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

December 2014#

Dear fellow members of the Academia Europaea, members of the Young Academy and guest readers,#

Can I first offer all of you my sincere best wishes and thanks for your continuing interest in the life of the AE and the YAE. I have now been President for 5 months and so, as we approach the seasonal holiday period, I would like to make a few important announcements and offer some specific thanks.

Firstly: Congratulations to our Honorary member Dr Rafał Dutkiewicz, who has very recently been re-elected as Mayor of Wroclaw for further four-year term. A significant achievement.

Secondly: I am pleased to announce that the agreement with the City of Wroclaw for support of our Knowledge Hub will be renewed for a further minimum period of two years. I would like to thank Dr Ola Nowak and Mrs Katarzyna Majkowska-Kołyszko who are responsible for the running of the Hub; for the planning and execution of an excellent series of events and initiatives. The Board has agreed to hold their Spring meeting in Wroclaw (March 19–20) and we will take the opportunity also to organise a one-day meeting of AE members, to include our members from the wider Visegrád region and other Central and Eastern European countries. The meeting will allow us to develop a regional activity programme and seek input on our new development strategy. We also hope to appoint a regional Hub advisory group based on AE members who actively participate in that meeting. Further details will be announced early in 2015.

Thirdly: Congratulations also go to our Barcelona Hub team for organising the second “Disputatio” event and a linked Mediterranean workshop. Information about the event can be found on the Barcelona Hub website http://barcelona.acadeuro.org/ . I would especially like to thank The United National University Institute on Globalisation, Culture and Mobility for hosting the “Disputatio” debate at the wonderful Sant Pau Art Nouveau site in central Barcelona and the Institut d’Estudis Catalans for hosting the Mediterranean symposium. My personal thanks to the Cosmo Caixa and the Catalunya regional government for their patronage. I would urge members to look at the Barcelona Hub webpages for future activity and also to contact them with ideas for events, or requests to hold meetings in the Hub facilities.

Fourthly, you should have seen the text of a recent AE submission concerning the proposed cuts to the Horizon 2020 budget. This has been received well. If you missed it you can read the text via the AE website. Our member Pieter Emmer also recently attended a Commission information event concerning the (lack) of input of the Social Sciences and Humanities community into plans for the research funding calls of H2020. This has stimulated our Humanities and Social Sciences Section chairs into action and by invitation from Section Chair Harm Pinkster, they are planning a meeting in February to discuss setting up a standing expert panel of the AE to better co-ordinate policy responses on these and other issues for the AE. I urge members of these sections to contact your section chairs and engage in this valuable initiative. Contact information for your Section chairs can be found at our website.

Now for two key announcements:#

Number 1. Proposed improvements to the nominations/election system for membership:

During 2013/14, my predecessor as President (Lars Walløe) and the Board set up a panel under the chairmanship of Ole Petersen, to review our Section structure, governance and especially the nominations process for electing new members of the AE in order to stimulate an increased engagement of the memership.

Our current Section structure and the nominations system are more or less as originally set up over 25 years ago. A review was therefore long overdue.

That group made a number of recommendations that were discussed in detail by the Section chairs (at a special meeting in Barcelona) and were agreed by Council. An announcement was made at the AGM of members.

The main recommendation was to create FOUR CLASSES, each with a class chair. Existing Sections will be grouped into one of these classes. The Board agreed in November to appoint four Trustees, as interim chairs for two years only.

The interim Class Chairs are: Anne Buttimer (Class chair for Sections A7 – A10 inclusive): Svend Erik Larsen (Class Chair for Sections A1 – A6 Inclusive); Don Dingwell (Class Chair for Sections B1 – B5 inclusive) and Ole Petersen (Class Chair for Sections C1 – C5 inclusive).

The intention, is that for 2015 Sections will continue as now, to peer review their candidates (with all using a common, harmonised ranking approach to create a Section priority list) and then to carry out a detailed comparative assessment and scrutiny of candidates across Sections within a Class meeting – the end result being a single class list of candidates for election.

The objective is that the new structure and approach should improve the rigour and the coherence of the assessment process and allow each class to adapt its Section structure to better reflect changes in fields and disciplines of scholarship, to respond to gender issues and issues of disciplinary and regional balance and bias, and critically to make sure that each class is electing the best scholars.

The plan is to allow a two-year ‘bed-in’ period for this system and after that, we will seek new Class chairs.

As far as you the members are concerned, the nominations procedure remains absolutely the same.

I would therefore remind all members that you can already nominate possible candidates for membership NOW via the AE website.

PLEASE NOTE, that the absolute closing date for online submission of nominations is 30 April 2015 and that no late submissions will be allowed.

The formal election of new members will be done in Darmstadt in early September and the 2015 cohort of new members will be invited and introduced in the traditional way.

This is a significant development with the specific intention to maintain the excellence of our membership and to allow the AE to respond to changes in academic scholarship in a dynamic way.

Number 2. Launch of the ‘2015 New Initiatives’ fund.#

I am pleased to announce that in January 2015, members of the AE and the YAE and Section committees will be able to submit short proposals to access grants from the new initiatives fund.

These small grants (of around 5K Euros max.) will be to facilitate delivery of new activities; to lever external sponsorship for larger activities, to secure the involvement of the AE and YAE in larger collaborative activities and to support beneficial collaborations with other organisations.

The full details will be published on the AE website and a more detailed announcement will be made in January.

The fund will be operated on an open call basis and proposals will be subject to a review process.

Last but not least: Please register for the Darmstadt 2015 Annual Conference, September 7 – 10, 2015. Full information can be accessed via the AE website http://www.ae2015.eu.

I think that is enough for 2014, and so once again my best wishes to all of you and I hope for an active 2015.

Sierd Cloetingh

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