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Knowledge-Based Migration

Convegno Associazione Italiana Alexander von Humboldt
Pavia 16-18 novembre 2017

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Discorso di apertura del presidente dell’Associazione Italiana Alexander von Humboldt
prof. Giacomo de Angelis

Good morning ladies and gentlemen
It is for me a great pleasure to open this Humboldt Kolleg on “Science Based Migration”
Center of Knowledge have, in all times, been poles of attraction to those who, for one reason or another, have streaven to learn. Poles of attractions were in the past mainly the brain of a master. Today they are to a large extend research and experimental facilities. So taken in its basic nature, what we would like to call “intellectual migration” rather then its more common denomination of “brain drain” is a permanent phenomenon in the development of the man and its society. Aristotle himself was a “brain drain” for Macedonia. I personally prefere the definition of “intellectual migration” to “brain drain”, this is because the term “drain” reduces the phenomenon to a problem, namely that of the losing country. In fact, while the “brain” under consideration is a drain for one society, it is, most of the time, gain for another. The term “intellectual migration” brings the phenomenon to its real dimension seen from the angle of an international society.

Many factors are playing a role in such “migrations”:

a) Personal motivation like Academic and Scientific attraction, Cultural Impact, Groups and Classes, Material Possibilities and well-Being, Intermarriage and Kinship, Nationalism and Internationalism

b) Political and Social conditions in the home and host countries, Political factors, Social factors

Going back to the “drain” aspect of migration we have also to ascertain if the fact of a physical absence of a person from a place is necessary a lost.

Migration of intellectuals is a basic element in the cross fertilization of cultures. Comings and goings across frontiers for longer or shorter periods of time are surely of great benefit for international understanding. Intellectual migration is a phenomenon of human society which finds its justification in the shifting of centers of civilization.

Alexander von Humboldt represent a perfect example of this. The aspects I have mentioned are in the experience of most of the Humboldt fellows. I conclude conveying the best wisches for a very successful and fruitful Kolleg from the Italian Humboldt Association and a special thank Franco Ferrari for the help in the organization.