We spoke to Jacqueline Goldin, Falling Walls Engage Winner 2021, about her project and how the Falling Walls Engage pitches helped her raise funding.


What is your project about?

Diamonds on the soles of their feet” is about collecting information on water in the invisible rivers under the ground. It is about ‘ordinary’ citizens who collect information about water in very remote rural wells in the Limpopo Province, one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. But it is not just about data, data, data – it is also what people carry in their hearts and heads – such as dignity, hope, pride. The farmers and citizens who are collecting this data really have diamonds on their soles of their feet – rich, valid and reliable data that we simply could not get any other way. This is all about taking science out of the library, out of the laboratory – and into life.

"This is all about taking science out of the library, out of the laboratory – and into life."

Jacqueline Goldin

Falling Walls Engage Winner 2021

What was the most emotional experience when you think about your collaboration with Falling Walls Engage?

It was very emotional to be able to take the faces and voices of people who live in such excluded, remote rural areas onto a global stage. What an opportunity to share work that is being done under difficult conditions, so far away, in Berlin where for the first time the very hard work of commuinties could be recognised and applauded.

It was also very exhiliterating to realise that the project is deeply meaningful and that “Diamonds on the soles of their feet” is totally worth fighting for. And thanks to Falling Walls Engage we could tell others back home that we were on a global stage – and this has led to another grant so that the work can go on! What joy – brings tears to my eyes and incredible pride and motivation to the ‘scientists’ out there on the ground.

What makes Falling Walls Engage unique to you?

Falling Walls Engage is amazing – it brings together so many different people doing awesome work around the globe. It showcases projects that are so different to ours and yet the message that Falling Walls Engage drives home is that this is about engaged science. They know just how to find amazing people with enormous passion, and skills and to connect them, bring them together so that they realise their work is part of a huge global thrust to make science come alive for society. Falling Walls is more than an organisation – it is a family and one year after presenting in Berlin, I am still part of that wonderful family. Falling Walls Engage is truly unique in keeping people connected and sharing knowledge that can really change the world!

I have a strong academic and extensive empirical background. I have conducted numerous household poverty surveys and worked in small and large community projects covering a wide range of development topics. I am dedicated to participatory research and have worked extensively on human development and well-being and the interconnections between humans and their environment where I make a strong connection between science and feelings. My passion is citizen science – taking science out of the library and the laboratory and into everyday life – with the aim of achieving a more just society through the democratisation of knowledge. I have strong facilitation skills in socio-ecological learning and use art to emphasise new ways of learning and communicating science. I am also a passionate mentor and assist editing or writing journal articles, reports, thesis or other publications.

Further Activities to have a look at