the inflation of the early 1920s .

The foundation was re-established in 1925 at the instigation of the Federal Foreign Office and from then on supported foreign scientists and doctoral students during their studies in Germany. With the collapse of the German Reich, it had to stop its activities again in 1945.

At the suggestion of former Humboldt visiting scholars, today's Alexander von Humboldt Foundation was established by the Federal Republic of Germany on December 10, 1953. Since then, the foundation has funded over 28,000 scientists from around 140 countries, including 55 Nobel Prize winners. She looks after foreign, mostly young, guest scientists from all disciplines during their research stays in Germany and is supported by the Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research , the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development , the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety as well as other national and international partners. Particular attention is paid to promoting contacts between former scholarship holders and German scientists. The work of the foundation creates an active network of scientists all over the world.

The foundation is a member of the Alliance of German Science Organizations, an informal association of German science organizations. The Berlin office is located in the WissenschaftsForum Berlin .

Mission statement

The foundation has a mission statement that is published in the foundation's annual report. The mission statement emphasizes, for example, that people and not projects are funded, there are no quotas, and that the fellows and award winners can freely choose their research topics and cooperation partners. It reads in excerpts:

“The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation promotes top performance in research: the most important selection criterion is evidence of high individual qualifications. [...]

The Humboldt Foundation supports people: Even today, progress in science depends on the qualifications and, above all, the pioneering spirit of individual personalities. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation therefore supports people and not projects. [...]

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation promotes creativity through independence and freedom of movement: those sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation are free to choose their research topics, their academic hosts and their academic approach.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation supports a (scientific) life: With a wide range of funding instruments, it enables Humboldtians to maintain contact with Germany and cooperation with their specialist colleagues after they return to their home country.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is neutral: Recipients are selected regardless of religion, ethnic and social origin, national affiliation or gender. The foundation is free from ideological or commercially defined guidelines. [...] "


The foundation is based in Bonn - Bad Godesberg . The main office comprises a building complex consisting of a listed villa from 1905 (Jean-Paul-Straße 12) and an office building with offices, a representative room and apartments (Mirbachstraße 3–5) that was built in 1975-76 as an extension for the foundation. In 1965/66, the foundation had a guest house (Herderstrasse 57) built in Bad Godesberg based on a design by Erich Schneider-Wessling , which is now a listed building.

“The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has earned lasting merit in two places in the Godesberg villa area with buildings of the highest artistic rank. (...) Next to the office building, the foundation's guest house, which has received praise from all sides, stands out. (...) The building appears light and weightless; Permeability and transparency, openness and communication - these are the guiding formulas and laws to which the architectural design of the guest house is committed. "

Scholarships and prizes awarded

Since 1953, the foundation has awarded postdocs the Humboldt Research Fellowship for visiting scholars in Germany and, since 1979, the Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship for visiting scholars from Germany with a member of the Humboldt Network abroad. Between 1953 and 2018, a total of over 25,000 Humboldt fellowships and almost 4,000 Feodor Lynen fellowships were awarded.

The Humboldt Foundation awards the Humboldt Research Prize to distinguished foreign academics. The Sofja Kovalevskaja Prize has been awarded since 2002 . The foundation has also been awarding the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship since 2008 , with 3.5 and 5 million euros respectively, the most highly endowed research award in Germany. Other prizes include the Anneliese Maier Research Prize for humanities and social scientists from abroad, and the Georg Forster Research Prize for scientists from all disciplines from emerging and developing countries. In addition, the Humboldt Foundation, together with the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, has awarded the Gay Lussac Humboldt Prize annually to French scientists since 1982 and together with the Max Planck Society (MPG) awarded the Max Planck Research Prize until 2016 . This was replaced in 2018 by the Max Planck Humboldt Research Prize, which is awarded annually to a researcher from abroad together with the MPG .

Welcoming culture

The foundation's commitment to a welcoming culture began in 2003 with the “Prize for the friendliest immigration authority”: Foreign academics should feel well received in Germany. Further initiatives to strengthen the research location caught on in Germany in the following years, including the “Welcome Centers for Internationally Mobile Researchers” competition, an ideas competition for cosmopolitan universities, which was launched for the first time in 2006. Nationwide, the Welcome Centers created excellent service offers for internationally mobile guest researchers.

The Philipp Schwartz Initiative started in 2015. With the program for endangered researchers, the foundation supports scientists who seek protection in Germany because they are threatened with war or persecution in their home countries. The program is named after Philipp Schwartz , who in 1933 founded the “ Emergency Association of German Scientists Abroad ”.

President since 1953

General Secretaries

Well-known award winners and scholarship holders of the foundation


The foundation has been publishing the journal Humboldt-Kosmos: Research, Diplomacy, Internationality since 2001 . The predecessors of this journal were the communications of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation , which have been published since 1966.


  • Christian Jansen: Excellence worldwide: the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation between science funding and foreign cultural policy; (1953 - 2003) , with collabor. by Christoph Nensa, Cologne: DuMont-Literatur-und-Kunst-Verlag 2004, ISBN 978-3-8321-7423-1 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Alexander von Humboldt Foundation - President . Website of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  2. NN: Annual Report 2015 (PDF). 2016, accessed June 28, 2018 .
  3. August Wilhelm von Hofmann: Heinrich Gustav Magnus in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, published by the Historical Commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, Volume 20 (1884), pp. 77-90
  4. history . Website of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  5. ^ Humboldt Network. In: Website of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Retrieved November 15, 2017 .
  6. Partners, sponsors and finances. In: Website of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Retrieved November 15, 2017 .
  7. see 2016 Annual Report of the Humboldt Foundation, PDF, download, accessed on November 15, 2017
  8. ^ Ingeborg Flagge: Architecture in Bonn after 1945: Buildings in the federal capital and its surroundings . Verlag Ludwig Röhrscheid, Bonn 1984, ISBN 3-7928-0479-4 , pp. 94, 114.
  9. ^ Andreas Denk , Ingeborg Flagge : Architekturführer Bonn . Dietrich Reimer Verlag, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-496-01150-5 , p. 123.
  10. Ursel and Jürgen Zänker: Building in Bonn room 49-69. Attempt to take stock . In: Landschaftsverband Rheinland (Hrsg.): Art and antiquity on the Rhine . Guide to the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn . No. 21 . Rheinland-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1969, p. 83-85 .
  11. ^ Frank-Lothar Kroll: Federal capital Bonn. A Danaer present? In: Federal Ministry for Building, Regional Planning and Urban Development (Ed.): Forty Years Federal Capital Bonn 1949–1989 . CF Müller, Karlsruhe 1989, ISBN 3-7880-9780-9 , pp. 92-115 (here: p. 112).
  12. Chronology. Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, accessed on February 5, 2020 .
  13. Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdocs. Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, accessed on February 5, 2020 .
  14. Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship. Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, accessed on February 5, 2020 .
  15. Scholarships and prizes awarded from 1953 to 2018. Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, accessed on February 5, 2020 .
  16. All programs from A to Z. In: Website of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Retrieved November 15, 2017 .
  17. Max Planck Humboldt Research Prize. Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, accessed on February 5, 2020 .
  18. ^ Obituary by Ruth Ziervogel-Tamm. Website of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Retrieved on August 3, 2015.
  19. Heinrich Pfeiffer in the Munzinger archive (beginning of the article freely available),
  20. a b Nobel Prize in Economics to two Humboldtians . Website of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  21. see norm data of the journal in the German National Library at
  22. see standard data at

Coordinates: 50 ° 41 ′ 15.4 "  N , 7 ° 9 ′ 55.8"  E