The lecture “Language as Catalyst and Barrier for Knowledge Transfer: Recent Development in Research & High Education held on the 5 th of March, 2020

By Azizat Sulaimon
Azizat Sulaimon of the Women Empowerment Team of the Centre for African Justice, Peace and Human Rights and Her Excellency Dr. Heidemaria Gurer, Ambassador of Austria to the Kingdom of the Netherlands at Austrian Residence.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the lecture and panel discussion titled  “Language as a Catalyst and Barrier for Knowledge Transfer: Recent Development in Research & High Education as a representative of the Women Empowerment Team at  the Centre for African Justice, Peace, and Human Rights (C.A.J.P.H.R). The event, which was organized by the Scientific Board of Austrian Science Network in the Netherlands, was held at the Austrian Residence in the Netherlands, with the keynote speaker as Prof. Andrej Zwitter, Dean Campus Fryslan from the University of Groningen and was followed by a panel consisting of Dr. Heidemaria Gurer, the Ambassador of Austria, Professor Monika Baar from Leiden University, Dr. Geert van Iersel from Fontys and Onno van Wilgenburg MA from Nuffic. The lecture was on the impact of language and how it can also be a barrier to the exchange of knowledge. 

Professor Zwitter’s keynote address included an overview of how language has facilitated education, impacted international law and the role language has played in archaeology. Some of the key remarks from is opening speech were:

“Language is really important for transferring knowledge.”

“Language is (both) fundamental and is also a barrier to knowledge exchange.”

“Language is a fabric to communication.”

Dr, Heidemaria Gurer, who is the Austrian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Professor Monika Baar of Leiden University, Dr, Geert van Iersel of Fontys MA and Onno van Wilgenburg of Nuffic also delivered remarks on the impact of language and how it could be a barrier to the exchange of knowledge. While each panelist had a different view on the use and impact of language they all agreed that language is useful in communication and knowledge transfer. She highlighted that the importance of language also depends on the geographical location. This may imply that the language of communication and the impact of a message can differ based on geographical location.

The lecture was quite educational.  The panelist discussed issues affiliated with language and the impact of language in all spheres. The takeaways from this enlightening lecture are:

(i) Language is important for communication.

(ii) Knowledge of only one language can limit a person’s intellect.

(iii) Because the use of language varies in different locations it is important to disseminate information in a way that the audience understands.

Here at C.A.J.P.H.R we understand the impact of language.  We use our various publications and programmes to try to communicate our goals and ideas to the public so that they can better understand our goals and so that we can foster cooperation for the greater good.