Grigory Trubnikov gave interview for website of Russian-German Year of Cooperation in Science and Education

Interview, 04 September 2020

The website of the Russian-German Year of Cooperation in Science and Education 2018-2020 published an interview with Academician Grigory Trubnikov, First Vice-Director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, special representative of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (Minobnauki) for policies in science, technology and education, interaction with the Russian Academy of Sciences, as well as for international cooperation in science and technology.

«Russian-Germany scientific and educational dialogue: foreseeing the future, daring to dream and being openminded»

The cross-year of Russian-German scientific and educational partnership aims to give new impetus to cooperation between scientists of the two countries, as well as to make cooperation between higher education institutions and scientific organizations more transparent. How do you think this will influence Russia-Germany relations in the fields of science and education?

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For many centuries, our countries have been connected by strong scientific and educational “bridges”. These highways have gone through various times. They have withstood the most complicated challenges of our joint history. Nowadays, the Russia-Germany cooperation in education, science, and innovation is dynamically developing and greatly contributes to the dialogue between our states. I think that the secret of stable scientific and educational contacts is their commitment to the future, and, above all, the passion of all the people involved in the cooperation.

Indeed, let’s think about what unites dozens of thousands of scientists, students, post-graduates from our countries. All of them are drivers of the future: some of them are looking for answers to the most complex challenges of modern society. Some of them study the fundamental properties of the matter. And some of them are still on the way to this breathtaking job. However, they all create the future. They are united by the desire to expand the borders of knowledge, to overcome the Givens of being. And this is above all the borders: national, geographical, political, language, age…

I am sure that examples of successful Russia-Germany collaborations, joint projects, and events should become, and have become thanks to the Year, noticeable for the wide range of our fellow citizens and our German partners. Examples of the cooperation are supposed to give impetus to further enhancement of Russia-Germany scientific and technical dialogue. I cannot but mention some of them. In particular, our countries have agreed on close cooperation in the fields of large-scale mega-science research infrastructure being formed in the territory of our country.

On 28 June 2019, in Berlin, Minobrnauki of Russia and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany (BMBF) signed the “Berlin Ministerial Declaration of Intent” which fixes the mutual interest of both parties to develop cooperation in the frames of the PIC and projects, in particular, in the creation of the International Organization for the use of neutrons in research.

This year, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) and the Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI) signed the Cooperation Agreement on the NICA project due to which German partners will contribute to equipping and operation of the Complex of Superconducting Rings for Heavy Ion Colliding Beams “NICA”. Moreover, BMBF and JINR signed the Joint Declaration of Intent in the fields of fundamental scientific research and developments.

I am convinced that these milestones on the highway of bilateral scientific and technical cooperation in the mega-science fields will be followed by others.

At the same time, I should note that these documents – agreements, declarations, and contracts – are not the end in itself. It is important to have a trusting, mutually beneficial, and useful, pragmatic dialogue between our scientific and educational communities. And how does this dialogue exist? It lives thanks to biographies, both professional and personal, of particular people.

I believe that such large-scale bilateral initiatives as the Year allow many people (not only from Russia and Germany) to be engaged in our joint scientific and educational history and, in a sense, creators of our joint future.

What are the further steps to be taken by both parties to facilitate the development of Russia-Germany cooperation in science and education? What is currently missing, and what measures will ensure the greatest impact?

Cooperation in science and education of our countries is, of course, a large, bright canvas woven from numerous threads. Our universities bring together about a thousand of inter-institutional partnerships. Germany is one of the key partners in terms of the number of scientific projects conducted jointly with Russia. In total, since 2014, more than a hundred research projects with the participation of Germany gained support in the frames of the Federal Targeted Programme for Research and Development in Priority Areas of Development of the Russian Scientific and Technological Complex for 2014-2020. The total amount of funding from both sides is more than 5 billion rubles.

The scientific and educational side of Russia-Germany relations has traditionally allowed building a bridge to the common future of our countries. As any other cooperation field, this one requires fairly human “things” for fruitful development, such as trust, mutual respect, mutual interest.

In this regard, being a long-standing participant of international cooperation, I suppose that we should focus primarily on the younger generation, as far as today’s schoolchildren, students, post-graduates, young scientists will determine our cooperation in a few years. That is why I believe that the cross-year has at least allowed us to create platforms for direct communication within this target group. Interest, trust, and, ideally, joint initiatives are born in communication. It is significant that younger generations in Russia and Germany think and build their future based on dialogues, partnership, mutual respect, and shared responsibility for the future of Europe and the world at large. And such a dialogue should be constant, “routine” if you like. And this requires the creation of platforms and opportunities attractive for young people and appropriate for the time.

In the frames of the Year, together with our colleagues we initiated the Russian-German University Science Forum at the NUST MISIS in December 2019. 300 experts from Russia and Germany took part in the event. A meeting of young scientists from our countries evoked a special interest. We asked the youth what would be interesting for them to discuss and what they cared about. As a result, the youth platform mostly focused on the importance of internationalization for the career advancement of a young scientist. A separate panel discussion was dedicated to the issues of commercialization of scientific projects. In addition to it, a Russian-German “Science Slam” was organized. I find these three elements to be possible tracks according to which we, “adults”, should work creating the most optimal conditions for self-realization of the scientific youth: pragmatic internationalization of the career of a young scientist, accessible mechanisms for commercialization of scientific results, as well as science popularization, including social responsibility of a scientist to society, which (for example, represented by the state) invests in their activities. In this regard, I have great expectations of the initiative of both the Russian Academy of Sciences and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in the creation of the “Russian-German Coordination Council of Young Scientists and Innovators”.

Summing up, I would say that support for young people is the most effective long-term investment in the successful future of the Russian-German dialogue.

Has the cross-year had an impact on the aims and tasks of Russia in international and educational partnerships in general, not only with Germany? Have new goals and objectives been formulated? What are they?

First of all, I would like to say that the important driving components of any successful and fruitful interaction, joint work, and creative activities are foreseeing the future, daring to dream, and openness. In my opinion, the Year has provided an opportunity for experts from Russia and Germany to think and dream about something we can and we should do together for the sake of the scientific and technical development of our communities and ultimately to make the life in our countries (and beyond) more comfortable and happy.

I should mention though that such a dynamic scientific process cannot be developed harmoniously in modern society without an appropriate “accompaniment” of the humanities, historical understanding of the past, and philosophical planning of the future. Many discussions of our joint (scientific, educational) future were held at the platforms of the Year. Along with such “popular” topics as artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, or climate research, the refrain of the discussions was the necessity for joint long-term initiatives in the humanities. In particular, the ideas to create a Russian-German Institute of Reconciliation History, as well as the International Institute for Integrated Childhood Research, were offered.

It is important to maintain the momentum gained in the frames of the Year and convert it into sustainable development of partnership and trust relations of our countries not only in the fields of education, science, and innovation.

I would also like to note that the Year has demonstrated the importance of communication between representatives of scientific and educational communities of the two countries (especially in the pandemic conditions). In this regard, it is obvious that the dynamic operation of the information portal of the Year, a platform that clearly reflects active dialogue of representatives of universities and academic communities, has become a great advantage. I think it would be reasonable to use this “sustainable development” source after the cross-Year as well. Therefore, I am glad that colleagues consider the issue of creating a joint Internet portal of the Russian-German “Roadmap for Cooperation in Education, Science, Research and Innovation” on the basis of the Year’s website. I hope that everything will be successful.

Thank you for the interesting questions.

Source: Official Russian website of
the Russian-German Year of
Cooperation in Science and Education 2018-2020