2020 will go down in history as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was also the year in which the discussions and debates relating to climate change also became more urgent. In this context, scientists have become increasingly important as sources of facts and information, but also as key players in the public discourse on political decision-making and social behaviour. Indeed, the expertise and research findings generated by these individuals have come to shape many aspects of our everyday lives.
Berlin is the capital and political centre of Germany, but it also home to numerous top science and research institutions, including the Charité, the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and several top tier universities. As such, the city makes a significant contribution to the public discourse and debate on a number of issues. The project known as “Wissensstadt Berlin 2021” (Knowledge City Berlin 2021) was initiated by Michael Müller, Berlin’s Governing Mayor and Science Senator, and involves Berlin-based institutions joining together to take advantage of the city’s growing momentum to showcase its status as a leading city of science and to participate even further in a direct public exchange with society.
To what extent does science influence our daily lives. How does each individual profit from scientific research? How do scientists get to the point where they can make reliable statements? As a city with a long tradition of leading science and research, what kind of contribution does Berlin make to sustainable development, climate protection, health research and social cohesion? What connections are there between these major issues of our time? And how does the process of digital transformation play a part in them?
For the Wissensstadt Berlin 2021 project, the largest and most renowned Berlin institutions and key players from science and research will join forces. Spread out over the entire year, 100 individual and joint projects will take place in Berlin – in the digital sphere, at the institutions themselves and throughout the city space. From lectures, workshops, performances and podcasts all the way to a main open-air exhibition at Berlin’s “Rote Rathaus” (City Hall), the events will invite audiences to participate while also providing information on the latest scientific theories and innovative solutions.
In doing so, Berlin institutions will open their doors and their research to a broader audience and prove once again that Berlin is a diverse, interdisciplinary, cosmopolitan and innovative science metropolis. In turn, this will generate transparency and trust – in science itself, but above all in the achievements of the local institutions that make Berlin one of the most exciting and multifaceted cities for science in Europe.
Further occasions that inspired this year’s events are the 200th birthday of physiologist and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz and doctor and politician Rudolf Virchow. Both men were active in the fields of science, politics and society in the 19th century, and their research laid the foundation for innovation in diverse areas relating to medicine, physics, physiology, pathology and anthropology. They also contributed to sustainable urban development and were involved in groundbreaking advances in sewer systems and tram lines, thus demonstrating that major issues cannot and should not be tackled by science alone, but only in cooperation with politics and society.
Kulturprojekte Berlin is responsible for bundling and communicating the joint Wissensstadt Berlin 2021 with various other projects, but also for implementing additional formats such as the open-air exhibition and accompanying programme. The key aims of the project are to arouse interest and enthusiasm for science among a larger public audience, to attract a significant number of visitors and to raise the profile of Berlin as a city of science in 2021.
The project is made possible by funds from the LOTTO-Stiftung Berlin.