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Next Grand Challenge Forum

In a joint process of participants from science and society, we searched for the topic for the Next Grand Challenge of the Berlin University Alliance. The submitted topic proposals could be grouped into 5 topic areas.

The topic grouping was followed by the topic evaluation. The central component here was the Next Grand Challenge Forum, to which stakeholders from science and society were invited to discuss the five topic areas. Following the forum, five topic profiles were created based on the discussions and contributed content of the forum participants.

© Johannes Telgenbüscher

Next Grand Challenge Forum

During the one-day event Next Grand Challenge Forum, on February 28, 2023, at the Tagungswerk Berlin, stakeholders from science, society, politics, administration and business fleshed out the topic areas and backed them up with arguments. A total of 145 people took part. A varied supporting program (e.g. visualization of visions of the future, poetic recording) and suitable moderation created a working atmosphere that enabled discussion at eye level and diversity of perspectives on the topic areas.

Some invitees were unable to attend the Next Grand Challenge Forum. They were sent access to an online form to also contribute to the concretization of the topic areas.


9:00 a.m.

  • Registration/Arrival
    Feel like coffee? Networking? Visualize the future? We do. So come on time!

9:30 a.m.

  • Welcome and pitch of the topics
    Our start in the day - together with BUA speaker Geraldine Rauch, President of the Technical University of Berlin, and poetry slammer Lars Ruppel.

10:00 a.m.

  • Market of people
    Here you will meet people who are working with you to find topics for the Next Grand Challenge. People who, like you, are passionate about research for the future.

10:30 a.m.

  • Coffee break

10:45 a.m.

  • Defining the topics (Part 1)
    Why should your topic area be the Next Grand Challenge? Now it's about your research questions, your arguments, your visions. For each topic area a profile will be developed. Get involved and shape BUA's new research field through your ideas.

12:15 p.m.

  • Lunch break

1:30 p.m.

  • Market of topics
    The others have good ideas, too - get inspired, give feedback and take advantage of thinking outside the box.

3:00 p.m.

  • Coffee break

3:15 pm

  • Concretization of the topics (part 2)
    Are your profiles lacking the finishing touches? The feedback of the others is right and important? Your chance to polish your arguments for the topic area one last time.

4:00 pm

  • Summary and outlook
    It's time to say goodbye - with an outlook from Stephan Völker, member of the Executive Board of BUA, Vice President for Research and Appointments at the Technical University of Berlin, and a poetic broadside.

4:30 p.m.

  • End of event

The Topic Profiles

Following the forum, a topic profile was created for each topic area. Each topic profile includes a summary introduction, the grouped submissions from researchers, students, and youth, and the focus areas, research questions, and arguments for each topic area identified by participants at the forum.

The arguments are based on the criteria of a Grand Challenge:

  • Societal Relevance:
    A grand challenge is a complex global challenge of high current and future scientific and societal relevance, for the solution of which innovative inter- and transdisciplinary approaches are required.
  • Science Excellence:
    A research field that addresses a grand challenge equally addresses an epistemic interest and is compatible with excellent, international research.
  • Berlin Expertise:
    A grand challenge can harness the special competencies or particular potentials of the scientific stakeholders in Berlin, as well as of those stakeholders not affiliated with academia.

Based on the topic profiles, the BUA Board of Directors made the final topic selection.
The topic profiles are based on the content developed by the participants and do not reflect the opinions of the authors. It is not excluded that there are further arguments in favor of a topic according to the criteria of a Grand Challenge that have not been listed.

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