Thematic Week: Failure matters – Dimensions of 'Failure' in Science (completed)

Frau hält Hände zum Stop-"T"


Has someone failed if an experiment does not produce the desired result? The Volkswagen Foundation's clear answer: no! Because without error, there would be no new knowledge. Without making mistakes, there would be no progress. But creative failure has no lobby in the international science system. Those who have to meet short-term expectations, acquire third-party funding and produce a steady stream of papers shy away from time-consuming experiments with uncertain outcomes. As a result, mainstream research is booming, the willingness to take risks is declining, and scientific progress is stagnating.

Against this background, the Volkswagen Foundation will host a thematic symposium week on the topic "Failure matters – Dimensions of ‘Failure’ in Science" from December 12 to 14, 2022 at the conference center Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover. It invites applications for scientific symposia which aim to work out what it means to take risks and maybe even fail. The focus of a symposium can, for example, be on the researcher as an individual or a scientific discipline, but also take into account the challenges arising from interdisciplinary research or the cooperation with international partners. 

The Volkswagen Foundation plans to closely accompany the thematic week and to enter into discussion with representatives of various disciplines in order to generate possible guidelines for the Foundation's funding activities. There will therefore be several overarching slots for exchange and networking, to which the participants of all symposia are invited. 

General Conditions

The symposia funded by the Volkswagen Foundation take place at the conference center Herrenhausen Palace in Hannover. Regarding the general conditions and application process, in addition to the call for proposals "Information for applicants 01d, the requirements of the "Symposia" funding initiative and, in particular, the Information for Applicants 01a apply. 


The call for proposals for the thematic week „Failure matters " is being held as part of the "Symposia" funding initiative.