Berlin Science Debate
Networking and Promoting Science

Berlin Science Debates

With the Berlin Science Debates, the Robert Bosch Stiftung offers a discussion platform for high-level representatives from science, politics and business. A closed forum permits experts to conduct open discussions about a socially relevant theme in science and exchange experiences. The focus is on identifying deficits and converting them into positive policy concepts and practical recommendations.

Make Science, not War! The Role of Science Diplomacy in the 21st Century

11th Berlin Debate on Science and Science Policy, November 7, 2016
Science is, and has always been, international. It thrives on the free exchange of ideas, findings and people. Moreover, science has the merits of being inherently apolitical and non-ideological. It spreads norms and values such as rationality and deliberation, universalism and impartiality, and contributes to capacity-building in deprived world regions. These “soft power” qualities have always made science an important tool in foreign policy. In the 21th century, however, we are witnessing a renewed interest in the idea of science diplomacy. Faced with a new kind of challenges that are global by nature, rooted in science and driven by technology, political players all around the world have started to put science diplomacy high on their agendas. They invest in large-scale scientific cooperation projects such as CERN or try to systematically use science to improve international relations. But what are the challenges of teaming up scientists from all around the world? How can we attempt to measure and enhance the contribution of such cooperation projects to peace and understanding? Is science diplomacy mainly a (new) tool of powerful nation states and just a different means of promoting their national interests? Is there a danger for scientists in being misused for political purposes?

Under Pressure? The Role of Science between Democratization, Economization and the Grand Challenges

10th Berlin Debate on Science and Science Policy, November 8, 2015
It may be one of the great achievements of the 20th century that the notion of scientific freedom has been accepted in democratic societies all over the world. In the 21th century however, the pressure on scientific freedom seems to rise to unprecedented levels. The narratives of Citizen Science, Networked Science, and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) pressure scientists to design their projects “with and for society”. At the same time, a neoliberal and functionalist logic has invaded the sphere of science. Science ceases to be of intrinsic or cultural value, and is mainly defined as a key driver for growth and innovation. Science has to be relevant, or not at all. And instead of following their “insatiable curiosity”, scientists spend more and more time on securing third party funding, managing funds, and measuring outputs. Will this kind of science lead to breakthrough research and help to address the (yet unknown) questions of tomorrow? Will this kind of science attract the best and brightest minds of each generation?

Lost in Translation? How to Meet the Challenges of Interdisciplinary Research, Policy Advice and Implementation

9th Berlin Debate on Science and Science Policy, November 8, 2014
Governments, companies and universities across the world are supposed to be joining forces to solve the grand challenges of the 21st century, but this task is not as easy as it seems. The traditional structures of universities are not fit to encourage and sustain interdisciplinarity, and governments don’t know how to involve scientists in decision-making processes and make use of their expertise. How to fix this? How to bring disciplines together in such a way that the big problems the world is now facing can be solved as urgently as possible, with the best possible scientific advice?

Joining Forces to Save the World: Why We Need Both the Natural and the Social Sciences to Get the Job Done

8th Berlin Debate on Science and Science Policy, November 8, 2013
Science has run into a roadblock when it comes to tackling grand challenges of the 21st century. Governments around the world have made the transition to a sustainable economy and care for the aging society top priorities. But such problems are complex, interdisciplinary and global in nature. Even in the face of clear evidence, individuals and communities fail to heed scientific knowledge - and neglect to act in their own self-interest. Can the social sciences help?

Planning the ‚Unplannable’: How Can Research Policy Contribute to Innovation?

7th Berlin Debate on Science and Science Policy, November 8, 2012
In a time of economic crisis, European leaders pin their hopes on innovation as the key to economic growth. In Germany, the so-called “energy transformation” will put the country’s innovativeness to the test. Research policy has an important role to play in this. But what should it focus on? Can the new be planned at all? Or is innovation a by-product of fundamental research that is performed for other reasons? Experts from Europe and Asia discussed these and other questions.

Science 2.0 - More Knowledge, More Transparency, More Quality?

How Web 2.0 is changing the face of science
6th Berlin Science Debate on November 2, 2011
Blogs, social media, and open access - what opportunities and risks does Web 2.0 hold for the world of science? Will the established quality criteria and filters soon be obsolete? Will publishing in leading journals no longer be considered a seal of approval in the future? Who will be the "gatekeepers" of the scientific world in five to ten years? These were the questions discussed by the international panel of experts.

How Fit Is Our Research For Global Competition?

5th Berlin Science Debate on November 2, 2010
Are our selection mechanisms suitable for identifying excellent research? How can Europe make better use of its pool of talents and be more attractive for leading researchers from other parts of the world? How much coordination and collaboration on a European level do we need to make the vision of a European Research Area a reality? Experts from several European countries discussed the competiveness of European science.

Women in Science: From the Sideline into the Limelight?

3rd Berlin Debate on Science and Science Policy, December 4, 2008
„Those who want to attract the best brains, achieve excellence and succeed in the international competition must ensure women’s equality in science and research.“ This was the demand formulated in a joint declaration by the guests at the 3rd Berlin Science Debate, including the former German Federal Minister of Education and Science, Edelgard Bulmahn, and Professor Dr. Jutta Limbach, former President of the Goethe Institute.

Themes to Date

The Berlin Science Debates have considered climate research as an example of science communication, press and public relations activities in universities and the future of Germany as a science location in view of the shortage of junior researchers.


Kristina Maurer
Phone: +49 (0)711 46084-770

More Information

The Berlin Science Debates are part of the Berlin Science Week.