International representatives of science take a stand on free thinking


  • More than 700 leading researchers and distinguished representatives from across business, politics and civil society will meet in Berlin for the Falling Walls Conference, whose motto “Which are the next walls to fall?” invites discussion of breakthrough research
  • At the world’s largest interdisciplinary research conference, they will gather for a group portrait to call for the protection of free thinking.
  • The Falling Walls Conference takes place each year on 9 November to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall, with 2019 being the 30th anniversary of the historic event.

Berlin, 9 November 2019. A photo with a powerful symbolism worldwide: more than 700 leading scientists and distinguished representatives from across business and politics from around the world are gathering at the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin this Saturday to call for free thinking in science and society. As part of the demonstration they will wear matching red wool hats reading “Protecting free thinking”.

The participating researchers include the British historian Timothy Garton Ash, who opened the conference together with Sebastian Turner, the founder of the Falling Walls Foundation. “Thirty years ago this Saturday, we entered a new era with the fall of the Wall. Now, as the world finds itself in a state of crisis, we need the optimistic, liberal spirit of 1989 to overcome it. That’s why I think the Falling Walls Conference slogan is so important. Let’s protect free thinking,” says Timothy Garton Ash.

“The knowledge generated by science and research provides the basis for the public to form opinions and for governments to make decisions. Free, impartial thinking is fundamental here, and it is an asset that must be protected more than ever. We want to take a stand on this today,” says Sweelin Heuss, Managing Director of the Falling Walls Foundation.

The time and location could not be more appropriate: today Berlin will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To commemorate the occasion eleven years ago, the Falling Walls Foundation was founded as a platform for interdisciplinary research with the aim of asking and answering questions about humanity’s most pressing issues. This year’s distinguished speakers and thought leaders include Shoshana Zuboff of Harvard Business School, speaking on surveillance capitalism; Mark Post of Maastricht University, discussing lab-grown meat; and Faith Osier, who is working on a radical breakthrough for the malaria vaccine.


about The Falling Walls Foundation
The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Berlin. The foundation creates international and interdisciplinary platforms and networks through its annual Falling Walls Conference, which asks each year on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall: Which walls will fall next? At the conference, 20 leading researchers from around the world present their latest breakthroughs in the natural sciences, humanities, business and technology to an audience of around 700 decision-makers and innovators in politics, research, industry and civil society. The Falling Walls Foundation also organises Berlin Science Week, which bring scientists from institutions all over the world to Berlin from 1 to 10 November. A further initiative is the Young Entrepreneurs in Science programme, which trains doctoral researchers to translate their research into a potential business idea. The Falling Walls Foundation is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Berlin Senate, as well as by numerous national and international research institutions, foundations and companies.


Press contact
Julia Knolle
Falling Walls Foundation gGmbH
Kochstraße 6/7
10969 Berlin

Tel: +49 30 60 988 39 75
Fax: +49 30 60 988 39 79

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