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Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk Founded

New scholarship program for gifted students seeks to end discrimination against humanistic students


Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk (Collage using a photo by Josh Hild /

After many years of preparations, the Humanistischer Verband Deutschlands (HVD - Humanist Association of Germany), the Giordano Bruno Stiftung (gbs), the Humanistische Akademie Deutschland (HAD - Humanist Academy of Germany) and the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft humanistischer Studierender (BAG - Federal Association of Humanist Students) have founded the Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk. With its help, humanist students shall receive the same support as their religious fellow students.

Currently, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) finances thirteen study programs, four of which are aligned with religion, six with party politics, and two others with economic or trade union affiliations. Contrary to the ministerial directive that the landscape of scholarships for the gifted should reflect the "various ideological, religious, political, economic or trade union-oriented movements in Germany," not a single one of these scholarships for the gifted is worldview-oriented - despite the fact that humanism is a worldview shared by a significant proportion of the population and especially of students in Germany.

Humanists answer the great existential and ethical questions of humanity without resorting to supernatural powers. That they currently cannot turn to their own scholarship fund, while Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim students have the opportunity to choose a scholarship fund for gifted students of their religious preference, is, in the view of the humanist associations, an expression of ideological discrimination. In order to counteract this systematic discrimination, the Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk was founded in Berlin a few weeks ago. An informative brochure, which can be downloaded immediately from the website, launched today, provides information on the concept of this "humanistic scholarship program for gifted students".

The Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk

Bertha von Suttner, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and deceased in 1914 shortly before the start of World War I, is the eponym of the newly founded scholarship program. She made history not only as a pacifist and women's rights activist, but also as a humanist freethinker and committed representative of a worldview based on science and humanity.

One of the goals of the Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk is to support exceptional young people who identify with a humanistic worldview and its values and are willing to critically reflect on their own views and advocate for them. The commitment can be of political, social or other nature, but should show that the applicants actively engage with their social environment and strive to improve the conditions of human life and coexistence. The exact mode of engagement is deliberately not specified.

In a first step, the Studienwerk will award ten scholarships per year starting in fall 2021. In addition to financial support, the Suttner scholarship holders will also receive non-material support. In a second step, the Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk aims to receive the same state funding as existing religiously oriented educational institutes.

The numerous public figures, including many scientists, who support the project of the "humanistic scholarship program" are equally convinced of the necessity of putting the Bertha von Suttner-Studienwerk on an equal footing with the state-funded religious scholarship programs.

Board of Directors: Anja Krüger-Chan (Humanistischer Verband Deutschlands), Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Schmidt-Salomon (Giordano Bruno Stiftung), Dr. Ralf Schöppner (Humanistische Akademie Deutschland), Tobias Wolfram (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft humanistischer Studierender).

Supporters: Prof. Dr. Christoph Antweiler (ethnologist), Seyran Ates (lawyer / author), Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau (political scientist), Dr. Tanja Gabriele Baudson (giftedness researcher / psychologist), Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.. Dieter Birnbacher (philosopher), Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart (chemist / founder of the Cradle to Cradle principle), Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Brauns (lawyer / university lecturer), Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hubert Cancik (classical philologist / humanism researcher), Helmut Debelius (oceanographer), Karen Duve (writer), Prof. Dr. Theodor Ebert (historian of philosophy), Prof. Dr. Richard Faber (sociologist), Dr. Carsten Frerk (social researcher), Prof. Dr. Dittmar Graf (biology didactician), Stefan Gelbhaar (member of the Bundestag), Dr. Colin Goldner (psychologist / author), Dr. Monika Griefahn (sociologist / former Minister of the Environment), Prov. Doz. Dr. Siegfried Heimann (historian / political scientist), Prof. Dr. Rolf Dietrich Herzberg (criminal law teacher / legal philosopher), Prof. Dr. Dr. Eric Hilgendorf (jurist / philosopher), Manfred Isemeyer (Chairman Humanismus Stiftung Berlin), Dr. Mathias Jung (Gestalt therapist / philosopher), Prof. Dr. Horst Junginger (religious scientist), Wolfram P. Kastner (artist), Dr. Heinz-Werner Kubitza (religious scientist), Prof. Dr. Hartmut Kreß (ethicist / theologian), Prof. Dr. André Lipski (nutrition and food scientist), Dr. Martin Mahner (biologist / science theorist), Ingrid Matthäus-Maier (politician / lawyer), Prof. Dr. Horst Marschall (geologist), Prof. Dr. Axel Meyer (evolutionary biologist / zoologist), Prof. Dr. Thomas Metzinger (philosopher / cognitive scientist), Philipp Möller (author), Dr. Jürgen Neffe (writer / science journalist), Dr. Jacqueline Neumann (lawyer), Dr. Gisela Notz (social scientist), Prof. Dr. Rolf Oerter (developmental psychologist), Helmut Ortner (publicist), Mark Rackles (consultant for educational strategies / former state secretary), Dr. Rainer Rosenzweig (mathematician / psychologist of perception), Prof. Dr. Enno Rudolph (philosopher), Prof. Dr. Hermann Josef Schmidt (philosopher), Swen Schulz (member of the Bundestag), Rolf Schwanitz (lawyer / State Secretary in the Federal Chancellery, ret.), Prof. Dr. Volker Sommer (primatologist / evolutionary biologist), Iris Spranger (member of the Berlin House of Representatives / State Secretary, ret.), Prof. Dr. Gerhard Streminger (philosopher), Alice Ströver (managing director / former state secretary), Rüdiger Vaas (science journalist), Esther Vilar (writer), Prof. Dr. Eckart Voland (sociobiologist), Prof. Dr. Dr.  Gerhard Vollmer (physicist / science theorist), Prof. Dr. Barbro Walker (educationalist), Prof. Dr. Ulla Wessels (philosopher), Prof. Dr. Franz-Josef Wetz (philosopher), Prof. Dr. Frieder O. Wolf (philosopher / political scientist).


Humanism answers the great existential questions of humanity without resorting to supernatural forces. Humanists are convinced that humanity alone is responsible for living together well and are therefore committed to values such as humanity, reason, empathy and tolerance in everyday human interaction. Humanism is an offer for orientation for all those who are committed to human well-being and a humane shaping of the world according to the long-term civilizational prosperity of humankind.