President's page#

Sierd Cloetingh

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

February 2017#

Dear AE member, member of the Young Academy and guest readers,#


2017 is well underway with an unprecedented level of activity that underlines the importance of our Academy for the European landscape in which we now find ourselves. This year will likely bring us many events that, although originating outside of academic life, will undoubtedly impact us all. In this context, where are we likely to be involved?



Firstly, on evidence-based policy-making at the European level.
I am pleased to report that the SAPEA project is now active. Academia Europaea is already leading the first “project”, to deliver advice to the High Level Group and the Commission that will address the science relevant for “Food from the Oceans”. The coordination of our involvement in this project will be managed by our dedicated Science Policy Officer at the Cardiff Hub – Louise Edwards. I trust that you have all received both a recent call for experts and a prior request to provide the Hub with enhanced data on your expertise. If you have not yet responded, please do so (see http://aecardiffknowledgehub.wales/tag/sapea-project). The SAPEA project is an historic chance that will require members’ active participation over the next four years. Cardiff will be in touch with you again soon by email. We anticipate that enhanced data on our members´ expertise will be used in the coming months to build upon our current membership information. At the same time, the team of the AE data centre at the TU Graz continues to provide us with an invaluable service for enhancing our visibility. I take this opportunity to remind you all that SAPEA addresses “science for policy” and not “policy for research”. Graz, Cardiff and our other hubs are now all working collectively to benefit you, our members and your contributions to Europe.

A further aspect of the SAPEA project that was requested by the European Commission was, that over the four years, we develop working links with scientific networks outside of the consortium members’ own networks (i.e. beyond the SAPEA partners of FEAM, EuroCASE, EASAC, ALLEA and AE). We have already started to realise this objective. I recently met with the Presidents of several other pan-European Academy networks in Brussels and Salzburg and we are working on plans that will enhance our collective links and visibility. Our intention is also to seek links with a number of disciplinary networks over the coming months.

In the constructive debate about our role in European policy and in the SAPEA project, I am increasingly asked about the impact of BREXIT on the AE. As far as I am concerned, I strongly hope that there will be no significant impact on our Academy as an organisation. The AE was conceived as a continent-wide academy of individual scholars based on the excellence of their scholarship and without regard for nationality or narrow definitions of European geography. Thus, the fact that our HQ is in the UK (where the Academy was founded) is not an issue, nor should it be. The reality is that the AE will be needed more in the coming years, as a wide range of potentially divisive issues threaten to impact on academic life across the continent. All of our members are stakeholders in ensuring that our collective academic strengths are maintained. Perhaps symbolic evidence that the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation himself sees these things in a similar way is the recent appointment of Paul Nurse, a prominent UK-based researcher, AE member and Nobel Laureate and former President of the Royal Society, as a member of the High Level Group of experts within the Science Advice Mechanism (SAM) process. The Commissioner was clear: expertise must be obtained from wherever it resides irrespective of whether or not any individual or country is a member of the EU.

Secondly, on the wider European stage. We are playing a major role in organising a SAPEA policy-related session scheduled for October 13th in Tallinn, as part of the 2017 Estonian EU Presidency programme. Eva Kondorosi who is an AE Trustee will in her role as ERC Vice President, lead an “ERC widening European participation” initiative and she has been collaborating also with our Wroclaw Hub for regional workshop events under this initiative. More will be planned and these can be followed on the Wroclaw Hub website.

Thirdly, I move on now to more traditional events. Our HERCuLES group in collaboration with the Wenner Gren Foundations, will hold an international symposium 18 - 20 May on “Crossing over to the future: Interdisciplinarity in research and higher education“. All are welcome. You can register via the AE-info homepage. Registration is free. We will also hold a Board of Trustees meeting prior to the symposium. Trustees will of course be ready and indeed eager to discuss general AE issues on an individual basis with any members attending.

A big 2017 event, will be the joint AE-ALLEA-HAS-YAE conference on Sustainability and Resilience. This will form our 2017 annual meeting and takes place at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences 3 – 7 September. The conference website, registration and other information will be launched by the end of February, and all members will be contacted. The program is exciting with a number of AE medals to be presented including; the Gold medal to be awarded to Helga Nowotny (for her contribution to the development of European science); the 2017 Erasmus Medal will be presented to Andreu Mas-Colell, for his lifetime contribution to scholarship in Economics; and the first ever Adam Kondorosi advanced prize, will be presented to Allan Downie for his pioneering research in symbiosis and plant sciences. Also we will make presentations of eleven 2017 Burgen Scholarships to young emerging researchers who all work in Hungary. ALLEA will present their 2017 Madame de Stäel prize and the Young Academy of Europe will present their first award to Prof. Rianne Letschert, Rector of Maastricht University, for her service to promotion of young researchers and women in science.

In addition, we are honoured to have a number of significant keynote lectures throughout the programme. I note here that we will have a lecture from the 2016 Balzan Prize winner Reinhard Jahn in collaboration with the Balzan Foundation. Can I also congratulate our members Ludwig Finscher, Laurenz Lütteken and Inga Mai Groote, for their recently published book “Catalogue Raisonné of the Sonata a Tre” – a major work published by the Balzan Foundation.

There is an exciting pre-conference series of short workshops organised by some of the Humanities and Social Sciences AE sections and a possible discussion that may be organised by EUROSCIENCE on ‘BREXIT- post Article 50’.

I am personally pleased to be able to invite you to take part in our post-conference one-day excursion, taking in the geology, culture, food and wine of the Balaton area, organised by Csaba Szabo.

So, as soon as the Budapest conference website is launched you will all receive full information via an e-newsletter from the London office.

Finally: These are exciting times for us as an Academy. My hope is that we can continue to develop services relevant for you the members and work in an open and transparent way. The AE is nothing without the support and engagement of you our members, who really do 'make the difference'.

Sierd Cloetingh
Utrecht, February 2017

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