In 2009 the Council of Academia Europaea decided to re-constitute its Social Sciences Section, granting autonomy to economics and law, but still retaining other social sciences and geography. The combination of such diverse fields has led to some difficulties in the past, and the record of Section activity has been less than impressive.

On October 21, 2009 AE President Walløe announced my appointment as Section chair. I agreed on condition that (1) the Section could be regarded as a “federal” one, with each discipline allowed to pursue its own agenda within an overall agreed thematic strategy; (2) liaison persons for each of the respective disciplines be identified, and (3) a face-to-face meeting of these liaisons be arranged with support from AE. On receipt of affirmation on all of these conditions, a letter was sent to all previous members (ca 130) of AE Social Sciences Section on October 30 2009, requesting expressions of interest in continuing membership, suggestions for future activities and the names of potential disciplinary liaisons. Responses yielded names of potential disciplinary liaisons, so a second E-mail circular was sent to all members, requesting suggestions for Section Committee members, with a deadline for January 31, 2010. Meanwhile a date was set for the first face-to-face meeting with discilinary liaisons to be held in Dublin on February 18, 2010.

FIRST SECTION MEETING, Dublin on February 18, 2010#

The all-day February meeting took place at an airport hotel in Dublin and was attended also by Dr. David Coates who graciously informed us about the general structure and goals of Academia, its various projects and programmes and the guidelines for Section agenda. All nominations for new members, previously discussed via E-mail, were again scrutinised and consensus reached on the ranking of candidates.

Ideas were also aired regarding the Section’s potential agenda for the forthcoming three year period, the feasibility of this “federal” structure, and the role of each discipline. Of the thematic foci proposed two emerged as gaining most support. One was “social sustainability”, and the other was “migration and identity”. While each discipline could be free to pursue its own agenda within these thematic fields, it was decided that an effort should be made for a general Section presence at annual meetings of AE, and if possible, to organise sessions on one or other of these themes.

22ND ANNUAL CONFERENCE - Leuven, 2010#

Beyond Lisbon: Europe as Knowledge-Intensive Society
Thursday 09 through Saturday11 September 2010, Leuven

Local coordinator: Professor Theo D’haen (KU Leuven)
Academia Europaea organising group: Lars Walløe (President)

A decision was taken to organize a Section meeting on the afternoon of September 8. This opened with a Round Table Discussion on the general theme of “social sustainability”. Anne Buttimer agreed to organise this Round Table, and Yola Verhasselt agreed to act as local organizer. The discussion, entitled “Pathways to Sustainability”, took place on the afternoon before the Annual Conference in Leuven, September 8. The rationale for this discussion was announced as follows: Much of the research on sustainable development has concentrated on sources of problems - how things went wrong, how things got obstructed - and less attention has been paid to examining cases of successful endeavours. Understanding the conditions under which agents or groups of agents have succeeded with transitions to sustainability remains a major research challenge. Pathways to sustainability all involve a combination of policy, economic, social, and cultural factors. They involve elements such as governance and leadership, social capital, cultural identities, local memory, and diverse forms of human creativity.

The goal of this round table discussion was to highlight possibilities of co-operation for the common good of a better environment and case studies of situations that led to sustainable outcomes. We hope that the discussions following this Round Table will foster greater interdisciplinary collaboration on this issue and highlight the crucial contribution of social sciences to the understanding of "social sustainability".

Four evocative presentations were offered:
  • Eric Lambin: Land Use transitions and globalization;
  • Anne-Marie Guillemard: Pathways to sustainability of social protection in ageing Europe;
  • Andrea Kollmann: The integration of sustainable energy use and production for the Austrian energy system:success stories;
  • Björn Wittrok: Political Science in the Face of the Future: First-rate Research and the Challenge of Sustainability.

The round table discussion was followed by a lively Section Committee meeting at which the Chairmen of two other Sections - Economics and Behavioural Sciences - attended. Very positive views were forwarded regarding inter-sectional collaboration, especially on the issue of "migrations and health".

The academic programme of the Leuven conference focused on European Society, post Lisbon Treaty.

Anne Buttimer chaired the Section on Science and society, where much attention was paid to issues of law and the integration of various national systems. Otherwise, a new issue emerged as potential focus for inter-Section collaborative effort, i.e. “Turkey in Europe”. This question touches directly on our Section’s concern about migration and identity. Justin Stagl has accepted a leading role in designing our Section’s contribution to this issue. Meanwhile informal discussions are underway on sustainability of cities. A meeting with British experts in town and regional planning previously scheduled for 20 December 2010 in London has been postponed due to inclement weather and thistook place on February 4, 2011. A detailed report will be published in issue 2 of the Section newsletter, together with an invitation to join the initiatives that will be developed.

At Council meetings held prior to the Leuven conference nine new members were appointed for our Social Sciences Section:

All have accepted membership and now the Section Committee welcomes two new members: Sture Öberg (Sweden) and Antoine Bailly as Secretary.


Pilot project under the AE “New Initiatives” Fund
Directed by Anne Buttimer, University College Dublin

Wherefore Academia Europaea? What were its founding visions? To what extent have these been pursued and/or fulfilled?

This project engaged some of the founding members in video-recorded interviews probing the original ethos of Academia, details on the career experiences of these pioneers, the societal contexts within which the idea of a European Academy emerged, and perceptions on it challenges. These include Brian Flowers, Arnold Burgen, David Magnusson, Ruurd van Lieshout, Eugen Seibold, David Spearman, Stig Strömholm, and Dan Brändström. Hopefully these recordings could be useful as catalysts for dialogue among AE members regarding their ongoing Section agenda.

DVD copies of these recordings, together with hard copy texts of audio-recordings have been posted on the AE website ( All project materials, including edited transcripts of recorded interviews, are currently in press as Volume 19:2 (2011), a special issue of European Review.

23rd Annual Conference - Paris 2011#

The next Annual Conference of the Academia Europaea will take place at UNESCO headquarters in Paris Tuesday 20 ­ Thursday 22 September 2011 The theme is : “Chemistry, Sciences, Culture and Society in the making of Europe”

2011 is the International Year of Chemistry, and we are honoured that our conference is supported by UNESCO. All programme details can be found on the AE website by following the homepage link for the event.

Professor Anne-Marie Guillemard ( is our Section coordinator for the meeting. Our participation is important. We are happy to inform you also that the choice of recipient for the Erasmus Medal 2011 is our Section nominee, Manuel Castells and he will be delivering the Erasmus Lecture on the opening day of the conference.

Please contact Anne-Marie for details, papers, programme, or have a look at detailed information on this server.


ALL MEMBERS ARE INVITED TO NOMINATE SCHOLARS AS POSSIBLE CANDIDATES FOR ELECTION TO MEMBERSHIP. You can nominate people from outside of your own field and there are no restrictions on the number of nominations you can make.

Full instructions for using the electronic nominations system can be found on the AE-INFOCOMM website.

Information on criteria for membership can be found from the main Academia website - click here and if you still like to use paper forms, these can be downloaded from the AE webpage - but do please try to use the new electronic system first!

CLOSING DATE FOR NOMINATIONS TO REACH YOUR SECTION CHAIR IS 30 APRIL, 2011. The candidates are elected at the Paris meeting
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