51° 1/2012: Mercator Year
“It all began with a simple idea: what would happen if all of mankind’s knowledge were to be made freely available to everyone!?” For us, these words from Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, sum up exactly what Mercator Year 2012 is all about. Even 500 years ago, the exchange, transfer and expansion of knowledge already formed the central basis for the work of the cartographer and cosmographer Gerhard Mercator. Both Wales and Mercator are associated with global thinking, scientific precision and entrepreneurship, and indeed with the exchange of knowledge. These are guiding principles that are central to us as a foundation, and which we have therefore made the focus of our engagement in Mercator Year 2012.
Stiftung Mercator has committed itself to five projects during Mercator Year 2012 and is investing a total of 1.3 million euros. In our opening interview, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales talks about the importance of knowledge and about measuring the world in the 21st century. Wales was the keynote speaker at the Mercator Lecture, which this year was held in honour of Gerhard Mercator at Salvator Church in Duisburg in early March – it took place on the 500th anniversary of Mercator’s birth. Ute Schneider, a historian at the University of Duisburg-Essen, will present a portrait of Gerhard Mercator and his work. Together with Stiftung Mercator, she helped organize the academic conference on “Gerhard Mercator: Science and Knowledge Transfer” in Essen. The competition for our cabaret prize “The Black Sheep”, to be awarded in Duisburg in May, will be presented by Waltraud Wende, the prize’s artistic director, while choreographer Lidy Mouw will report on the youth exchange project Crossroutes 51° – a gift from Stiftung Mercator to the young people of Duisburg.
Furthermore, climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer will be reporting on the beginnings of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, which we established in late 2011 in cooperation with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Frank Sieren talked at the Foundation about his new book “Angst vor China” (Fear of China). We will give a brief introduction to the book, present the results of the Ruhr Education Report and look back at Stiftung Mercator’s New Year reception with its focus on climate change.