Letter to AE and YAE members and guests from the President Sierd Cloetingh#

July 2015#

Dear fellow members of the Academia Europaea, members of the Young Academy and guest readers,#

I have a number of important announcements to make and a major development to report on.

Firstly the major development
For many years, our members and the section committees have been pressing the AE to become more engaged directly in the European science (in the sense of ‘Wissenschaft’) policy arena.

That space has been and of course continues to be very crowded, both with specialist lobbies; nationally based organisations; pan European umbrella organisations and of course politically focussed specialist groups. Our voice was limited and we necessarily restricted ourselves to a focus on interventions relating to issues affecting the freedoms and independence of the academic discourse and the role of the Humanities in the European context.

An important part of this approach, has been our very successful group – HERCuLES (Higher Education, Research and Culture in European Society), that continues to plan and execute a highly relevant series of symposia and publications in topics that are especially relevant to Higher Education, scholarship and learning. The group’s most recent publication is now available (in Open Access) through the European Review Vol. 23 (supplement number 1) May 2015, entitled “Mobility and Migration in Science”]. We are grateful to the HERCuLES group members, to the Compagnia di San Paolo and to the Academia Nationale Dei Lincei for their collaboration on this event. More recently, we held a symposium in Stockholm, courtesy of the Wenner Gren Foundations, on “From Books to MOOCs”. The volume is in preparation and the presentations are accessible on the event archive page. Plans are advancing for a further HERCuLES symposium scheduled for September 2016 and under the auspices of The Volkwagen Stiftung. This will take place in Hannover and will be entitled “University Governance: Impeding of Facilitating Creativity?“ The group are also planning a second AE-China dialogue event at Shanghai Jio Tong University, in collaboration with our member Prof. Wang Ning.

Also in connection with our engagement on science and policy: we were founder members of EASAC (The European Academies’ Science Advisory Council) providing both a President of that organisation (Brian Heap) and continuing members of both the standing panels and expert working groups. That organisation has and continues to publish an excellent series of authoritative papers on important ‘science into policy’ topics, but from a strictly scientific perspective. So we have not been absent from this landscape in past years.

Since the abolition of the position of Chief Scientific Advisor: the Commission have been working on a new model for provision of independent scientific advice for European policy. I am pleased to report, that a cooperation agreement was signed earlier this year between us and ALLEA, FEAM (Federation of European Academies of Medicine); EURO-Case (the science advisory body of the European Academies of Engineering) and EASAC (see above). Since then, a number of meetings of the Presidents of the group of five organisations and the Commission have taken place. There is strong support for this group (in the Commission) to establish a new independent platform for the provision of coordinated advice to the Commission. The system and process will utilise the already existing structures that are present amongst the group members and will facilitate a better and more integrated approach to ensure that that the Commission receives the best quality advice that covers both the scientific and the social and economic aspects (including the other humanities) of “the state of the art”, in an fully integrated way. A full proposal for the funding of this new platform is under development and it is hoped that the new organisation will become operational in 2016.

It will be imperative that you the members, are willing to play an active part in this new mechanism by engaging in expert panels, reviews and the other activities. Without your expertise and support this will not be a success and the Academies will have collectively thrown away a major opportunity.

Finally on this subject, I am pleased to report that our new cooperation is already yielding fruit. I have agreed with the President of ALLEA (Prof. dr Guenter Stock MAE) that we will plan and hold more joint events and in particular share a common programme every two years with a merging of our annual conferences. We are hoping therefore to start with and event in 2016 and to share the AE 2017 annual conference, which is planned to take place in Budapest.

Whilst these developments have been taking place, many other events and activities are ongoing, both through the Hubs and more generally.

The Board recently took part in a regional members’ discussion meeting in Bergen, organised by the Hub (Jan Vaagen, Lászlo Csernai and Vidar Totland) and where a number of regional speakers stimulated a lively debate on a wide range of scientific issues relevant to the “Northern Dimension”. We also took part in the first Bergen Consensus debate event. Where Prof. Moene was the convenor and Profs. Aarebrot and Hannesson debated the Nordic Model: “ Is it outdated? “ The intention is for the debate to become an annual and open fixture in the Hub calendar. The Hub had also organised two other events: A Young Academy/ AE symposium on ‘Clean Energy and Climate Modelling’ and a joint AE/EASAC/JRC event on ‘Nuclear Energy and Management of Spent Fuel’.

The Barcelona Hub continues to develop new links and has organised as part of the International Year of Light, an event in Lisbon (that was in part a memorial to our respected member Prof. dr Mariano Gago). I was grateful that our former Trustee Prof. Denis Weaire (Physics) represented the AE Board at the event. Reports and announcements for upcoming events can be found on the Barcelona Hub webpages.

The Young Academy ran a symposium in Uppsala, on Women in Sciences and I was pleased that a number of our leading women members took part. More information can be found on the YAE website.

The Wroclaw Hub continues to develop a strong programme and is currently planning for a major young researcher expert “Summer Schools” event in September 2016 funded by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. The theme is “Central Europe and Colonialism: Migrations, Knowledges, Perspectives, Commodities”. Again, please look at the Hub webpages for all upcoming events and calls for papers etc.

Finally on events: I know that E-zine mailings have gone out to all members (those with an unblocked email address) announcing that registration is open for the 2015 Annual conference in Darmstadt (7 – 10 September).


The programme is excellent and we will celebrate the 2015 Erasmus Medal and Lecture, to be given by Professor Edith Hall and welcome our new members who were elected in 2014. Event page.

Do not forget, that in the afternoon of 7 September, all members are invited to attend the Annual Business Meeting, where the Board and the Hubs will report on 2014; we will formally elect a new Treasurer and there will be proposals to amend some of the current regulations. This is your opportunity to question me and the other members of the Board directly. A specific E-zine mailing will be sent to all members and a webpage can be found on www.ae-info.org for the AGM.

My last announcement, is to thank all of the members who have submitted proposals into the new 2015 HUBERT CURIEN Fund. We were oversubscribed by a large margin on this first call and we have now committed all of the 2015 funds.

The following proposals were accepted (some have already taken place):

Small Presidents’ grants:

Sierd Cloetingh

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