Digital life has changed a lot of our habits. We have access to almost unlimited information that is shared freely, across the globe, within seconds.

The mind wanders, there’s so much to see, to read, to listen to. It’s easy to get inspired but just as easy to get lost and distracted. In increasingly hectic and overwhelming times, we zoom in and out - and lose sight of a lot. It’s focus that counts. And there are a lot of stories and topics that deserve closer attention, require us to look at things through a different lens, and to dive deeper.

TEDxBerlin wanted you to focus! On real knowledge, not alternative facts. On the bigger picture, and on tiny details that make all the difference. On good stories and things that truly matter.



  • Joana Breidenbach


    Joana Breidenbach


    Joana has a PhD in cultural anthropology and is the author of numerous books on the cultural effects of globalisation, migration and tourism. Including: Tanz der Kulturen (The Dance of Cultures) (Rowohlt 2000), Maxikulti (Maxiculturalism) (Campus 2008) and Seeing Culture Everywhere (Washington Press 2009). Joana Breidenbach is a cofounder of and the founder of the betterplace lab.

    Twitter: @joanabp | Website:

  • Julian Breinersdorfer
    Julian Breinersdorfer

    After having learned from and worked for Dame Zaha Hadid in London, Julian opened his own architecture practice in Berlin Kreuzberg. He has since been focussing on refurbishing and reprogramming historic building complexes, mostly for tech-industry and start-up clients. His office designed the Factory Berlin, and is currently planning tech campuses in Tehran, Lisbon, Kigali and Berlin. Dealing with densification in urban core areas on a daily basis, Julian started to research the impact of density on human settlement and ecosystems on a global scale with a team of programmers, statisticians and graphic designers. The results of their investigation will be made public in a open source database.

    Website: |

  • Benjamin Weber
    Benjamin Weber

    Having worked as a management consultant for 2.5 years, Benjamin paused his job and worked for a large German NGO. For 18 months, he engaged in different departments and projects in Germany and abroad. As a physicist and management consultant in the NGO sector, he came to realize that his different background and mindset enabled him to bring in a unique skillset and perspective that lead to unintended benefits for himself and the organization.

    Having returned to management consulting for now, he lobbies for more colleagues to engage themselves and bring in their abilities in a new (non-profit-) environment.

    Benjamin studied physics in Karlsruhe and now lives in Stuttgart with his wife, from where he explores the world.

  • Elisabeth Wehling
    Elisabeth Wehling

    Elisabeth Wehling, PhD., is a bestselling author and cognitive linguist at the University of California, Berkeley. Using methods from neuroscience, experimental psychology, and discourse analysis, her work tackles a set of simple yet deep questions: How is the mind structured? Where do these structures come from? And how does the way we speak impact our social, economic, and political beliefs? Contrary to common folk theory, human thought is not an abstract, merely fact-driven system. Rather, thought arises from how our bodies interact with the world: Physical experiences with things like motion, emotions, sights, smells, sounds, and tactile perception structure our mind and language and, in turn, influence how we perceive the world.

    Elisabeth’s books include The Little Blue Book (2012) and Your Brain’s Politics (2016) with George Lakoff and the German SPIEGEL-bestseller Politisches Framing (2016). She is co-founder of the journal Moral Cognition and Communication and a leading expert for embodied cognition working with politicians, NGOs, governments, industry, and media institutions across the globe.

    Twitter:  @E_Wehling | Facebook: @elisabethwehling | Website:

  • Ali Can
    Ali Can

    Ali Can is a 23-year-old author, intercultural peacebuilder and founder of the Interkultureller Frieden e.V. (Intercultural Peace Association). Born in the south-east of Turkey, he and his family came to Germany in 1995 to escape the social oppression faced by kurdish Alevis in the Maras Region.

    In 2014 during his teacher training, Ali noticed that as more refugees were arriving an angry and worried discourse was growing ever louder. Convinced that the breeding ground for xenophobia and rightist ideology is partly based on a deep-rooted fear and ignorance of the ‚unknown’, he actively approaches those who are vocally opposed to ‚those’ refugees, ‚those’ Muslims and ‚those’ immigrants. He finds creative ways to facilitate respectful encounters and, where possible, a peaceful conversation between the two parties that breaks down prejudices. These meetings are his answer to racist slogans.

    He recently founded the Hotline für besorgte Bürger (hotline for worried citizens) and with it contacts – amongst others - supporters of the right-wing AfD (Alternative for Germany) party.

    Ali has been nominated twice for the Deutsche Engagementpreis (German Engagement Prize), is the winner of the 2016 Jugenddemokratiepreis (Youth Democracy Prize) and in September last year received two RTL Awards for his work with refugees.

    He gives readings from his book ‚Hotline für besorgte Bürger’, published by the Lübbe Verlag, throughout the German-speaking world.

    Twitter: @alicanglobal |Website: | Facebook:

  • Parag Khanna
    Parag Khanna

    Parag Khanna is a leading global strategist, world traveler, and best-selling author. He is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is also the Managing Partner of Hybrid Reality, a boutique geostrategic advisory firm, and Co-Founder & CEO of Factotum, a leading content branding agency.

    Parag's latest book is Technocracy in America: Rise of the Info-State (2017). He is author of a trilogy of books on the future of world order beginning with The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order (2008), followed by How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance (2011), and concluding with Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization (2016). He is also co-author of Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization (2012). In 2008, Parag was named one of Esquire’s “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century,” and featured in WIRED magazine’s “Smart List.” He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics, and Bachelors and Masters degrees from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He has traveled to more than 100 countries and is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

    Twitter: @paragkhanna | Website: | Facebook:

  • Tom Osborn
    Tom Osborn

    Tom is an entrepreneur and community mobilizer. As a teenager, he co-founded GreenChar, an award winning social enterprise that provides affordable and safe energy to households and homes in Kenya. Tom’s experiences growing up in poverty in rural Kenya fuels his passion for social innovation and entrepreneurship. Tom is the youngest recipient of the Echoing Green Fellowship, is a Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur and has won Women Deliver Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award and is one of the 100 Most Influential young Kenyans. He currently studies Computer Science and Economics at Harvard University.

    Twitter: @TomLeeOsborn | Website:

  • Chris Kutarna
    Chris Kutarna

    In early 2016, Chris Kutarna stood onstage in front of 500 global business leaders and confidently made two predictions: that Britain would vote to ‘Brexit’ from the European Union and that Donald Trump would be elected President of the United States. Since then, he’s traveled through four continents helping people to smash their old ways of seeing the world and make fresh sense of the time we live in. His first book, *Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance*, is already an international best-seller, and tens of thousands now read his e-letter weekly from

    Chris’ secret for making sense of present-day complexities, he’ll freely admit, is also his greatest weakness: he can’t focus on anything. Chris is a Fellow at the University of Oxford (researching China’s middle class politics); writes for everyone from *Vogue* to *The Guardian*; has started and shut a handful of businesses; and has no idea what he’ll commit to next.

    Twitter: @ChrisKutarna | Website: | Facebook:

  • Michael Shellenberger
    Michael Shellenberger

    Michael Shellenberger is co-founder and Senior Fellow at the Breakthrough Institute, where he was president from 2003 to 2015, and a co-author of the Ecomodernist Manifesto.

    Over the last decade, Shellenberger and his colleagues have constructed a new paradigm that views prosperity, cheap energy and nuclear power as the keys to environmental progress. A book he co-wrote (with Ted Nordhaus) in 2007, Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility, was called by Wired magazine "the best thing to happen to environmentalism since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring," while Timemagazine called him a "hero of the environment." In the 1990s, he helped protect the last significant groves of old-growth redwoods still in private hands and bring about labor improvements to Nike factories in Asia.

    Twitter: @ShellenbergerMD | Website:

  • Hubertus Drinkuth
    Hubertus Drinkuth

    Hubertus Drinkuth is Managing Director of Systain Consulting in Hamburg, Germany. With Systain he makes companies understand what sustainability issues truly matter and helps them to overcome their biggest challenges. In today’s globalized world these challenges typically reside in a company’s value chain. Prior to his engagement with Systain, Hubertus strongly focused on building strategies for companies, first as a Consultant with Roland Berger Strategy Consultants in Munich, Tokyo, and Shanghai, later as head of Corporate Strategy with the Otto Group in Hamburg.

    In 2009/10 Hubertus took a year long time-out from the business world and joined the board of the World Future Council Foundation, taking over the responsibility for all business and administrative issues. Today, he still serves on the Supervisory Board of the foundation.

    Twitter: @systainconsult|Website:

  • Yascha Mounk
    Yascha Mounk

    Yascha Mounk is a Lecturer on Government at Harvard, a Senior Fellow in the Political Reform Program at New America and an Executive Director at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. A weekly columnist for Slate, a monthly columnist for CNN, a regular contributor to Die Zeit, and the host of The Good Fight podcast, he has recently completed his third book, which argues that liberal democracy is splitting into two new regime forms: illiberal democracy, or democracy without rights, and undemocratic liberalism, or rights without democracy.

    Twitter: @Yascha_Mounk | Website: | Facebook:

  • Victoria Peter
    Victoria Peter

    Victoria has one heart in France and one beating in West Africa, where she develops and promotes citizen engagement and multi-stakeholder collaboration programs. Her firm believe: whatever development means - if anything, it must be based on citizen engagement.

    This is why she passionately develops the regional branch ofMakeSense in West-Africa - a global organisation mobilising citizens, private and public sector to solve social and environmental issues by accelerating grassroots entrepreneurship and social innovation.

    Apart from creativity workshops and many post-its, Victoria also accompanies African entrepreneurs and big organisations in France and Africa seeking to develop solutions for sustainable food systems. She defends the cause of citizen engagement and impactful entrepreneurship at various conferences in and around the African continent.

    Victoria has been working with citizens, entrepreneurs and big organisations since the age of 20. After developing a social enterprise foundation in Amsterdam at the age of 19 and building an innovation network for the fight against food waste in her early 20ies, she also placed open innovation and entrepreneurship within big companies, such as the Deutsche Bahn.

    Victoria holds a Masters Degree in International Development and Africa from Sciences Po, Paris

    Twitter: @VicyPeter / @MakeSense | Website:


  • Anna VR
  • Dan Freeman and the Serious


10am - 11am Registration
11am - 12:15pm Session 1
Stephan Balzer Welcome
Elisabeth Wehling Political Morality in Your Brain
Yascha Mounk How To Save Democracy
Parag Khanna & Stephan Balzer Conversation
Ali Can Rassismus mit Liebe begegnen
Anna VR Performance
12:15pm - 1:45pm Lunch Break
1:45pm - 2:45pm Session 2
Joana Breidenbach Welcome back
Benjamin Weber A business consultant at an NGO: What I learnt on my journey
Hubertus Drinkuth Delivering a sustainable world
Victoria Peter Design Thinking for Development Cooperation
Tom Osborn Re-thinking social entrepreneurship
2:45pm - 3:30pm Coffee Break
3:30 - 4:45pm Session 3
Michael Shellenberger Why Environmentalists Disagree About Nuclear Energy
Julian Breinersdorfer Utopolis: how urbanization can save the ecosystem we are part of
Christopher Kutarna Towards a new renaissance
Dan and the Serious Performance
4:45pm End




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