ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, celebrated its 25th anniversary along with the 20th ALLEA General Assembly, held on 8-10 May 2019 in the city Bern, Switzerland. The events were hosted and co-organised by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. As in previous editions, this year’s General Assembly was held in conjunction with ALLEA’s annual business meeting, which brought together representatives from over 50 Member Academies to discuss strategy, governance and policy matters within ALLEA.
ALLEA 25th Anniversary
The ALLEA 25th anniversary celebrations took place at the opening of the 2019 General Assembly on 8 May at the University of Bern. Christian Leumann, Rector of the University of Bern, gave a welcome address and Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin provided the opening address. Antonio Loprieno, President of ALLEA and of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, delivered a special address on the role of academies in European societies. Finally, an anniversary keynote commemorating the 25 years of European academies’ cooperation and reflecting on the future of European research was provided by Jean-Eric Paquet, the European Commission Director-General for Research and Innovation.
Madame de Staël Prize Award Ceremony
The ALLEA jubilee addresses were followed by the award ceremony of the 2019 All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values. This year’s laureate was economist Mariana Mazzucato, Professor of Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL), and Founder and Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose (IIPP). An introduction to the Madame de Staël Prize was provided by Francesco Profumo, President of the Compagnia di San Paolo which has supported the Madame de Staël Prize since 2017. The laudatory speech was given by Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council. Upon accepting the award, Professor Mariana Mazzucato delivered a lecture titled “From Market Fixing to Market Co-creation: a Mission Oriented Approach.”
2019 ALLEA Scientific Symposium: Science and Society in Present-day Europe
Under the theme ‘Science and Society in Present-day Europe’, the 2019 ALLEA scientific symposium held on 9 May brought leading academics, policymakers and civil society representatives together to reflect on the future of European science and the role of academies as bridges between the production and diffusion of knowledge for the benefit of society. The ALLEA scientific symposium was divided in four sessions.
Session 1 explored the nuanced interplay between science, society and politics, analysing how scientific changes, such as the digitalisation of many aspects of modern live, influence the interaction between science and society, as well as the challenges they create in this interaction. This session included keynote speeches by Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council, and Madeleine Herren-Oesch, Director of the Institute for European Global Studies, University of Basel. A panel discussion followed the keynote speeches, with the additional presence of József Györkös, Member of the Science Europe Governing Board; Lesley Wilson, Secretary General of the European University Association; and professor Antonio Loprieno.
Led by three experts from the Global Young Academy, session 2 provided an Early Career Researchers’ Perspective under the theme ‘Re-Enlightenment? Truth, reason and science in a global world.’ The discussion was led by Connie Nshemereirwe, Michael Saliba and Koen Vermeir. The Global Young Academy panellists discussed the values of the Enlightenment in today’s society, both in terms of current digital transformation but also in the context of a so-called post-truth world. They also led a discussion on how society can embrace the universality of science while valuing local and cultural differences, and how scientists should interpret their role in an environment that seems to be moving away from Enlightened values, yet still relies on scientists to solve the grand challenges of our time.
Session 3 consisted of an interactive session in honour of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing titled ‘Remember the Moon Landing 1969! Big Scientific Events and their Role in Society.’ The session discussed the the moon landing as one of the most important events in the history of science and mankind, how people remember it 50 years after it took place, and and the role that such scientific breakthroughs have in society. The session also addressed other memorable scientific events that followed the moon landing, while also encouraging participants to think of the next big discoveries of such importance and how these future events should be presented to the media and to society. The session was led by Nicola Forster, President of Science et Cité.
Finally, session 4 consisted of a panel debate that explored the close interaction and mutual influence between science, society and policymakers. The session took the example of the emerging nano- and microplastics debate, recently tackled by SAPEA in an Evidence Review Report for the European Commission’s Chief Scientific Advisors. The panel discussion was led by Giulia Carlini, Staff Attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law; Nicole Grobert, member of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors; Dilyana Mihaylova, Marine Plastics Project Manager at Fauna & Flora International; Sabine Pahl, co-chair of the SAPEA working group on nano- and microplastics; and Vivienne Parry, independent science writer and broadcaster.
Berne Scientifique: Guided scientific tour through the city of Bern
The ALLEA Scientific Symposium was followed by science walk through many of the scientific landmarks around the city of Bern, including the former residence of Albert Einstein and the spot where he allegedly got the inspiration for his revolutionary theory of relativity.
Visit to Basel: One-day trip to the scientific and cultural facilities of Basel
The cultural and scientific trip to Basel on 10 May started with a visit of the unique architecture of the Novartis campus, composed by architectural masterpieces by Marco Serra, David Chipperfield and Frank Gehry. The excursion continued with a guided tour of the Novartis campus’ laboratories, a walk around the historic centre of Basel and a tour of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.
About the ALLEA General Assembly
The ALLEA General Assembly is the annual meeting of ALLEA Member Academies. It convenes Academies of Sciences and Humanities from 40 countries across the Council of Europe region. The General Assembly programme consists of various parts: scientific symposia, the award ceremony of the All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values, as well as the annual business meeting.
The symposium seeks to provide a platform for connecting excellence in Europe by bringing together high-ranking European policymakers, scientists, scholars as well as the interested public to debate on the most pressing issues faced by science and research.
The ALLEA Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values is awarded to eminent scholars whose work represents a significant contribution to the cultural and intellectual values of Europe and to the idea of European integration.
About the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences is an association of the of the four Swiss Academies of Sciences: the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAHS), the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS), the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT), and the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW). It further comprises the centre of excellence for technology assessment (TA-SWISS) and Science et Cité as well as other scientific networks.
The academies engage themselves specifically for an equitable dialogue between science and society, and they advise politics and society in science-based issues that are socially relevant. They represent sciences across institutions and disciplines. Established in the scientific community, they have access to expertise and excellence and can therefore contribute specific knowledge to important political questions.