April 10, 2017
Dear Professor Ignatieff,
It is with great concern that we at Jacobs University observe the political debate surrounding your university. I would like to express our deep feelings of solidarity and sympathy. In an interview with the German weekly magazine “Die Zeit”, this week, you summed it up perfectly: “What is being attempted here is an attack on academic freedom.” And especially for this reason, we at Jacobs University stand with you.
The history of your university is intimately connected with the movement of post-soviet societies into democracy. That makes it all the more important to ensure that the achievements of democracy are not now endangered by a political climate marked by nationalism and the pressure to conform. I am convinced: The attitude of a government toward freedom can be seen in no small part in the way it deals with us academics and our institutions.
Dear Professor Ignatieff, your university and ours stand for a different model of society from that which nationalists in many countries around the world are trying to propagate. We know that people from different countries can live together peacefully, because we experience it each and every day at our internationally-oriented universities. We know that the pressing issues of our time cannot be solved through populistic simplifications. Instead, we require knowledge from different cultures and academic disciplines to find workable solutions to the challenges of a globalized and digitalized world.
In addition, your university and ours stand for the model of privately financed education. And this model is still unfamiliar to many people in Europe. That makes the path taken by our still young universities unusual and often challenging – even without political repression. And it is obvious that private universities, thanks to their individual educational concepts, short decision-making paths, and flexible structures, can enormously enrich the public discourse. Particularly in light of current Hungarian policies, places of openness to the world such as your university are needed.
All the more reason that we sympathize with your university in such a difficult time. Please let us know, if we can be of help to you – beyond this declaration of solidarity – as you struggle to maintain your university. We wish you the strength to persevere, and we are with you, your colleagues, and your students in thought and spirit.
In deep solidarity,
Prof. Arvid Kappas
Dean of Jacobs University