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Diversity Prize 2022

We encounter living diversity everywhere: This is demonstrated by the Diversity Award of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU), which has now been awarded for the fourth time. The honorees represent all those who are committed to equal opportunity and help to ensure that everyone can freely develop their potential. They give wings to the HHU principle of "Excellence through Diversity" - in research, teaching and studying.

On May 3, 2022, the Diversity Award was presented to Prof. Dr. Wolf B. Frommer, head of the Institute of Molecular Physiology and Alexander von Humboldt Professor, to Esther Seyffarth, research assistant at the Faculty of Humanities and doctoral student in general linguistics, specializing in computational linguistics, and to students Iman Akboua and Nada Haddou-Temsamani, who jointly head the AStA Women's Department.

The four honorees were selected by a committee consisting of representatives of all status groups, Prorector Prof. Dr. Stefan Marschall and the head of the Diversity Section of the Heine Center for Sustainable Development, Dr. Inge Krümpelbeck. She emphasizes, "Receiving the Diversity Award is important because it shines the spotlight on those who are committed to successful coexistence on campus, even in times of WebEx studies and home offices." Professor Marschall is particularly pleased that this year's honorees make it clear that great research, teaching and diversity belong together.

Here you can find information on other years

Prof. Dr. med. Klaus Pfeffer

Prizewinner in the group of lecturers

"I work with a very international group and the group, not me, actually deserves an award for cross-cultural and inclusive collaboration."

  • Degree / Profession
    Biology, Alexander von Humboldt Professor
  • What you will be honoured for as a prizewinner? - Excerpts from the nomination letter
    "Prof. Frommer is the head of the Institute of Molecular Physiology. I am fortunate to be one of his master's students. His group is very heterogeneous in many ways: Nationalities, ages, genders, health issues, family life, etc. I have always felt included and supported in the group and have never experienced any discrimination towards me or any other member."
    "Wolf B. Frommer encourages and supports diversity. His lab is diverse in many ways (nationalities, ages, genders, health issues, family life, sexual orientation, etc.). Since I have been working in his lab, I have never felt discriminated against, I have never felt that my being different could be a limitation, I feel supported! 
    For these reasons, I would like to propose Wolf B. Frommer for the HHU Diversity Award 2022."
    "I propose Mr. Wolf Frommer for the 2022 Diversity Award because he creates a tolerant, prejudice-free working atmosphere for his employees, where everyone has the same opportunities and is valued. The team, 
    consisting of different genders, sexes, sexualities, age groups, nationalities, religions, and physical and mental health conditions, is actively supported by Mr. Frommer in breaking down and dismantling diversity-sensitive boundaries."....
  • How long have you been involved in the field of diversity at the HHU?
    As part of my work as a scientist, I have been with international scientists since my first steps as a student assistant; I planned my first postdoc in Mexico with the help of the DFG, then went to China instead. I had an international group in Tübingen, then lived and worked in California for almost 15 years. My current group has collaborators from 15 nations with over 50% women, and I have a lab in Japan. So I am always working with diverse cultures to advance our research.
  • What motivated you to get involved?
    My perhaps somewhat whimsical and unscientific perspective is that I was born in Germany by chance and have enjoyed and continue to enjoy many privileges. In other words, it is not my merit to have been born here, and my life would be completely different if I had been born in another place. For example, the career of a woman who comes from a small village in Asia and completes a successful dissertation is orders of magnitude more impressive compared to my career as a white male in Germany and the United States. I am also convinced that we need more women in important positions, it is shocking to see how many countries are run by autocratic men and I am convinced that we would have less or no wars if these positions were occupied by women.
  • In your opinion, what can be done on the part of the HHU to continue, expand or support the results of the respective commitments?
    What would you like to see the HHU do in the future with regard to diversity?

    JUNO is a fantastic program that helps our guests and employees from other countries to quickly solve the quite complex administrative challenges, to find a home and to get used to the new work and environment. 
  • Why should others get involved? / Why is it worthwhile?
    I consider it completely normal and a natural attitude, and therefore do not see it as a remarkable commitment at all. Working with diverse cultures and people helps us to understand ourselves and this world better.
  • What is the feedback from colleagues or students?
    I don't think I've done anything special here at all, I'm working with a very international group, and the group, not me, actually deserves an award for cross-cultural and inclusive collaboration.
  • Is there already a new project that you would like to tackle in the future and which you could already tell us about?
    As a scientist, I can use my expertise to try to help those who are most vulnerable, such as subsistence farmers in India and Africa. With a very diverse team and in close contact with local breeders, we are trying to successfully develop rice varieties that are less susceptible to diseases and therefore help these people to exercise one of their basic rights, which is the right to food. In this project we always work with many people from other countries and cultures and can learn from them. 

Esther Seyffarth

Prizewinner in the group of staff members

"Since 2019, my teaching guide has been a mandatory part of every course I teach. This allows me to communicate at the beginning of each course what my expectations are for the participants and for myself."

Danielle-Christine Ebers, 29

  • Degree / Profession
    Master of Social Sciences-Social Structures and Democratic Governance
    Research assistant in the Department of Educational Research and Educational Management
  • What you will be honoured for as a prizewinner? - Excerpts from the nomination letter
    "I participated in the course "Flight, Asylum and Integration", led by Ms. Ebers, for two semesters and was able to gain an incredible amount of hands-on experience and meet great kids and young people. This important work, especially with refugee children should be appreciated in the form of a prize. In addition, Ms. Ebers supported me, in the form of writing recommendations and advice, to complete a semester abroad in Asia."
    "Danielle Ebers is committed to diversity and volunteerism at HHU. With the project seminar Flight, Asylum and Integration, she offers students the opportunity to deal with socially relevant topics and to connect theory with practice. Together with Ms. Ebers, students can organize and implement projects for refugee children and young people."
  • How long have you been involved in the field of diversity at the HHU?
    In 2016, I participated as a student in the seminar Flight, Asylum and Integration under the direction of Philip Clooth and developed with fellow students the language buddy project, which was intended to provide immigrants with access to society, culture and language through sponsorships between refugees and students. In the summer semester 2019, I took over the service-learning seminar on flight, asylum and integration and developed projects together with students that support refugees in their integration. Since WS 20/21, as part of the service-learning seminar Diversity at Universities, I have been organizing projects together with students, online due to the pandemic, in which people with a wide range of personality traits can tell their stories, thereby promoting the appreciation of a diverse society and creating more mutual acceptance. In addition, some projects are planned to be implemented on campus after reopening.  
  • What motivated you to get involved?
    The dramatic war conditions in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan led to a high number of refugees in 2015. People fled to Europe via life-threatening routes (across the Mediterranean Sea) and many tried to travel on to Germany. During this time, I began volunteering for refugees at the long-distance train station in Düsseldorf because I wanted to actively help. For months, we provided the thousands of arriving people with food and clothing and arranged their onward journey to the refugee shelters throughout NRW was. [...] Since then, I have initiated integration projects and, through my position first as students assistant and then as a research assistant, I have also wanted to inspire students to dedicate themselves to volunteer projects and to use their creative ideas for social projects. [...] The approach behind diversity is to promote equal opportunities and social participation for all group members.
    Since I am convinced of this, I am committed to diversity and would like to develop ideas together with students that sensitize people to the individuality of people and emphasize this as a strength instead of degrading, discriminating or excluding people because of it.
  • In your opinion, what can be done on the part of the HHU to continue, expand or support the results of the respective commitments?
    What would you like to see the HHU do in the future with regard to diversity?

    In order to get students excited about volunteering, there should be more service-learning seminars in various departments. Through service-learning, students can not only gain practical experience, but also get to know their own strengths in projects and use them for social problems and the common good. They learn about social responsibility and develop solutions for social challenges.
    I would be happy to exchange ideas with all HHU members who are involved in the area of diversity, possibly in the form of network meetings. New project ideas could be discussed there and synergies could arise.
    It would be interesting if there were regular discussion forums in which students could also participate. In these forums, needs for action at HHU could also be addressed from a student perspective.
    It would make a lot of sense if there were training opportunities for staff and faculty to raise awareness of how to deal with students. I am often told by students of incidents where lecturers have made sexist and discriminatory comments, which simply should not be permitted at a university and is avoidable.
  • Why should others get involved? / Why is it worthwhile?
    In my eyes, there is no recipe why a person should volunteer. Some people start volunteering to feel better about themselves, others because they like to help, others to gain new experiences, some to find new social contacts and so on.
    I am often told that my commitment is only a "drop in the bucket".For me, however, this is often only a justification for my own inactivity, and after all, many drops eventually lead to overflowing. The special thing about volunteering is that I don't receive a monetary reward, but perhaps a smile or a sincere thank you. It's just nice to help people in need or generally make people happy. Every hour I have invested in volunteer hours so far, I see as teaching lessons for myself as well. I have been able to meet many people with different fates, which has taught me that nothing can be taken for granted and that I should be grateful for what I have.
  • What is the feedback from colleagues or students?
    The feedback from students is often that they are very grateful for the experience they have gained and are looking forward to being able to get involved in practical and social activities during their studies. As part of the service-learning seminar, the students were able to carry out business games of their own ideas and implement them without any risk to themselves. Some students told me that this motivated them to become more independent and to courageously realize their own ideas.
    I think students appreciated the fact that I invested my free time in the implementation of their project ideas, which in turn motivated them to continue working on the projects on weekends and in the evenings. Most of the time I had a part-time job at HHU and still took over the complete management of all projects and helped organize programs for refugee children on weekends, because I do this out of passion and voluntarily. Students often praised this authentic enthusiasm for volunteering.
  • Is there already a new project that you would like to tackle in the future and which you could already tell us about?
    We would like to launch a Youtube channel on the topic of diversity. The Youtube channel will address taboo topics. We will conduct interviews with people of different origins, gender, skin color, with physical and mental impairments, sexual identities...and we want to show how valuable the individuality of each person is.
    Project development for people who suffer especially from the contact restrictions in the corona pandemic : The projects address people who suffer from loneliness, financial hardship, social deprivation and mental illness.
    Once attendance at HHU resumes, projects are planned to bring HHU residents closer together. E.g. a charity run, organization of a picnic basket distribution station in the botanical garden...

Iman Akboua and Nada Haddou-Temsamani

Prizewinners in the group of students

"Engagement is worthwhile to learn about other perspectives, but also to make your own perspective visible."

Nada Haddou-Temsamani und Iman Akboua

  • Name, age
  1. Iman Akboua, 23 
  2. Nada Haddou-Temsamani, 22 years old
  • Studies/ Profession
  1. Business Administration, SHK Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe
  2. Bachelor Social Sciences - Society, Media, Politics
  • Why are you being honored as an award winner?/ Excerpts from the nomination text"                                                                                                                              Iman Akbou and Nada Haddou-Temsamani advocate for intersectional feminism and invite interesting women for your events who are doing important work as BIPoCs. Despite the Corona situation, Nada and Iman have organized numerous events and reached out to new female students because of their emphasis on intersectionality. They have also changed the logo of the Women's Department. It would be a great appreciation to you to honor them.
  • How long have you been involved in diversity at HHU?
  1. Since 2018.
  2. I have been involved in the autonomous Women's Department at HHU since 2019. Diversity plays a relevant role in this honorary office insofar as our actions and projects address and depict different realities of life within the framework of an intersectional queer feminism.
  • What motivated you to get involved?
  1. The MHG Düsseldorf
  2. I have already been involved in the Düsseldorf Youth Council since 2016, representing it in the Equality Committee and advocating for the named topics there. That's why I quickly noticed at the university that I was missing a space for this. I am grateful to be able to fill this space together with the loving Iman.
  • From your point of view, what can be done on the part of HHU to continue or expand the results of the respective commitments or to support them? What would you like to see from HHU in the future with regard to diversity?
  1. Easily accessible offers for students. Advertising in lectures so that more students are aware of the offers.
  2. I would like to see greater diversity awareness and a discrimination-sensitive approach to the different levels of diversity at the university. This requires the identification of discrimination risks and affected target groups, for example through regular surveys. A further means to this end would be mandatory training for university-internal actors and the establishment of an official anti-discrimination office.
  • Why should others get involved? / Why is it worthwhile?
  1. It is incredibly fun and opens up opportunities for career and personal development.
  2. We are all a part of this society. We all attend the same university. Let's engage in exchange because of it! Engagement is worthwhile to learn about other perspectives, but also to make your own perspective visible
  • What is the response from colleagues or students?
  1. We experience a lot of support.
  2. We receive a lot of positive feedback regarding our implementations. At the same time, we are working on reaching even more students and being more transparent in our organization. With regard to the university, many students feel it is a shame when diversity is used as a hook and the actual work falls by the wayside. We hope that certain demands will be recognized in the future.
  • Is there already a new project that you would like to tackle in the future and that you could already tell us about?
  1. The foundation of the autonomous BIPoc unit is one matter of the heart for us. We would be very happy if the university would support the foundation of such a unit.
  2. Currently there is again the possibility to organize actions and projects on site. Therefore we want to use the chance this semester to focus on networking. We are currently creating a Discord channel where students can support each other and plan different meetings at the university. Be excited! You can find more about this on our Instagram page @frauenreferat_duesseldor
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