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20 December 1999

Krupp Foundation Donates 1.5 Million Marks for Extension of the University of Heidelberg's Department of Chinese Studies

Support for the ongoing development of a Sinological resource centre with research capacities – Sinologist Prof. Rudolf G. Wagner highly gratified

In the last 7 years Heidelberg University's Department of Chinese Studies has progressed from one of the smallest institutes of its kind in Germany to the status of a European front-runner. This development has now received an additional shot in the arm. The Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation (Essen) has donated 1.5 million marks to further the "development of a Sinological resource centre in Heidelberg with research capacities". On hearing the news, Sinologist Prof. Rudolf G. Wagner said he was "overjoyed" and spoke of a "stimulating challenge".

In terms of such things as international academic presence, library holdings (e.g. specialist journals, scholarly monographs, Chinese films), electronic databases and digitalised catalogues, the Heidelberg Department of Chinese Studies can hold its own with the best of its American counterparts. It can safely be said to be the only department of its kind in Germany to provide favourable conditions for a genuinely broad range of advanced research on China.

The Department has also been at pains to make its resources as widely available as possible at the German and European level, providing special training opportunities to enhance the skills needed for online use of its databases. In this it has been supported by the University of Heidelberg, the Higher Education Ministry in Stuttgart and also by the fact that Prof. Wagner used almost the entire research money from the Leibniz Prize (Germany's highest scholarly distinction) awarded to him in 1993 to improve the Department's research collection.
With a view to sustaining this gratifying development toward making research on China in Germany and Europe competitive with the work being done in the United States, Prof. Wagner made an application in February 1999 to the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation for support funding to the tune of 1.5 million marks over a period of 5 years "to assure the further development of a Sinological resource centre with research capacities in Heidelberg". In mid-December the Chairman of the Foundation, Bertold Beitz, notified Prof. Wagner that his application had been approved by the curators.

A further step toward the age of digital research

One of the central aims in the immediate future will be the build-up of a European Centre for Digital Resources in Chinese Studies. The main task will be to provide European Chinese Studies departments with help in crossing the threshold to the era of research using digital resources. Another main objective is to amplify the digital resources themselves (in the form of online databases and CD-ROMs and their integration into advanced search routines) and also to set up access to the databases of, say, newspapers and archives elsewhere. Additionally, the research collection (print and other media) is to be expanded to a level comparable with that of leading Chinese Studies institutes in the rest of the world.

Prof. Wagner sees the funding from the Krupp Foundation as a "successful breakaway from the increasingly restricted sources of state finance" and expressed his gratification that a private foundation should have shown its willingness to support the efforts being made by a humanities department. Wagner also perceives the support as a "challenge to improve the quality of conditions for research on China in Germany and Europe with a view to achieving an enhancement of standards and a swift animation of the work being done in this field." Given China's increasing importance in the world, this aim, he said, is of major political, economic and cultural significance.

Please address any inquiries to
Prof. Dr. Rudolf G. Wagner
Department of Chinese Studies, University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/547640 or 547765

or: Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

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