President of the Max Planck Society talks science policy in San Francisco
Enlarge image (© germany.info) San Francisco. En route from Vancouver, where he inaugurated one of the new Max Planck Centers in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, he stopped in San Francisco to talk about current trends and challenges in German science policy.
On February 21 the President of the Max Planck Society, Peter Gruss, was guest of honor at a reception held at the German Residence in
85 German scientists who are currently conducting research at the Bay Area’s world-famous research universities joined him and contributed to a lively discussion. The majority of German scientists come to the US for a postdoctoral research stay, many of them on scholarships from German funding agencies. About 25 of the evening’s guests had made the Bay Area their permanent home joining faculty at UC Berkeley, Davis, Merced, San Francisco or Stanford.
Enlarge image (© germany.info) What does it take to create a world-renowned research university? Peter Gruss’s answer was simple: You need an average yearly budget of at least US$ 1.5 billion and complete autonomy. The Max Planck Society with its 82 institutes and a 2011 budget of approximately US$ 2 billion is a powerful demonstration of this recipe. If you compare the absolute number of particularly influential scientific publications (top 1%) in the last decade, the Max Planck Society comes in second only to Harvard University, surpassing Stanford and Berkeley in third and fourth place.
More challenging to answer is whether having an elite cadre of universities is more advantageous to secure the future success of a country than having a solid world-renowned average education of its college graduates – regardless from which university they earned their degree. In 2005 the German government started the so-called Excellence Inititative, having decided that the German system could use more competition. In the first round of this competition nine German universities successfully applied for the title “excellent” and substantial surplus funding. However, they have to defend their position in a second round which is currently in the final selection process. The German government is going to support the winners with US$ 3.5 billions from 2012 to 2017.
Enlarge image (© germany.info) The event at the German Consulate General was co-organized with the German Academic International Network (GAIN) If you are interested to join GAIN, please follow the link