Network Meeting of Heidelberg University for Research Alumni from South Asia

Press Release No. 65/2012
16 March 2012
HAI alumni initiative organises event programme in New Delhi (India)

As part of the new Research Alumni project, Heidelberg Alumni International (HAI), Ruperto Carola’s central alumni initiative, is holding a network meeting for researchers from South Asia who were once visiting scientists and scholars at Heidelberg University. It will take place on March 23 and 24, 2012 in New Delhi. A six-person delegation from Heidelberg led by University Rector Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel will be travelling to India for the occasion. The two-day event will be followed by another alumni meeting on March 25. In cooperation with HAI, the Heidelberg Center South Asia (HCSA), founded in 2009, has invited former students, employees, and researchers of Ruperto Carola from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. An “Anniversary Conference” follows to celebrate the founding of the South Asia Institute (SAI) of Heidelberg University 50 years ago with a branch office in New Delhi.

The Research Alumni Project, a concept for active and sustained cooperation with former visiting scholars and scientists from abroad, earned Heidelberg University a place among the winners of an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation competition in 2011. The goal of the best-practice model honoured is to strengthen the ties between Ruperto Carola and international academics who were visiting researchers in Heidelberg and thus tie them into the university’s internationalisation strategy. The event, with approx. 25 researchers from India in attendance, begins with the Rector’s reception at the Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan in New Delhi. It is the first of three international network meetings of former visiting scholars and scientists of Heidelberg University. The plan is to introduce the Research Alumni Project as well as explore the opportunities it can offer to the South Asian region. HAI Director Silke Rodenberg is in charge of the Research Alumni Project.

The subsequent alumni meeting of former students, staff and researchers of Heidelberg University will host approx. 70 guests from various South Asian countries at the Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan. Following welcoming addresses from Heidelberg University Rector Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel, Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels of the South Asia Institute and a representative of the German Embassy New Delhi, participants will share ideas on future alumni work and fostering the transnational network. The objective is to establish an alumni club for India which will be advised by HAI and will work closely together with the university’s Heidelberg Center South Asia. The alumni meeting programme also includes excursions as well as a Heidelberg lecture with geographer Prof. Dr. Peter Meusburger.

The focus of the anniversary conference being held at the South Asia Institute from March 26-28 is “India’s Cities”. Researchers from the SAI as well as the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” of Heidelberg University will confer with Indian experts on current issues of urban research. Attendees of the network meeting of Research Alumni Heidelberg and the alumni meeting are also invited to join the conference at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). The anniversary conference is being jointly organised with the JNU and supported by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research as well as the German Research Foundation.

The South Asia Institute founded 50 years ago was conceived as an interdisciplinary centre for research and teaching. It currently has seven professorships in the fields of development economics, anthropology, geography, history, cultural and religious history of South Asia (classical Indology), modern South Asian languages and literatures and political science. The SAI thus ties together the social and economic sciences as well as geography with the cultural sciences embracing history and philology. In addition to the branch office in New Delhi another office was set up in Kathmandu (Nepal). Intensive scientific exchanges also exist with Pakistan and Sri Lanka – the SAI had branch offices in both countries over a long time – and more recently Bangladesh became the focus of increasing research activities.

The anniversary events bear the motto “The South Asia Institute: 50 Years of Looking Ahead”. Most of the celebrations will take place in the summer semester of 2012. The programme in Heidelberg includes a week of festivities in May as well as a series of lectures.

Further information is available on the Internet at


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