Final ALLEA Board Meeting of 2015 held at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin

At its fourth and last meeting of the year the ALLEA Board came together in Dublin on the kind invitation of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) from December 7-8. At the meeting, the members of the Board discussed current and future activities as well as received an update on the latest developments concerning ALLEA’s involvement in the new Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM).

The attending members were welcomed to the Academy by Professor Mary E Daly, President of the RIA and member of the Irish government’s Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations. The first day of the meeting started with a recap by Professor Stock on ALLEA’s recent activities including the announcement of  a follow-up project to the “Survey and Analysis on Academies SSH research in Europe” which was published earlier this year. Further updates on the status of preparations for the 2016 General Assembly at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the 2016 Mme de Staël Prize for Cultural Values as well as the 2017 General Assembly to be held jointly with Academia Europaea at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences were also provided.

The Royal irish Academy

The Royal irish Academy

On December 8, the members of the Board reconvened to hear an update on the status of the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) as well as ALLEA’s participation in the SAM Horizon 2020 call in cooperation with a new consortium of European academy organisations.

The meeting concluded with an overview of upcoming events in the next year, starting with the first Board Meeting of 2016 in Bucharest. Following the conclusion of the Board meeting, the members of the Board held a joint meeting with the Chairs of the ALLEA Working Groups.

The Royal Irish Academy champions Irish academic research. One of its principal roles is to identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. It supports excellent scholarship and promotes awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives.

The Academy is an all-island independent forum that brings together the worlds of academia, government and industry, to address issues of mutual interest through major outreach events and legacy projects. Drawing on the expertise of its Members, the Academy makes a significant contribution to public debate and public policy formation on issues in science, technology and culture. The Academy leads important national research projects, particularly in areas relating to Ireland and its heritage. In addition, the Academy represents the world of Irish learning internationally, maintains and enhances a unique globally-recognised library and is a leading academic publisher.

Click here to read more.

19 Dawson Street

Phone: +353 1 676 2570
Fax: +353 1 676 23 46

Taking stock: The Integration of Social Sciences and Humanities in Horizon 2020

ALLEA participates in Meeting between DG Research and Stakeholders in SSH Research

On 2 December 2015, ALLEA participated in the second external stakeholder workshop on the Integration of Social Sciences and Humanities in Horizon 2020. The invitation-only workshop gathered a limited number of eminent experts from European and international scientific organisations active in the fields of social sciences and humanities as well as representatives from the European Commission, particularly from its Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. ALLEA was represented by Professor John Bell, Chair of the ALLEA Working Group on Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and Fellow of the British Academy.

The meeting followed up on a first workshop on “Embedding Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Horizon 2020” held in Brussels in November 2014. With these workshops, the Commission intends to receive feedback from various involved SSH stakeholders on how to further improve the integration of research in the social sciences and humanities in Horizon 2020. In 2014, participants were invited to provide feedback on the quality of the integration of SSH in the first calls of Horizon 2020. Furthermore, they provided feedback on how to further improve true interdisciplinarity in the calls, with the SSH as an integral part of the research projects to be funded. This year’s workshop focussed on a discussion around the recently published Commission Monitoring Report on the integration of Social Sciences and Humanities in Horizon 2020 in the first calls for proposals of Horizon 2020.

The invited members of the scientific community concluded that considerable progress had been made in improving the integration of SSH. However, several Societal Challenges would still benefit from further integration while other areas even show a worrisome lack of SSH input at all. In agreement with the Commission’s conclusion that more efforts and actions are still required for the SSH to become an integral part of the development process for new research questions, the stakeholders identified several areas of improvement to strengthen the role of SSH in Horizon 2020 calls. It was noted that experts with SSH expertise constituted only a minority within H2020 Expert Advisory Groups as well as among proposal evaluators. In addition, Societal Challenges that would naturally require a stronger inclusion of Humanities subjects too often show low levels of inclusion (SC 6&7). In terms of geographic distribution, the participants raised concerns that countries from Central and Eastern Europe still show very low participation rates and project coordination is most often awarded to countries with strong infrastructure to support the preparation of bids.

In its concluding remarks the Commission reaffirmed its plans to continue the publication of an annual monitoring report. In addition, the importance of deeper SSH inclusion in “Societal Challenges” was underlined and concrete actions were highlighted to improve the integration of SSH in Horizon 2020. The Commission committed to continuing the fruitful and constructive exchange with the SSH stakeholder community and announced that the next stakeholder meeting will be held in June 2016.

New ALLEA Statement “On the Status of the Patent System of the European Union” issued by PWG IPR

In June 2011, ALLEA via its Permanent Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issued a Statement on “The Future Patent System of the European Union” which supported the creation of a European patent with unitary effect and the renewal of the European Commission’s efforts to harmonise employee’s invention laws as well as provide for a grace period in order to facilitate implementation of the anticipated unitary EU patenting rules.

ALLEA’s newest statement prepared by the PWG IPR revisits these issues in light of recent developments regarding EU patent regulation on the basis of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC Agreement) signed by 25 Member States in February 2013 as well as the 2012 Unitary Patent Regulation and the 2012 Regulation on translation arrangements.

Thumbnail_Statement Patent SystemThe statement welcomes the introduction of these pieces of legislation “despite the fact that the three legal instruments constitute a complex and complicated compromise, which does not meet all the expectations and whose implementation into practice will have to overcome several hurdles”. It then proceeds to assess the difficulties and deficiencies that will arise in the course of their imminent implementation. For example, the Unitary Patent Regulation and the UPC Agreement reveal a problematic situation in which the validity of “unitary effect”-holding patents is dependent on the date of their respective Member State’s accession to the UPC Agreement.

Thus, the statement offers several recommendations for resolving these issues and emphasises that the coordination of Member States’ accession to the UPC Agreement is essential for avoiding inconsistencies and confusion related to the unitary effect of patents. Moreover, ALLEA via the PWG IPR reaffirms its commitment to supporting the introduction of the aforementioned grace period, which still remains unaddressed in the existing legislation.

This statement will be addressed to the relevant European authorities and national governments in an effort to concretely contribute to the continuing development of the European patent system.

Please click here to read the full statement.

ALLEA President delivers MacCormick European Lecture in Edinburgh

On 4 November 2015, ALLEA President Günter Stock delivered the annual MacCormick European Lecture at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on the kind invitation of RSE President Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. In his lecture, Professor Stock reflected upon the role of academies in the age of the Enlightenment, drawing a parallel to today’s contemporary academies and arguing that providing scientific advice can be viewed as a form of “modern enlightenment”. Ulti­mately, the mandate of academies remains to enlighten – by upholding and continuing this tradition of enabling the discovery and communication of scientific knowledge. The following text encapsulates the main themes of enlightenment and the academies as conveyed by Professor Stock in his lecture.

Academies were a result and at the same time an enormous driving force of and for the Enlightenment. And hence, academies like the RSE rightly consider themselves as enlightenment societies. The German writer Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach once said, “Who doesn’t know anything, has to believe everything,” a modern version of the phrase used by Immanuel Kant during the Enlightenment: sapere aude.

UK_Royal Society of Edinburgh

The Royal Society of Edinburgh

Through learning how to understand, interpret, and analyse our world we have created as Jürgen Mittelstraß calls it a Leonardo world. It is therefore obvious that our responsibility for the future of this – our – world is enormous. Whatever the outcomes of what we have achieved might be, they can only truly be mastered with more and better information, knowledge, and science in general, with more wisdom. In recent years, we have learned that the great challenges ahead of us such as climate, energy, health, and inequalities, to name only a few, can only be tackled or, to say more modestly, can only be approached if we are able to combine all of the current knowledge we have and make this knowledge available in a qualitative and timely fashion.

To allow for taking the appropriate measures and developing the means to respond to these challenges, quality assurance and interdisciplinarity of the highest possible standards are the first mandates which have to be brought forward by academia and hence by academies. In a world with ever increasing knowledge, universal geniuses – if they really existed once upon a time – to whom one could conceivably delegate issues and problems are no longer available. It is civil society that needs to understand, in principle, what is needed in order to properly decide upon and implement measures.

It is exactly this responsibility which has to be accepted – not exclusively, but to a great extent – by modern academies. First, they need to help society to develop the necessary mental attitude and then show society what options and alternatives are currently available based on scientific knowledge and judgment. We call this scientific advice or, more histrionically, modern enlightenment.

This enlightenment or science-based advice is of course a global endeavour, a national endeavour, and, even more so, a European task. Currently, a European academy consortium (Academia Europaea, ALLEA, EASAC, Euro-CASE, and FEAM) is preparing, together with the European Commission, a new mechanism for scientific advice (SAM), which will be an important contribution to the improvement of European political efficiency.

Last but not least, European academies have both a mandate and the obligation to preserve, interpret, and make available in the broadest possible sense the European cultural heritage and its relationship with the global cultural heritage. This indispensable task means that we must strive to underline and support what our predecessors have called the “soul” of Europe. Thus, the term enlightenment is neither outdated nor old-fashioned: it is the essence of modern academies.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland’s national academy. Founded in 1783, its Fellowship includes some of the best intellectual talent in academia, the professions and business. It facilitates public debate, research programmes, educational projects and strategy formulation. Its strength is its diversity and impartiality. The Society’s unique multi-disciplinary approach enables it to draw from and link with a broad spectrum of expertise to advance the understanding of globally-important issues. In fulfilling its Royal Charter for the ‘advancement of learning and useful knowledge’, the RSE is seeking to contribute to the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of Scotland.

22-26 George Street
Edinburgh, EH2 2PQ, Scotland
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 131 240 5000
Fax: +44 131 240 5024

Supplementary Statement on Open Access released by ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights

Recently, the ALLEA permanent working group on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) elaborated a new supplementary statement on the topic on open access. The Working Group has devoted much attention to this topic in the past two years, having published a Statement on Enhancement of Open Access to Scientific Publications in Europe in Europe as well as a Follow-up Statement on open access. After taking recent laws in the Netherlands and Germany into consideration, the working group has formulated the supplementary statement that can be accessed via the link below.

Supplementary Statement thumbnailIn its 2013 Statement on Enhancement of Open Access to Scientific Publications in Europe, ALLEA invited the European authorities to take measures to facilitate the transition to an Open Access (OA) model for publications in scientific journals. In their supplementary statement, the authors now encourage the European authorities to “advocate, or adopt a legislation on a copyright contract law provision allowing the authors of short scientific works resulting from a publicly-funded research to make their work available to the public free of charge following a reasonable period of time after the work was first published.” Thereby, the statement specifies, the deployment of the so-called Green OA model can be facilitated.

Both the Netherlands and Germany recently have adopted such provisions that give the scientific authors the right to make their article freely available despite any provision to the contrary in their contract with the publisher of the journal.

In the statement, the Working Group suggests that such authors’ rights should apply to articles, and not to books: “[I]t should be limited to short publications resulting from publicly- and in particular EU-funded research programs (not from private research); the free making available should happen after a reasonable period of time allowing the publisher to recoup its investment.”

Those provisions “do not create a new copyright exception […] but only affect the assignability of the economic rights of the authors”. This supplementary statement encourages European institutions concerned with the dissemination of scientific research to consider similar measures which could be adopted at European or national level and to devote more attention to the awareness of author rights in open access models.

Please click here to read the full statement.

AEMASE II Conference, Dakar

ALLEA participates in second AEMASE Conference in Senegal

The second African European Mediterranean Academies for Science Education (AEMASE) Conference (AEMASE) was held in Dakar, Senegal from the 12th to the 13th of October 2015 with the kind hospitality of the Académie des Sciences et Téchniques du Sénégal (ANSTS). ALLEA participated in the Conference via its Working Group on Science Education.

AEMASE is an intercontinental initiative of science academies in the geographical African-European-Mediterranean (AEM) area, a region that shares strong and ancient political and scientific links. At the origin of the idea of AEMASE lies the strong desire of several national Academies to help improve formal and informal science education (SE) as part of their mission. The partner institutions involved in this initiative are the French, Italian, Moroccan and Senegalese national Academies and the Egyptian Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

The same AEMASE partner institutions, which organised the 1st AEMASE Conference at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome in May 2014, have decided to hold alternating conferences in Europe and Africa. The second AEMASE Conference in October 2015 was therefore the logical continuation of the Rome Conference.

AEMASE_logoThe President of the Conference was Prof. Ahmadou Lamine Ndiaye, President of the ANSTS. The International Scientific Committee responsible for organising the conference is constituted by Co-Chairs Prof. Ahmadou Wague from the ANSTS and Prof. Giancarlo Vecchio, Chairperson of the  and representing the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. Further members include Prof. Odile Macchi (Académie des Sciences, France), Prof. Beno Csapo (Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Prof. Mostapha  Bousmina (Hassan II Académie des Sciences et Technologie, Morocco), Profs. Doudou Ba and Abdoulaye Samb (ANSTS), and Eng. Hoda El Mikaty (Bibliotheca Alexandrina).

The Conference was made possible thanks to the generous support of IAP, the ANSTS, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Académie des Sciences, the Hassan II Academie des Sciences et Technologie of Morocco, and ALLEA.

AEMASE II Conference-1The Conference gathered expert scientists on science education from many different countries including Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Tunisia, Italy, France, the UK, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Argentina and Sri Lanka. The Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) was represented by its Chair, Prof. Mostapha Bousmina, who also represented IAP. ALLEA was represented by the Chair of its Working Group on Science Education, Prof. Giancarlo Vecchio. The delegates discussed various topics related to Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE), Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Science–Based Citizenship (SBC).

The Conference was organised into six Sessions. On the first day following the Opening Ceremony, Session n° 2 was dedicated to “The Role of Science Education in Development and Global View on Science Education Programmes”, Session n° 3 was dedicated to “National and International Projects and Programmes in Science Education”, and Session n° 4 to “Methods, Materials and Resources for Teacher Training and School SE Experiments”. On the second day, Session n° 5 was dedicated to “Research in SE and Assessment Methods” and Session n° 6 to “E-learning and SE/WEB Connection between Schools”. Keynote speeches were given on the first day by Prof. Ahmadou Lamine Ndiaye, who spoke about science education in Africa, Prof. Odile Macchi, who discussed science education in Europe, and Prof. Norma Nudelman, whose speech focussed on science education in Latin America. On the second day, Prof. Faouzia Charfi gave a keynote lecture on “The Scientific Way of Thinking”.

The Conference was concluded in the afternoon of October 13th, when a full report on the Conference was prepared by the chairs, the moderators and the session reporters via a conclusive session in which the future of the AEMASE concept was discussed.
The Conference ended with the participants’ unanimous approval of the Dakar Declaration, which called on all countries in the AEM region to urgently implement and consolidate IBSE/STEM/SBC Education programmes and on Academies and Ministries of Education to re-elaborate science education programmes to include new ways of teaching and learning.

This report was kindly provided by ALLEA Working Group Science Education Chair Professor Giancarlo Vecchio.

ALLEA co-organises debate on “Inequalities in Europe” at the European Parliament in Brussels

On Tuesday, 15 September 2015, ALLEA participated in a debate on the cross-cutting topic of inequalities in Europe jointly organised with the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). The event took place in the EPRS Library Reading Room on the premises of the European Parliament.

The event began with an introductory address by the ALLEA President, after which a panel of experts from both academia and the European Parliament discussed various aspects of the topic of inequalities and highlighted key examples. After the panel discussion, a debate ensued with members of the European Parliament which allowed for further examination of how science can help the development of policies for tackling inequalities. This multifaceted topic encompasses such issues as income and wealth inequalities; employment, inequality and social policy; as well as health, regional, educational, democratic, environmental, and gender inequalities and other cross-cutting themes such as migration, identity or sustainability.

Poster_Inequalities_thumbnailInequalities are a profound research and policy challenge for the European Union. For example, the European Union’s 2020 Strategy includes a target to have at least 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion by 2020. The understanding of inequalities is also vital for many areas of research within Horizon 2020. To “reverse inequalities” is furthermore a named priority for the EU in the European Council’s “Strategic Agenda for the Union in Times of Change”.

In the wider context, the roundtable debate sought to explore how scientific perspectives, especially from the humanities and social sciences, can concretely contribute to developing effective approaches and solutions for major societal challenges such as inequalities. The debate on inequalities followed the successful first roundtable debate that focussed on demographic change, which was organised by ALLEA, the ESF and the EPRS in March 2015.

Please click here to download the full programme.

More information will soon be available on the EPRS blog.

ALLEA participates in JRC initiative “Science Meets Parliaments”

On 15 September 2015 in Brussels, leading European scientists exchanged perspectives with members of the European Parliament with the aim of promoting evidence-informed policymaking. The event offered panel sessions on numerous aspects of this topic as well as networking opportunities and bilateral meetings between scientists and Parliamentarians. ALLEA was actively engaged at the event with the ALLEA President participating in a high-level panel session and several experts nominated by ALLEA taking part in the bilateral meetings.

Science Meets Parliaments_programmeThe opening session invited high-level panelists (including Commissioners Tibor Navracsics and Carlos Moedas as well as European Parliament Vice-President Mairead McGuiness and MEP Jerzy Buzek, who chairs the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy) to discuss what EU policymakers expect and need from scientists and how existing communication channels between the two communities can be improved. The panel was followed by a session on the collaboration between Parliamentarians and scientists on the national level.

ALLEA President Günter Stock took part in the next scheduled high-level panel focussing on the perspectives of scientific organisations in response to the expectations of EU and national policymakers. Other panelists included representatives from the fellow European academy organisations EASAC and Euro-CASE. The session was moderated by Vladimir Šucha, Director-General of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and was followed by a wrap-up session as well as a presentation of the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme 2015.

In the afternoon, two parallel sessions took place, the first being a panel on best practices of scientific advice at national level. The other session consisted of bilateral meetings between scientists and parliamentarians to further discuss how to strengthen the connection between scientific advice and informed policymaking. Several scientists nominated by ALLEA on behalf of its Member Academies were invited to take part in this session and discussed issues such as “Plant protection and biocides regulation” and “Circular economy and resource efficiency” in face-to-face meetings with MEPs.

“Science Meets Parliaments” was co-organised by the JRC and the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) in an effort to promote evidence-informed policymaking. “It is important that EU policy-makers have a regular exchange with scientists allowing them to better understand scientists’ views on policy issues and vice versa,” stated STOA on its website.

Please click here to download the programme.