top of page

Breaking the Walls between Science and Society: Falling Walls Engage Hubs

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Science engagement is important when achieving scientific breakthroughs, and science needs to become more heart based, using the authority of science to speak to people and tell their stories. This wisdom was shared in discussions on how to achieve breakthroughs in science communications, science start-ups and early-stage science careers at the Falling Walls Science Summit. The buzzing Science Summit took place from the 7-9 November 2022 with a program full of inspiring keynotes, discussions, and exciting pitches that brought together people who are finding solutions toward equitable, inclusive, and sustainable development. The Science Summit showcased the work of early career and eminent researchers with impact-oriented ideas and discoveries that are breaking walls between Science and Society.

Bringing science closer to society the Falling Walls global platform for Science Engagement and international Engage Hub Network connects the global community of science engagement practitioners and organisations. Engage Hubs are spaces where relationship-building between science and society can take place to ensure that good science engagement is embedded in the community. The end of November saw the launch of Engage Hub South Africa on 28-28 November 2022, following the successful launch of Engage Hub Japan (17-21 October 2022) and Engage Hub Mexico (27 June - 2July 2022). They joined the existing Engage Hub Kenya, Engage Hub Sweden, Engage Hub Australia, Engage Hub Canada and Engage Hub Greece.

Falling Walls Science Engage Hubs are impact and purpose-driven spaces for dialogue to make science accessible to society while empowering people to become engaged with science.

The Falling Walls Science Summit takes place annually in November, and commemorates the day that the Berlin Wall fell on the 9th of November 1989. A fraternal kiss between Soviet leader Leonid Breshnev and East German leader Erich Honecker is now immortalised in a graffiti painting on the Berlin Wall (see the picture I took at the Berlin wall below - I also have a fridge magnet with the kiss of reconciliation on the fridge in my flat in Killarney, Johannesburg South Africa ). This fraternal kiss of reconciliation can also be interpreted to symbolise the aim of the Falling Walls Science Summit - building a close and special relationship between Science and Society. Projects that shape science and society were submitted by the international scientific community for Falling Walls Science Summit Breakthrough Awards led by the question: What are the next walls to fall in science and society?

The format of the Falling Wall Science Summit is both impactful and enegising. Researchers take to the stage in presentations that are a hybrid between a Ted Talk and a Project/Business Pitch. No long death by PowerPoint presentations. Instead, clear messages of the walls researchers are breaking in science and how this is helping society.

The Falling Walls Youtube Channel has uploaded live streams of the Science Breakthrough presentations and the Circle Plenary Tables, and Circle Round Tables. You can get a taste of the exciting conference discussions and make plans to attend the Falling Walls Science Summit in 2024. I plan to put this event on the yearly Evisights Engagement Calendar.

The following Falling Walls Breakthrough Awards, for science engagement and inclusive deliberation, will inform and shape the ongoing work of Evisights in breaking the walls for evidence and insights into actionable policy-making to achieve sustainable development.

Sensing for Justice (SensJus), a project led by Anna Berti Susman was awarded the 2022 breakthrough of the year Science Engagement is grounbreaking in civic science engagement. This project is breaking the wall to civic evidence of environmental harm. Ana showcased how evidence gathered by lay people through forms of citizen science is becoming more and more accurate, reliable, and credible. Sensing for Justices uses ‘civic sentinels’ performing environmental monitoring that follows scientific protocols to complement evidence and advice from experts. The ‘Sensing for Justice’ (SensJus) project examines the potential of grassroots-driven environmental monitoring as a source of evidence to claim environmental justice, and as a tool for mediation in environmental conflicts.

Sheila Jasanoff Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School a pioneer field of science and society was Breaking the Wall to Inclusive Development. Presenting the recently established Global Observatory for Genome Editing seeks to restore the principle of democratic governance by including more diverse voices in the discourse around the ethics of genome editing and other emerging biotechnologies.

The limiting Standard Argument and the questions it raises for democracy

leading to the Guiding Principles for Inclusive Deliberations (see slides below) rooted in the reality that there are multiple paths "forward".

Evisights is breaking the wall for the inclusion of evidence-informed policy-making to address societal and planetary challenges.

Permacrisis is Collins dictionary word of the year in 2022. It means an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic societal and environmental events. Climate change and associated human and natural disasters, global health pandemics, and geopolitical conflicts leading to a war in Europe join poverty, joblessness, homelessness, social injustice and public health failures are part of the global societal and planetary challenges.

In 2015 17 #sdgs were adopted by developed and developing countries in an urgent call for action to address the environmental, social and economic impacts leading to this permacrisis. In an article published in May 2015 I looked at the role of science in reaching the development goals, and concluded that: “While there is a long way to go, science is already playing its part towards creating a better world by providing leadership, an enabling environment and resources for sustainable development. It will be even more successful if collaboration becomes the byword of scientists”

In her book "Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene" Donna J. Haraway reminds us,

“Our task is to make trouble, to stir up potent responses to devastating events, as well as to settle troubled waters and rebuild quiet places.”

In the midst of this period of permacrisis, We need to stay with and deal with the trouble of the permacrisis, working collectively and in solidarity, across disciplinary boundaries.

EVISIGHTS is a #startup facilitated by Impact Hub Amsterdam building a platform to connect #evidence and #insights makers for #actionablepolicymaking to evolve a community of practice and co-create transformational tools for #sustainabledevelopment .

Evisights, a BV located in Amsterdam, is a leader in solutions harnessing actionable evidence-based insights for sustainable development.


Mission: An active engagement and learning platform connecting researchers using science, policy, art and technology for actionable evidence-based insights into policy for the transition to a digital, green, and inclusive society based on equitable north-south partnerships

Vision: Curating evidence for insights to inform actionable policy-making and achieve transformative change for people and planet

EviSights values include innovation ("solutions for sustainable development"), service ("giving top priority to societies needs"), impactful excellence ("doing it right"), teamwork (working together), collaboration (“ensuring equitable north-south partnerships”), universal responsibility (“ working for planet and people”), integrity ("ethical behavior").

The Logo is an expression of the human eye. It includes a map with Europe and Africa representing the pupil of the eye, the black circle in the centre of the grey iris. The importance of the pupil as the portal that admits and regulates the flow of light to the retina. The regulation by the pupil is part of the process which allows us to perceive images. The pupil opens and closes to control the amount of light that is allowed to enter the eye. From the outside of the eye, light passes through the clear lens, then through the pupil. This light is then focused on the retina, which is the layer of light sensitive cells at the back of the eye.

Evisights is a platform and gateway connecting Evidence and Policy, Science and Society through equitable partnerships between Africa and Europe. It is seeking to be the pupil of the eye in this process of generation and production of evidence and use and expression of insights for policy and society that occurs in and between Africa and Europe.


bottom of page