American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

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Alexander von Humboldt - Foundation

BUKA Alumni Meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia, 2014

BUKA Alumni Meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, November 19-22, 2014


The first meeting of German Chancellor Fellows (BUKAs) in Russia was held in St. Petersburg from November 19-22, 2014. The meeting attracted large participation of alumni from Russia, China and including five US BUKA and participants from the broader Humboldt network. The meeting was organized by a steering committee of Russian alumni of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, chaired by Professor Prof. Dr. Tatjana Nikitina (Russian BUKA, 2003-2004) under the patronage of the Saint Petersburg State University of Economics and with the support of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH).

This year’s central theme of the meeting was “sustainability in a global world.” In addition to the substantive program, representatives of the Russian, Chinese, Moldovan and US alumni organizations discussed program developments in their respective countries and presented ideas for strengthening the global BUKA and Humboldt networks.

Special guests Dr. Heike Peitsch, Consul General of Germany in St. Petersburg, Professor Dr. Igor Maksimtsev, Rector of Saint-Petersburg State University of Economics, Dr. Steffen Mehlich, AvH’s Head of Sponsorship and Networking Department and Dr. Heidi Foerster, AvH’s Program Director for the German Chancellor Fellowship Program, opened the meeting and shared new developments in AvH programs. They presented statistics on the largest and oldest group of BUKA alumni, those residing in the United States, and an update on the expansion of the program to India and Brazil. It was also announced that the forthcoming 2015 alumni meeting will be hosted in China.

Professor Dr. Boris Krylov, head of the Humboldt-Club in St. Petersburg, moderated alumni presentations on the first day together with Dr. Olga Gulina (Russian BUKA, 2006-2007). Presentations ranged from household savings to higher education partnerships and from the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall to centers for Russian studies in Germany, among many other topics. David Abraham (US BUKA, 2008-2009) spoke about “Sustainable Banking—a Technology Perspective” and Dr. Elizabeth Otto (US BUKA, 2004-2005) spoke about “Bauhaus as a Kind of Utopian/Sustainable Community.”

A networking reception on the first evening provided the perfect backdrop to reconnect with Humboldt colleagues over a live musical performance and Russian delicacies.

Day two of the conference was moderated by Dr. Olga Ulanova (Russian BUKA, 2005-2006) and Dr. Olga Svenshikova (Russian BUKA, 2010-2011). Topics included global supply networks, Chinese investments in German companies, and migration and immigration strategies. Dr. Jen Jack Gieseking (US BUKA, 2010-2011) spoke about “Sustainable Space for Difference in the Gentrifying Metropolis: Berlin and New York City,” while Dr. Ghada Qaisi Audi, (USA BUKA, 2003-2004) spoke about “Sustainable Corporate Governance: Are Women on Boards of Directors the Solution?

A visit to The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library on day two provided insight into the sustainability of libraries. The library features state-of-the art technologies in cataloging, digital content production, and electronic reading rooms. It also houses multimedia centers and exhibition venues. The evening program continued with a visit to the Palace of Grand Duke Vladimir (which became the “Maxim Gorky House of Scientists” after the October Revolution) for a tour and a performance of amateur ballet miniatures. This palace, consisting of nearly 350 rooms, is among the most authentic and well preserved royal interiors in the city,

Day three of the conference, a half-day of presentations, was moderated by Inna Kotlian (Russian BUKA, 2010-2011) and Dr. Sergey Motuz of the National Research University Higher School of Economics. Presentations ranged from the empowerment of young explorers to the collaboration between Russian and German universities and the transformation of international journalism. Rachel Cylus (US BUKA, 2010-2011) spoke on “Roma policy in the European Union: Comparing the Approaches of Multi-level governance and Intergovernmentalism.”

Upon closing of the official alumni conference, a program geared towards young leaders and scientists ensued, with presentations by Drs. Steffen Mehlich and Heidi Foerster.


For a more personal perspective on US BUKA involvement in the 2014 BUKA Alumni Meeting, check out David Abraham’s Experiences with Russian Travel and Hospitality and Jen Jack Gieseking’s Queer and Urban Reflections on St. Petersburg BUKA Alumni Meeting.