Scientists are entitled to human rights – but people also have a right to scientific progress and its applications. On 22 May, an international conference in Berne addresses «The Human Right to Science» by using the example of seed science and seed policy. Keynote speaker is Farida Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur of the UN in the Field of Cultural Rights. Programme Registration
Der Lebensstil westlicher Gesellschaften ist zu einem Problem geworden, das auf der gesellschaftlichen, politischen und wirtschaftlichen Ebene gelöst werden muss. Was die Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften zur nachhaltigen Ressourcennutzung beitragen können, war in Basel Thema einer Tagung der Akademien der Wissenschaften Schweiz. Medienmitteilung (pdf) Website zur Tagung
At Swiss universities and clinical institutes, arts scholars and social scientists carry out many interdisciplinary research projects together with health professionals. In order to strengthen the transfer of research results, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences have launched a «Call for paper».
The first prize of the call 2014 was awarded to an article on interdisciplinary approaches to the treatment of elderly patients suffering from cancer, published last week in the Swiss Medical Journal.
The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences are the largest scientific network in Switzerland. In order to further promote the interdisciplinary collaboration and the dialogue between science and society, SCNAT, SAHS, SAMS and Science et Cité are moving to a new location at Laupenstrasse 7 in Bern. We are looking forward to seeing you at the House of Academies. There are still four offices available for rental on the premises with a capacity of 16 workstations. For more information see the announcement (pdf, in German)
The «MINT Switzerland» federal programme, endowed with 1,5 million Swiss francs, promotes projects and initiatives within the framework of MINT competencies in Switzerland (MINT stands for Mathematics, Information technology, Natural sciences and Technology). Overall, 158 project applications with a total of 13 million Swiss francs have been submitted to the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. After a multi-stage evaluation process, 28 projects were selected for funding. List of funded projects
What can we know? And do we want to know everything we can know? The new issue of the research magazine «Horizons» addresses the limits of knowledge and the ethical boundaries of research. Further articles report about tsunamis in Lake Geneva or the university as stage of the upper and middle classes, and Pius Knüsel writes: «Most of the scientific communication is propaganda. It's not allowed to talk about failure, only about success. But where criticism and objectivity are lacking, trust is eroding first.» Website Horizons
100 years ago researchers established the Swiss National Park in the Engadin. In the book «Wissen schaffen – 100 Jahre Forschung im Schweizerischen Nationalpark», the research commission now summarised what findings research gained in this globally unique open-air laboratory. Clearly visible, for instance, are the changes due to climate change: Thermophilic species have become more common, and many animal species have moved their habitats up the mountain by 100 to 500 metres of altitude. Book website Press release (pdf, in German)
The Ecopop initiative aims at reducing population growth by drastically restricting immigration to Switzerland. With the adoption of the initiative, research in the Swiss industry and at universities would no longer be possible at current level, as it is highly dependent on the exchange of personnel with other countries. As a consequence, Switzerland would no longer be prepared for the economic, social, medical and environmental challenges of the future. The Board of Directors of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences therefore recommends the rejection of the initiative. Press release (pdf, in German and French)
The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences are launching a website documenting the progress towards a sustainable healthcare system for Switzerland. With the blog carrying the same name the Academies offer a platform to discuss latest developments with experts. www.roadmap-gesundheitssystem.ch
The goal of a sustainable and high quality healthcare is at risk. It is therefore all the more important to determine which core contents of medicine should not be jeopardised. A new position paper points out how physicians and health professionals can constructively and effectively support the sustainability of a high quality and patient-centred healthcare in Switzerland. Further information
The implementation of the energy strategy shall correspond with the aims of air pollution control, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences write in a new Factsheet. While the combustion of wood in micro-cogeneration units has a positive effect on climate, this results in high fine dust emissions. Yet, air pollution control generally is well compatible with climate protection and energy strategy, because greenhouse gases and air pollutants usually originate from the same sources. Download the Factsheet (pdf, in German; in French) Media release (pdf, in German; in French)
The state of biodiversity will continue to deteriorate according to the 4th Global Biodiversity Outlook report published on Monday. This also applies to Switzerland. An effective implementation of the Strategy Biodiversity Switzerland, whose action plan is in preparation, remains key therefore, says Markus Fischer, President of the Swiss Biodiversity Forum of the Swiss Academy of Sciences. Media release (pdf in German, in French)
The skills shortage that has already existed for quite some time suggests that not enough young people are interested in the STEM subjects (sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics) and therefore neither chose a profession or studies in these areas. The question arises: Where and how is the interest in engineering and natural sciences promoted - or not? Girls feel considerably less supported in engineering, for example, than boys. This emanates from the study «MINT-Nachwuchsbarometer Schweiz» of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. Further information Report from the Berner Zeitung
The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences welcome the proposed abolition of fees for meteorologic and climatologic services, such as it is foreseen in the Federal Law for Meteorology and Climatology. In many areas, for example in the implementation of the energy strategy, the free access to weather and climate data is a decisive advantage. Media release (German, French) Further information (German, French)
In the context of the Swiss media congress, the Prix Média of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences to the total amount of 40,000 Swiss Francs was awarded today in Interlaken. For their successful science transfer, awards were given to Julie Zaugg and Clément Bürge (engineering sciences), Catherine Riva (medicine), Mathias Plüss (human and social sciences) and Nik Walter (natural sciences). Further information: in German, in French
The International Balzan Prize Foundation awards four annual prizes to people or organisations who have made outstanding achievements in the humanities, natural sciences, culture as well as for endeavours for peace and the brotherhood of man. The amount of each of the four 2014 Balzan Prizes is CHF 750,000, half of which must be destined to research work. The Balzan Prize winners of 2014 were proclaimed today in a public announcement: - Mario Torelli, Italy, for Classical Archaeology - Ian Hacking, Canada, for Epistemology and Philosophy of Mind - G. David Tilman, USA, for Basic and/or applied Plant Ecology - Dennis Parnell Sullivan, USA, for Mathematics (pure or applied) Further information
Der 2-tägige Kongress der Wissenschaftskommunikation ScienceComm vernetzt die Schweizer Akteure der Wissenschaftskommunikation und stellt eine Plattform für den fachlichen Austausch zu Verfügung. Bis zum 10. September können Sie sich gerne für den Kongress am 18. und 19. September in Beromünster / Sursee im ehemaligen Landessender (KKLB) anmelden. Die drei diesjährigen Schwerpunktthemen sind: «Wissenschaft – Medien – Politik», «Wissenschaft und Kunst» sowie «Science Visualization». Weitere Informationen
The Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS) invites publishers and scientific actors to facilitate and expedite the transition to open access: scientific work should be published on open websites and in open access journals. The position paper explains the different routes to open access publishing and proposes urgent measures. Promoting open access to research results (pdf)
The framework conditions of the science system in many parts of Europe and their effects on young academics, and especially young female academics, were the subject of a conference on 7 July 2014. Following this event, the national science academies of Switzerland, Germany and Austria met to discuss a concerted approach towards the promotion of young researchers. Further information
The annual report 2013 of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences is now available for download (in German or French, 2.7 MB each).
158 applications were submitted to the funding programme «MINT Switzerland» to the amount of more than 13 million Swiss Francs. The Swiss Confederation makes available 1,5 million Swiss Francs, notably to support proven projects and initiatives for the promotion of MINT skills in Switzerland (MINT stands for mathematics, informatics, natural sciences and technology). Further information
In a new publication, eight European academies point out the consequences of demographic change and the ensuing need for action. In agreement with the assessments and recommendation of their European partners, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences consider measures to be of high priority that enable and promote an active participation of all generations in family and professional lives. They advocate for a society of all ages and a mixing of education, gainful and family work: a side by side shall replace the consecutive. Media release Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (in German; in French) Joint media release of the eight European Academies Publication: Mastering Demographic Change in Europe (pdf, 1.7 MB) Press photo: European Academies Group «Mastering Demographic Change» (10 MB)
Switzerland has decided to isolate itself. This attitude threatens the scientific community and will have an impact on the close ties it maintains with Europe and the rest of the world. - Unease in the universities - The European patient - The international integration of Swiss research - What are Switzerland's needs in terms of research infrastructure? Download Horizons (pdf, 6 MB) Subscribe to Horizons
As president of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, Thierry Courvoisier was appointed as a member of the Swiss delegation to the Global Science Forum of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). The Global Science Forum provides a venue for consultation on global science policy issues among senior science officials and supports the OECD in the formulation of policies to improve global economic and social well-being. Further information on the OECD Global Science Forum
With the «Plea for a national education strategy», the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences invite the educational actors to look at the challenges in the education system in their entirety and to develop a collective line of action. The Academies note an absence of a clear educational policy objective to direct and orient the co-ordination of the manifold processes in the educational domain. They propose to the Federal and Cantonal authorities to develop a national education strategy by involving the concerned actors. Plea for a national education strategy (pdf in German & French) Press release (pdf: German, French) Further information
The «MINT Switzerland» federal programme has as its main objective the promotion of projects and initiatives within the framework of MINT competencies in Switzerland (MINT stands for Mathematics, Information technology, Natural sciences and Technology). The development programme provides one-time start-up or front-end financing. The project requires the availability and use of the candidate's own financial resources. Closing date for applications is 7 June 2014. Please find information concerning the competition and the application procedure on the French or German websites.
Switzerland's affiliation with the European higher education area is threatened in consequence of the yes-vote on the federal popular initiative «mass immigration» on 9 February 2014. In its initial reaction, the European Commission excluded Switzerland from both the 8th EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 and the student exchange programme Erasmus+. Students, researchers and scientists are invited to sign an online petition by the national Union of Students of Switzerland that is supported by the Swiss science organisations, including the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. The signers of this appeal call upon decision-makers in Europe and Switzerland to enable Switzerland's participation in these important programmes, and voice their commitment to an open European and international higher education area. Webpage with online petition: www.not-without-switzerland.org
In a letter to the Federal Council, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, the Rectors of the Swiss universities and the Presidium of the Swiss National Science Foundation express their concern regarding the exclusion from the European research programmes. They request the Federal Council «to take all possible and conceivable measures and steps so as to enable an association to Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+». This pressing appeal of the academic organisations follows their «Manifesto for an open education and research location Switzerland» issued in January, prior to the «Yes» on the «Mass immigration initiative». Letter to the Federal Council (pdf, in German) Manifesto for an open education and research location Switzerland (pdf, in German; in French)
Fracking allows the commercial use of gas resources that are not easily accessible. Fracking is also applied in deep geothermy. A new Factsheet by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences presents arguments for the discussion on these techniques. To download the factsheet in German and French
Honeybees and other insects pollinate many plants and are therefore indispensable for a productive agriculture and functioning ecosystems. These pollinators are in dire straits, however, and suffered critical losses in numbers and number of species. This does not only affect honeybees, but also wild pollinators like certain bumblebees and butterfly species. A new Factsheet of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences presents the current state of knowledge and possible options for action. Press release (pdf: in German; in French) Factsheet (pdf: in German; in French)
The project Curriculum 21 of the Swiss-German Conference of Cantonal Directors of Public Education aims at harmonising the Swiss educational system for the elementary school. It provides guidance and defines the leeway for cantonal accommodations. The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences see the efforts to harmonise the cantonal systems as a positive sign. They point out a number of risks, however: the insufficient promotion of generic competences, for example, and several objectives set too high, being relevant for a Bachelor study rather than the elementary school. Additionally, the Curriculum 21 is no substitute for a necessary national education strategy for both the Confederation and the Cantons, attending to the different construction sites in today's system. Press release (pdf, in German)
Switzerland's openness towards the world is decisive for many aspects of the country's development, but it is particularly important for intellectual and academic life, for research and innovation. The forthcoming votes on the immigration policy will undoubtedly be perceived as test for this openness. Against this background, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, together with the other scentific and academic actors, affirm the necessity for a free exchange of knowledge and people with the surrounding countries. With this in mind, these actors have published a manifesto available at: Manifesto for an open education and research location Switzerland (pdf: German; French)