Pacifist universities pose obstacle to R&D militarisation

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spurred a radical rethink of European research priorities, but a ‘civil clause’ constitutionally prohibits dozens of German universities from conducting defence-related research, raising doubts over the extent to which Europe’s biggest economy will be able to participate in a pivot to military R&D, writes David Matthews for Science|Business.

Stunned by the invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared a Zeitenwende – a historical turning point – and promised to overturn decades of military neglect with €100 billion (US$107 billion) more for the military this year alone. Yet in Germany’s pacifist-leaning universities, there is no sign of a similar Zeitenwende just yet.

German university civil clauses date back to the post-war period, when institutions sought to atone for their role in aiding the Nazi war machine, although there have been a flurry of new clauses adopted in the past two decades. A total of 74 institutions have some form of the clause, according to a campaigning group that supports them.
Full report on the Science|Business site