PERITIA Lectures on Trust in an Age of Disinformation

The EU-funded project PERITIA is about to start the second part of its lectures series [Un]Truths: Trust in an Age of Disinformation. Hosted by the UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life and the American University of Armenia, the series explores the concept of trust and truth in light of current events. The lectures start on 21 September and will run every second Tuesday, until November 2021. Registration is open.

Prominent philosophers and academics from across the globe will come together to present their latest research on trust in science, disinformation, vaccine hesitancy, conspiracy theories, trustworthy science, truth and democracy, and trust and cognitive science. Speakers include Åsa Wikforss (Stockholm University), Maya J. Goldenberg (University of Guelph), Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol), Philip Kitcher (Columbia University), and Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard University).

The lectures are open to all upon registration via Zoom and moderated by science communicator Shane Bergin. Participants are invited to join an interactive Q&A debate after each lecture. Reading materials are available for academic purposes on this page. You can rewatch and learn more on the first part of the series.

From Knowledge Resistance to Climate Action

This season will bring together a new interdisciplinary group of experts working on current issues including climate action, disinformation and science denial, among others. Philosopher Åsa Wikforss, from Stockholm University, will inaugurate the series with the question “What is knowledge resistance?”.

Maya J. Goldenberg (University of Guelph) will continue with a revision of the common misunderstanding on the question of vaccines communication and the public understanding of trust in science.

Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol) will focus on online misinformation and its risks for democracy while discussing available solutions to this threat.

Philip Kitcher (Columbia University) will join us as part of this lecture series and the Berlin Science Week. His lecture will delve into a quintessential question for today’s society: Why is Climate Action so hard?

About the Series

The PERITIA Lectures have been running since April 2021 and brought together over 1000 online attendees who participated in the interactive lectures and Q&As with academics such as Noemi Oreskes (Harvard University), Quassim Cassam (Warwick University), Michael Lynch (University of Connecticut), Heather Douglas (Michigan State University) and Dan Sperber (Institut Jean Nicod). The recordings are available on PERITIA’s YouTube channel.

ALLEA is part of the PERITIA consortium, contributing to the cooperation, communications and dissemination of their activites, as well as connecting its research with a wide network of experts and stakeholders across Europe. The project brings together 11 international partners to investigate public trust in expertise with a multi-disciplinary approach.

Go to Registration page.

 

Law, Human Rights & Climate Change: A Conversation with Helen Keller

Professor Helen Keller is a renowned lawyer, international judge, and professor of law, and she is the 2021 Madame de Staël Prize laureate. She was chosen as the 2021 laureate on account of her contribution to the development and consolidation of human rights jurisprudence in Europe as well as her commitment to fundamental rights. 

Professor Keller is Chair for Public Law, European and Public International Law at the University of Zurich. She is a former member of the UN Human Rights Committee and served as Judge at the European Court of Human Rights between 2011-2020. In December 2020, she was appointed Judge to the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina. We are privileged to have the opportunity to sit with Professor Keller and ask her some questions about her academic and jurist career.

 

“There are two big themes that have always interested me in my research: one is the question of how to engage the law in the protection of certain groups or interests. The second deals with the clash of different legal masses.”

 

Question: Professor Keller, what does winning the 2021 Madame de Staël Prize mean to you?

Helen Keller: I am honored and humbled, indeed. It is wonderful that my efforts in research, but also as a judge, for a strong and peaceful Europe are taken note of. This gives me strength to continue workingOf course, the prize also goes to the University of Zurich, which has always generously supported me in my involvement with the UN or the European Court of Human Rights. 

Finally, the prize comes at a special time for Swiss research in general: because the Swiss government has broken off negotiations on a framework agreement with the EU, access for Swiss researchers in Europe is restricted. So this prize comes at just the right time: It should show the academics in Switzerland that we should nevertheless continue to work on European topics and that our voice is and can be heard in Europe.

 

Q.: Your work has focused on such diverse areas of jurisprudence; you have written extensively on issues pertaining to federal as well international law, and on topics ranging from the death penalty to environmental law. What would you say are your main areas of academic interest and why?

H.K.: There are two big themes that have always interested me in my research. One is the question of how to encourage and engage the law in the protection of certain groups or interests that are a priori badly protected. This concerns the research topics that revolve around human rights and environmental protection. The second theme deals with the clash of different legal masses, be it international law on national law or soft law on hard law. I have examined how courts deal with these situations.

 

As a researcher, I always thought that the courts would write a judgment as if it were a scientific essay. But when you take part in deliberations, you see that the passing of a judgment is a process influenced by various opinions.”

 

Q.: Since the early 2000s you established yourself as a scholar of law, serving as visiting scholar at various academic institutions. Additionally, you have served as judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) from 2011 to 2020 and you now serve as judge at the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina. How has this interplay between theory and practice throughout your career impacted your work and your mindset as a scholar and as a judge? 

H.K.: Once you have sat on a bench, you certainly read judgments differently. As a researcher, I always thought that the courts would write a judgment as if it were a scientific essay, that the text would be a unified whole. But when you take part in deliberations, you see that the passing of a judgment is a process influenced by various opinions. Often compromises need to be made in order to win over enough judges for the majority. Sometimes compromises are made that are not always advantageous for the coherence of the text. When I go over judgements today, I recognise these fractures and I will try to pass on this knowledge to my students.

 

Q.: What are the greatest achievements of the ECtHR that come to mind from your time as judge there? Any particular court cases that stuck with you throughout the years? 

H.K.: The Court fulfills a very important task: it repeatedly reminds the 47 states of their obligations to protect human rights and democracy. The Court has to do this in a very difficult environment, as there are many states with unstable democratic structures that regularly trample on basic human rights.  

One case that has forever tainted my memory is El-Masri v. Northern Macedonia. The complainant in this case had the misfortune of having a very similar name to a man who was directly involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. That is why the Macedonian security forces mistakenly arrested him at the behest of the CIA and then handed him over to the CIA. He was later forcibly transferred to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was tortured for several months. In this judgement, the Court ruled in favour of the complainant, addressing for the first time the secret renditions and the secret prisons in Europe after 9/11. This was a taboo-breaking case, which was very important for the upholding of human rights in Europe. 

 

Intersecting Law & Climate Change

 

“Climate change is where my two research topics come together. On the one hand, there is the question of how we can better protect the environment against exploitation; on the other hand, different bodies of law collide and need to be harmonized.”

 

Q.: Climate change is a multifactorial problem that has far-reaching consequences in different aspects of human life. In a broad sense, how is the field of law and the different judicial systems in Europe being impacted by climate change?

H.K.: Climate change is where my two research topics that I mentioned earlier come together. On the one hand, there is the question of how we can better protect the environment, the ecosystem and the climate, which we have used more or less for free for so many centuries, against exploitation. On the other hand, different bodies of law collide and need to be consolidated/harmonized: international and national law, hard law and soft law (e.g. voluntary commitments by companies) and administrative law and human rights.

 

Q.: What is the link between climate change and human rights? In a recent article you say that, when dealing with cases related to climate change, courts must be careful not to behave like activists, as this could jeopardize the legitimacy and reputation of a court. Why is this?

H.K.: We face a major gap in international law to combat global warming. Although there are more or less binding requirements for states to reduce CO2 emissions, we do not have an international body that would review violations of these obligations. This is where human rights come into play. In various countries, individuals file lawsuits against states (sometimes also against large international corporations such as Shell), claiming that their human rights have been violated because the state has done too little to combat global warming. This is the link between global warming and human rights. Because the latter are secured regionally and internationally by various judicial bodies (such as the Inter-American Court of Justice, the ECtHR, the Human Rights Council etc.), these people hope to succeed in the fight against global warming.

However, courts have to be careful. If judges want to force something that society is not ready for, courts risk having their legitimacy questioned. That ultimately also means that their judgement will then not be accepted and implemented.

 

“Climate disputes exist all over the world. We often focus on North America and Europe, but a lot is happening in Asia and Africa in this area. I think we can learn from each other.”

 

Q.: The number of lawsuits linked to climate change has grown exponentially in the last years. For instance, on 29 April 2021, the German Federal Constitutional Court, following a complaint brought by young climate activists, held the 2019 German Federal Climate Change Act as partially unconstitutional. What do you think about this decision? 

H.K.: I consider the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court to be courageous and forward-looking, in the truest sense of the word. After all, the Federal Constitutional Court not only looked at the current situation for the climate and for the young applicants but said that it is important for politics to keep an eye on a period that goes beyond the current generation. Here we are facing an important problem in legal dogmatics: how do we protect the concerns and rights of future generations? The Federal Constitutional Court’s statement that politics must still enable these young complainants to have a life worth living in around 30 years’ time and beyond is an important step in the right direction. 

 

Q.: What can your research with the Climate Rights and Remedy Project at the University of Zurich tell us about such cases?

H.K.: The first phase is to show that these climate disputes exist all over the world. We often focus on North America and Europe, but a lot is happening in Asia and Africa in this area. I think we can learn from each other. 

Web portal of the Climate Rights and Remedies Project coordinated by Prof. Helen Keller at the University of Zurich

In a second phase, we will focus more on the content of the cases: How do the courts deal with questions of admissibility that arise in these climate lawsuits in a very specific and new way, e.g. who can look after the interests of future generations? How do the judges deal with the great technicality of the questions and the scientific data situation? And finally, what impact do these judgments have on improving the environmental situation in reality? 

The 2021 Madame de Staël Prize Lecture will take place on 6 November 2021 in a hybrid event during the Berlin Science Week, where Professor Keller will accept the award and deliver a lecture pertaining to her research. If you wish to attend this event please register here, and subscribe to our newsletter for future updates.

ALLEA Participates in Workshop on the Future of ERA Governance

On 2 September, ALLEA participated in a workshop on the future governance of the European Research Area (ERA) organised by the Permanent Representation of Slovenia to the EU in Brussels. The event is part of the programme of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The workshop addressed the ongoing policy discussions on the future framework of the ERA, the flagship policy of the European Commission to create a “single, borderless market for research, innovation and technology across the EU”.

ALLEA was represented by its Board member Maarten Prak (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, KNAW) and member of the Horizon Europe Working Group. The workshop was attended by a variety of stakeholders representing the Research and Innovation community.

The workshop addressed the options of an expanded policy framework of the ERA and the redesign of its multi-level governance, including in particular the reinforced involvement and dialogue of reasearch stakeholders with policymakers.

A New ERA

In 2020, the European Commission published a Communication to set up new priorities and to tackle new challenges for research in Europe. Its ambition is to revitalise the project and transform it to match generational changes and to draw on the lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

The foundations for a new ERA are being laid with the Pact for Research and Innovation. On 16 July, the European Commission adopted its proposal for a Council Recommendation on “A Pact for Research and Innovation in Europe” to support the implementation of national European Research Area (ERA) policies.

ALLEA is contributing to these policy developments through its long-standing network of experts on research policy. In August 2020, ALLEA submitted a response to the European Commission’s public consultation on the future of the ERA. Our federation has supported and offered advice on the construction and shaping of the ERA since its beginnings.

Job Offer: Digital Communications Officer at SAPEA

SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) is currently seeking a

 

Digital Communications Officer

 

to join its team in Brussels as soon as possible on a part-time basis (0.6 FTE) for an initially fixed-term until the end of the current SAPEA project on 30 April 2022. It is expect that the contract will be up for renewal beyond that date, subject to funding from the European Commission.

  • Start date: As soon as possible in autumn 2021.
  • End date: In the first instance, the contract is fixed-term until the end of the current SAPEA project on 30 April 2022. We expect that it will be possible to renew the contract beyond that date, but this is subject to renewed mandate and funding from the European Commission.
  • Location: The SAPEA office is in central Brussels. At present, our team is working flexibly between the office and home; similar arrangements will be discussed with the successful candidate.
  • Type of contract: The contract will be in accordance with Belgian labour regulations.
  • Leave allowance: ALLEA offers a generous extra-legal leave allowance (applied pro rata to this post) in addition to the Belgian annual leave allowance.
  • Salary: The monthly basic gross salary during this employment term will be in the range of 2200€–2500€ (for 1.0 FTE, calculated pro rata for 0.6 FTE), corresponding to the candidate’s level of experience. Common net benefits and additional remunerations are provided according to Belgian employment practice.

 

About the role

SAPEA is seeking to strongly increase the scope and impact of our digital communications, to promote a wider understanding of our activities, support our events, and lead conversations about science and policy in a wide range of public and stakeholder audiences. The Digital Communications Officer will play a key role in proposing and creating attractive content for all our current channels (website, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, email newsletter, event streaming, podcast).

We are especially keen to support the Digital Communications Officer in developing innovative channels and methods of communication to reach new target audiences. We anticipate that this may include less ‘traditional’ social media platforms and apps. In general, we are seeking someone with creative and unexpected ideas, who can think outside the constraints of a ‘traditional’ public sector or academic communications role, while maintaining a laser-sharp focus on reaching the audiences which are relevant to our overall strategic objectives, and on maintaining the high quality of all our public outputs.

As a small team, we also expect all colleagues to pull their weight in the general activities of the communications team. In particular, we are planning a major public event in spring 2022 and we expect that this will be an important focus of work for the whole team starting in the autumn of 2021.

 

Responsibilities and tasks

As Digital Communications Officer, your responsibilities and tasks will include:

  • Contribute and publish regular, lively content across SAPEA’s digital communications channels.
  • Propose, develop, execute and monitor social media campaigns to support our activities and messages, including social media advertising, graphics and short videos.
  • Propose, develop and maintain innovative forms of digital communication to reach new target audiences.
  • Propose, contribute and develop lively content for the websites developed by SAPEA.
  • Propose, develop and collect data to demonstrate the impact of our digital communications activities, including for the purposes of continuous evaluation and improvement.
  • Engage in active horizon-scanning, especially on social media, to alert colleagues to current and upcoming opportunities for effective communication.
  • Regularly update your own awareness and skills regarding the latest digital communication idioms, platforms, tools and software, and provide guidance to colleagues in these.
  • As required, contribute more broadly to communications and public engagement activities in a range of formats.
  • Assist with the general smooth running of the SAPEA communications team.

 

Personal profile

Essential skills, knowledge and experience:

  • 1–2 years of relevant professional experience.
  • A Bachelor’s degree in a relevant area.
  • Experience of managing a website using WordPress or another common CMS.
  • Experience of managing an organisation’s social media activities.
  • Excellent oral and written proficiency in English, including clear and confident communication skills.
  • Experience in writing and developing content in styles and formats appropriate to websites and other digital media, including graphics and short videos.
  • Creative and artistic flair.
  • Flexibility and adaptability to build strong working relationships with colleagues, including in the absence of strict lines of accountability between different parts of the organisation (e.g. in a consortium of independent organisations).
  • Interest in and commitment to the importance of scientific evidence in policymaking.

Additional desirable skills, knowledge and experience:

  • Experience or demonstrated interest in science communication, public policy, EU politics or public engagement work.
  • Experience of working in a scientific or academic institution.
  • Experience of working in a small, flexible team or an informally-structured organisation.
  • Knowledge of another EU language (besides English).
  • A broad understanding of policymaking processes at European level.
  • Technical skills in one or more of the following: video editing (e.g. Premiere Pro); audio editing (e.g. Audition), graphics editing (e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator); page layout (e.g. InDesign); coding for the web (e.g. HTML); web streaming (e.g. Streamyard, YouTube); mobile apps.
  • Experience in implementing and monitoring paid social media campaigns.

Because of the nature of this role, we anticipate that the right candidate might have a more unorthodox background or range of experiences than would be expected for other roles in academic or public policy communications. For this reason, if you believe your skills and experience would make you an excellent candidate for this post, but you are not able to meet all of the above requirements, we would still welcome an application from you.

We are open to applications from candidates proposing flexible working arrangements such as job-shares and hybrid home/office working.

 

How to apply

To apply, please send your CV, motivation letter and further application documents and/or references to recruitment@allea.org (pdf documents, not larger than 2 MB) by 08:00 CEST on Monday 20 September 2021.

Interviews are expected to take place in Brussels on 28 September. Reasonable travel expenses can be reimbursed. We will also consider an online interview process.

We apply an equal opportunities policy. We accept applications without distinction on the grounds of sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation. Please let us know in your application if you require any adaptations to the interview process because of a disability or other circumstances.

 

More information available on the SAPEA website here.

Refrain from Creating New IP Rights for Machine-Generated Data, ALLEA Asks EU Institutions

ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, urges the European Commission and other EU institutions to refrain from introducing any new Intellectual Property (IP) right that would protect “machine-generated data”. Regulations should ensure unfettered access to data that is essential to many fields of science.

In a new statement responding to the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the Data Act, ALLEA objects to the proposal of a “data producer’s right” envisaged in the European Commission’s communication “Building a European Data Economy”.

In many scientific fields, including astronomy, biology and geology, scientific data are commonly, and increasingly, generated with the aid of highly advanced digital means and equipment. The statement recalls the principles of Open Science and underlines the vital role of access to data for scientific progress.

“We strongly object to the extension of the existing sui generis database right to embrace machine-generated data. (…) Creating IP rights in such machine-generated data would severely impede freedom of science and bear the risk of creating unwanted monopolies in scientific data sets”, the Federation says.

The authors consider that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the importance of facilitating access to data and data sets held by private or public bodies in favour of scientific progress and the public interest at large.

“Scientists and academic research institutions should therefore be able to fully benefit from current and future data sharing governance structures in the EU”, they argue.

The statement was prepared by the ALLEA Permanent Working Group Intellectual Property Rights (PWGIPR), which assembles legal scholars and IPR experts from across Europe. Since the 1990, the group has prepared and issued reflections, declarations, and recommendations on the most challenging topics of IPR for research and society.

Read the statement

ALLEA Endorses Statement Calling for Action to Help Researchers in Afghanistan

ALLEA has endorsed a statement by Scholars at Risk Europe calling on European Governments and EU Institutions to help scholars, researchers, and civil society organisations in Afghanistan. The joint call urges to secure their lives and careers and proposes some concrete recommendations to take action.

The appeal has been supported by 50 higher education organisations across Europe. Specifically, the signatories seek immediate action from European Governments and EU institutions to:

  • Continue evacuation flights for as long as possible so as to include scholars, students, and civil society actors who have supported the forward-looking, pluralist vision of Afghanistan that the EU, European governments, NATO partners and other international and civil society organisations embraced. Do not end flights until all are safely outwho wish to leave the country.
  • Increase resettlement quotas to help those in need of international protection, including researchers, scholars, and civil society actors. Ensure international protection is provided to current Afghan protection applicants through an expedited process, and prioritise and expedite family reunification applications.
  • Create expedited complementary legal pathways for candidates who demonstrate an existing host institution, job, or sponsor, including for families, that would facilitate their arrival and earliest adjustment. Many European higher education institutions are ready to host scholars in temporary positions; capture that opportunity by expediting the processing of individuals for whom they are ready to step forward, and providing logistical support.
  • Waive any intent-to-return and home residency requirements that may apply to visa applications for Afghan scholars and researchers for the foreseeable future. Barring full waiver, issue authoritative guidance to consular and border officials supporting a determination of satisfaction of the intent to return by showing a willingness to return in the absence of the Taliban, or a credible, durable and rebuttable demonstration that the individual would be able to return and live safely under the Taliban.
  • Establish a dedicated EU fellowship scheme for researchers and scholars at risk, including scholars, students, and civil society actors from Afghanistan, especially women and ethnic and religious minorities, to undertake fellowships, lectureships, researcher positions, or temporary academic positions at European higher education institutions. See the EU-funded Inspireurope project recommendation for a dedicated scheme here. Some funds for such streams might be redirected from existing funds budgeted for Afghanistan programming, but which may not be possible to expend under the current conditions. Nevertheless, new funds will be required to meet the most urgent needs.
  • Establish dedicated national fellowships for researchers and scholars at risk, including scholars, students, and civil society actors from Afghanistan, similar to existing national fellowship programmes run by the PAUSE programme in France and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Philipp Schwartz Initiative in Germany.

You can read the full statement hereScholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 500 higher education institutions in 40 countries, including over 350 in Europe, whose core mission is to protect threatened scholars and intellectuals. The organisation is inviting higher education institutions willing to host at-risk individuals from Afghanistan to complete a survey here.

For further information on ALLEA’s activities on academic freedom, you can read our dedicated website page.

Nature Medicine Comment on International Health Data Transfer Published

The lead authors of the ALLEA, FEAM and EASAC report ‘International Sharing of Personal Health Data for Research’ published a Comment in the journal Nature Medicine on 2 August. The piece summarises the key takeaways of the joint report, including an assessment of the legal challenges in sharing personal health data with researchers outside the EU/European Economic Area (EEA).

The text highlights that “COVID-19 has shown that international collaborations and global data sharing are essential for health research, but legal obstacles are preventing data sharing for non–pandemic-related research among public researchers across the world, with potentially damaging effects for citizens and patients.”

According to the authors, “over the past two years, it has become apparent that challenges emerge for the sharing of data with public-sector researchers in a majority of countries outside of the EEA, as only a few decisions stating that a country offers an adequate level of data protection have so far been issued by the European Commission. This is a problem, for example, with researchers at federal research institutions in the United States. Transfers to international organizations such as the World Health Organization are similarly affected. Because these obstacles ultimately affect patients as beneficiaries of research, solutions are urgently needed.”

The Comment is based on the joint report which was driven by discussions between experts from across Europe, who were nominated by member academies of ALLEA, EASAC, and FEAM and acted in an individual capacity, bringing together all relevant disciplines and expertise for this topic of great shared importance for all.

The authors of the Comment are Heidi Beate Bentzen, Rosa Castro, Robin Fears, George Griffin, Volker ter Meulen and Giske Ursin. The full comment can be read here. The joint report, information about the project and an interview with Robin Fears (EASAC) on the topic are also accessible on the ALLEA website.

Videos and Illustrations of Science Communication Conference Available

ALLEA and the German science communication organisation Wissenschaft im Dialog organised an international conference on the Future of Science Communication last June. Videos and graphic recordings of the sessions are now available.

Funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research, the event brought together different approaches from research and practice to science communication. Experts debated the trade-offs and latest developments of this field in an age of great transformations and crises where science plays a defining role.

Climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, disinformation, target audiences, citizen science or science advice were some of the guiding themes of two days of keynotes, debates, workshops, lighting talks, and a virtual poster exhibition. A closing panel discussion invited leading experts to provide their advice on how to shape the future of the field.

More than 1000 registered participants attended the conference and provided an impetus for stronger networking and further transfer of activities from research to practice and viceversa. Most of the sessions were recorded via Zoom and recorded graphically by illustrator Lorna Schütte.

 

Further documentation will be available in the coming months, but in the meantime you can already read a summary with some take-home messages of the conference, as well as reports on the Day 1 and Day 2 of the event published on the German science communication portal wissenschaftskommunikation.de.

Job Offer: Communications Student Assistant

ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, is currently seeking a 

  

Communications Student Assistant 

 

to join its team in Berlin as soon as possible for initially twelve months, with possibility of renewal, and with a weekly average workload of 19.5 hours. The hourly remuneration before tax is 12.68€, in accordance with the Tarifvertrag für studentische Beschäftigte (TV Stud III), Berlin.  

 

Your role 

You will work closely with other staff members to support the effective communication of our projects and activities, and to further strengthen the visibility of ALLEA in the scientific and policy community throughout Europe and beyond.  You will be supporting the day-to-day management of a communications office in an international network. 

Main tasks and responsibilities: 

Regular support of ALLEA’s communication activities 

  • Assist the communications team in drafting website posts and press releases, and in the day-to-day management of social media channels and blog, particularly on Twitter and ALLEA’s blog (see ALLEA Digital Salon). 
  • Help prepare, edit, proofread, and layout ALLEA newsletters, publications, leaflets, etc.  
  • Support the team with preparation, execution, and follow-up of digital, hybrid or in-person public events as well as working group and committee meetings. 
  • Support in establishing and maintaining media contact databases, creating stakeholder outreach lists, and designing strategies to communicate ALLEA’s work. 
  • Media monitoring, project administration and general office tasks are also part of this role. 

Requirements: 

  • Be a graduate student enrolled in a university programme for at least 12 months after starting the ALLEA position, preferably in a communications-related field (communications or media studies, journalism, marketing, etc.), or in other social science fields (international relations, sociology, political science, etc.) with a strong interest in communications. 
  • Have an excellent command of English in speaking and writing; other language skills are an asset. 
  • Have advanced computer skills, particularly MS Office (Word, Excel, Power Point), first experiences with MS Office 365 and/or Zoom an asset. 
  • Ideally have experience with WordPress and Adobe InDesign (experience with Photoshop and Premiere are also valuable) or be very motivated to learn the technical aspects of these programmes. 
  • Have very good organisational skills, hands-on approach, and a keen eye for detail; ability to work independently and in a team; flexibility to work in an office setting or remotely as needed. 
  • Have an interest in the areas of expertise of ALLEA (international relations, public policy, scientific collaboration, science communications, research policy, scientific advice to policymaking, etc.)  

 

Why join us 

ALLEA is the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, representing more than 50 academies from over 40 EU and non-EU countries. ALLEA operates at the interface of science, policy and society and speaks out on behalf of its members to promote science as a global public good. 

You will be part of a multi-cultural, young, and dynamic team working at the centre of Berlin and help ALLEA reach international stakeholders on societally relevant scientific topics. This position offers the flexibility of combining working in the office and remotely. As a not-for-profit organisation, our working environment is informal and collegial, and our team shares a dedication to work for a common greater good. ALLEA is an equal opportunity employer. For more information about us, please visit www.allea.org and/or follow us on Twitter @ALLEA_academies. 

 

How to apply 

If you are interested, please submit your digital application with a cover letter, CV, and relevant certificates as one single PDF document (3 MB max.) to recruitment@allea.org by 15 August 2021. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interviews in the following week. 

New Reports on EU Genome Editing Policy for Agriculture Presented

On 22 July 2021, Re-Imagine Europa (RIE), together with knowledge partners ALLEA and EU-SAGEpresented two reports on innovation in agriculture in a virtual event. The publications look into existing narratives concerning the role of genome editing for crop improvement and potential ramifications for European policy.

 

At the event, titled Beyond the Apple of Discord: Changing our Agri Culture’, science-policy stakeholders discussed the future of new breeding techniques, such as genome editing in crops, in moving towards sustainable European agriculture systems and in addressing climate and environmental-related challenges. Keynote speakers of the event included  Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture; Norbert Lins, Member of the European Parliament; and UrsNiggli, President of agroecology.science. The event was chaired by Professor Louise Fresco, President of the Wageningen University.

 

Invited speakers: Professor Louise Fresco, Wageningen University (top left); MEP Norbert Lins, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (top right); EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski (bottom left); Urs Niggli, President of agroecology.science (bottom right).

 

The RIE-led Task Force on Sustainable Agriculture and Innovation aims to better understand the emotions and values behind different perspectives and to see if, with ambitious European climate, sustainability, and biodiversity goals as clear priorities, it is possible to find positive pathways forward.

During the event, the task force presented two reports that look at what we can learn from existing narratives and the potential implications for policy actions. For a short description of the task force and a summary of the reports, see “Overview of the Reports on Sustainable Agriculture and Innovation. 

In the first report, “Beyond the Apple of Discord: Existing Narratives and Ways Forward”, the task force focuses on how different stories, symbols, images, and metaphors are used to inform the debate on the future of European agriculture. The report specifically describes the role of these emotions and narratives in framing the way we think about using genome editing for crop improvement. 

As stated by Prof. Louise Fresco, “Rather than focusing on the ‘apple of discord’ we should address the ‘apples of confusion’; there is a lot of common ground, but we must identify and address where the confusion lies.” 

 

 

The second report, “White Paper on the Regulation of Genome Editing in Agriculture” aims to describe the attributes of an ideal regulatory system that balances the need for embracing innovation in agriculture, such as new genomic techniques, whilst ensuring protection of human health, the environment, and biodiversity. The report also presents five policy options to be considered in the upcoming debate on genome editing between the Council, the European Parliament, and relevant stakeholders.  

In his opening remarks, Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture, reassured that “For us it is crystal clear that any policy decision should protect human and environmental health. Making European Food Systems sustainable and resilient is one of our key objectives.” 

 

 

The task force is currently planning a follow-up meeting to be held in the European Parliament in Brussels in October/November 2021 (date and time to be announced and depending on Covid restrictions). This meeting will consider, amongst other things, how to further develop a shared vision for sustainable European agriculture systems and which policy options should be further pursued to achieve these goals.