In the 32 years since the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin opened its doors, more than 1.500 Fellows have passed through them. Given the fact of geographical dispersion, the passage of time, and the pressures of contemporary life, it is inevitable that many will have lost contact with both the Kolleg and, to a large extent, with each other. Yet, that is a loss for all: the Kolleg remains a vibrant and significant international center for the development of ideas and many Fellows, we are sure, would like to stay in better touch with each other’s activities. The purpose of this biannual e-Newsletter, of which this is the first edition, is precisely to help ameliorate the effects of distance, time and individual preoccupations, and help keep all past Fellows up to date with the life of the Kolleg and with the other Fellows.
From the beginning, the Wissenschaftskolleg was alert to the importance of staying in contact with its former Fellows. The founding of the Fellows’ Club in 1985 had that as an explicit aim, as well as helping the members to stay in touch with each other. Once a year, the Fellows’ Club organizes a big meeting of former Fellows in Berlin – next year’s will be from 26-28 June, 2014 - to catch up with what is going on at the Wissenschaftskolleg and to keep up friendships and acquaintances. Furthermore, during the year, the Fellows’ Club supports the contact of former Fellows with the institution and the current Fellows. An innovative development, which was launched last year, is a program termed the “Fellow Forum”, which seeks to employ the immense scholarly and scientific potential of its former Fellows by encouraging them to organize small workshops at the Kolleg, with other former Fellows, on original, adventurous, and significant subjects in the humanities, the natural sciences and the social sciences. Last but not least, the website of the Wissenschaftskolleg has been dramatically revised and improved in the past year to facilitate contact with former Fellows: click on “Fellowfinder” and with its help, you will quickly be able to find entries on former Fellows according to their names, the class they belonged to and their disciplines. Collaboration among former Fellows, for independent work or in connection with the Fellow Forum, should be made much easier by this instrument. Furthermore, you will find some films of evening colloquia in the Kolleg from the past few years and much interesting information about the history of the Kolleg.
This newsletter, sponsored by the Fellows’ Club, is intended to continue and expand these efforts to build stronger relationships within the larger Fellowship and to strengthen the links between former Fellows and the Kolleg itself. We, Adam Wilkins (Fellow in 2009/10) and Reinhart Meyer-Kalkus (Scientific Coordinator at the Kolleg) are its editors, and we will be working in collaboration with Peter Hammerstein, the president of the Fellows’ Club, to put together each issue. We hope that you will find items of real interest in each edition. Do write to us and give us your commentaries! We need your feedback – your comments, criticisms and suggestions – in order to develop this newsletter further.