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Press Release No. 31 | 4 June 2007
DFG Projects at the 2007 Summer of Science

An Exhibition About "The Present and Future of Communication"; Sign Language is the Focus of Children's Workshops; Presentation of the Communicator Award

Language and communication research are the main focuses of the activities to be presented by projects funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) at this year's Summer of Science in Essen. Scientists and academics invite the public to the "Science Fair" on Kennedyplatz between 9 and 15 June, where they will be presenting their research findings and engaging visitors in dialogue. An exhibition entitled "The Present and Future of Communication", which was developed by the Institute of Ethnology at the University of Hamburg and shown in Essen for the first time with the support of the DFG, illustrates the relationship between people and communication media in everyday life. Presentations and children's workshops organised by the linguistics team from the University of Frankfurt will be dealing with deafness and sign language. As part of the Summer of Science, this year's Communicator Award will also be presented.

The exhibition "The Present and Future of Communication" is based on research work that was carried out under the supervision of the Leibniz Prize recipient Thomas Hengartner and which investigated the way that technology - and especially communication media such as the mobile phone and the internet - pervade and affect peoples' everyday lives. The exhibition focuses on the people themselves. Their experiences with everyday technology are not only the subject of the exhibition; the visitors can also bring their experiences to the exhibition. They can try things out, exchange views and integrate their own interpretations. The Hamburg scientists will be conducting daily tours through the exhibition. This travelling exhibition was designed and realised jointly by the Institute for Ethnology at the University of Hamburg and the Communication Museum Hamburg, and will be presented for the first time in Essen.

The activities of the Frankfurt language researcher Helen Leuninger have to do with communication of a completely different type. The topic of sign language takes centre stage here. In her presentation "Understanding with the Eyes, Talking with the Hands", which will take place on 10 June, visitors can find out about the development of German sign language and even learn a few signs themselves. However, the scientists will be paying special attention to children aged 8 to 10 years. In a series of workshops from 11 to 13 June, they can learn how deaf people communicate with each other and how sign language works. The Frankfurt team will be on hand during the entire Summer of Science, with a stand on Kennedyplatz, answering questions and providing information.

Scientists and academics from the Heidelberg Collaborative Research Centre "Dynamics of Ritual" will also be participating in the Summer of Science. In their workshops, they will be reconstructing Egyptian rituals with children and young people and providing information about research in this area.

As part of the Summer of Science, this year's Communicator Award will also be presented. On 14 June, the glaciology working group of the Bremerhaven Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will receive the award at the Zollverein, for the outstanding public communication of their research work on climate development.

The Summer of Science is organised by "Science in Dialogue" and is the central event of the Science Year 2007, which was proclaimed by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and goes under the motto "The Humanities - the ABCs of Humankind". The objective of the Summer of Science is to promote dialogue between science and society and to inspire the next generation with an enthusiasm for science.

For the year of the humanities, the DFG has released a special edition of their magazine forschung, in which scientists and academics from numerous humanities and social science fields introduce their work. The issue can be obtained from the DFG's Press Office, or can be viewed online at www.dfg.de/forschung_online.

Further Information

Information on the Summer of Science, the programme and event calendar can be viewed at

Information on the Communicator Award can be found at