Many well-known personalities have resided in Tübingen over the past few centuries. They came in order to teach, to study, to find space in the town on the Neckar for their artistic, scientific or political goals. The university was set the cornerstone for numerous great careers, and has itself been molded and enriched by the subsequent activities and events.

Since 1868, the university town has awarded honory citizenship to people who have brought the town prosperity and esteem; it is the highest acknowledgement a community can enunciate. In 2002 on the occasion of the 525th anniversary of the Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen, this award was given to the Nobel prize winner Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, to the man of letters Walter Jens and to the theologian and co-founder of the Global Ethics Foundation Hans Küng.