Through the special circumstances of the university's founding history, in particular, but also through its current work, Freie Universität Berlin represents the concept of political and academic freedom as perhaps no other institution in Germany. Since being founded in 1948, the university has felt itself bound to follow this tradition.
During times of increasing globalization, the concept of freedom must repeatedly be re-examined, and standing up for freedom must be supported. Freie Universität meets these criteria on the one hand through its international networks, on the other through the academic discourse on the conditions of freedom carried out by the Center for Area Studies, an institution that assembles the high standard of regional competency across the various humanities and social sciences at Freie Universität.
Following up on an initiative of the Center for Area Studies, Freie Universität introduced a new international Freedom Award, conferred for the first time in 2007. The award is presented to persons who served freedom in a political, social, or academic context. The Freedom Award of Freie Universität honors advocates of one of the most important values worldwide and thus complements a canon of prestigious awards.