Ottmar Ette, director of the Humboldt Center for Transdisciplinary Studies, attended a global conference to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the opening of Alexander von Humboldt House Museum
On October 29, 2021 (Beijing time), a global conference to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the opening of Alexander von Humboldt House Museum was held in Havana, Cuba.
Humboltians from Cuba, Germany, Spain and other countries and political leaders including the German ambassador to Cuba and Cuban ambassador to Germany attended the conference. Among them, Ottmar Ette, director of the Humboldt Center for Transdisciplinary Studies, member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, member of the Academia Europaea and professor of Romance languages and Comparative literature at University of Potsdam and Ren Haiyan, vice director of the Center, editorial director of the periodical Foreign Languages and Cultures and associate professor at the Foreign Studies College of Hunan Normal University (HNNU) delivered their speeches at the conference. Professor Ren is the only Chinese attendee.
Alexander von Humboldt (September 14, 1769 – May 6, 1859) was the younger brother of Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767 – 1835), a famous German educationist. Alexander von Humboldt’s accomplishments in various disciplines including geography, meteorology and botany have greatly promoted the development of modern natural science and inspired later scholars with research methods transdisciplinary in nature.
Some scholars in HNNU were sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation which was set up in memory of the great scholar. In the trend of transdisciplinary studies, the international academic community gradually focuses on Humboldtian studies, while China’s research in this field is still in its early days.
The presence of Professor Ren has drawn the attention of Humboldtians worldwide since the announcement of the news. Her report given through a recorded video marks the debut of Chinese scholar in such events and that Humboldtian studies have shattered the old academic barriers to China.
As the first Alexander von Humboldt research institute in China, the Humboldt Center for Transdisciplinary Studies is aimed to promote relevant domestic research and transdisciplinary studies in literature and sociology, culture and geography, history and linguistics, and to blaze a new trail to connect China to the academic world. Since the beginning of its preparation, the Center, along with the periodical Foreign Languages and Cultures, has invited scholars from Germany, the United States and other countries to submit their articles, and devoted two special columns to Humboldtian studies, which are highly regarded.
Prior to those endeavors, the international Humboldtian community had had some contact with China’s Humboldtian studies. As early as 2019, at the ceremony to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birthday of Humboldt, Professor Ottmar introduced to the academic world the periodical Foreign Languages and Culture published by HNNU and its two Humboldtian studies special columns respectively in no. 3, 2021 and no. 3, 2019, and they were highly anticipated by the participants.
At this conference, Professor Ren once again recommended the two issues of the periodical and the special columns. After the conference, scholars from Germany and Spain requested for the periodical via email. The English website of the periodical also ushered in a wave of foreign visits.
The conference reflects how HNNU’s scholars are representing China to the world and demonstrates the international influence of the university’s "Double-First Class" discipline "Foreign Language and Literature."