President reveals Academy's plans

10 May 2010

In his annual address President Robbert Dijkgraaf of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), revealed the course that his organisation would be setting in the years ahead.

The Academy devotes three sections of the Agenda to the Academy's core roles: as a society of outstanding scientists and scholars; as an organisation of institutes; and as an advisory body.
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>The Strategic Agenda 2010-2015, entitled For Science and Scholarship: The Academy in the Knowledge Society, builds on its previous agenda Sustainable Science (2006) while acknowledging major changes both in the Academy's surroundings.

The new procedure for electing Academy members is better attuned to the dynamic nature of science and scholarship, in particular their increasingly multidisciplinary nature and the rise of new disciplines. From now on, the Academy will appoint sixteen members every year. It will also appoint more top scientists and scholars who work outside academia.
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>Prof. Dijkgraaf also outlined the Academy's ambitions for its institutes: to be leaders in their research field in the Netherlands and a key point of contact for fellow researchers abroad. The Academy's president emphasised that the institutes are already doing outstanding work: "We are proud that the Academy institutes produce an excellent calibre of research, with a citation impact far above the world average, the Dutch average, and the Dutch university average." The Academy wishes to join its institutes in boosting the reputation of Dutch science and scholarship, in cooperation with other parties, in particular university research groups. "Because of their relatively large measure of flexibility, autonomy and focus, institutes can set priorities in research," he said.
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>The Academy president also commented on the aim of promoting the Academy's role as an advisory body. "We will be producing more recommendations that can offer a context for scientific and scholarly research or spearhead public debate." As examples, he mentioned the Academy's recent advisory report on primary school mathematics teaching and its impending report on climate research.
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>One new intention is to publish a Dutch Research Agenda starting in 2011, which will list challenging and urgent research questions to which Dutch research groups can make a significant contribution. The Academy hopes that the Research Agenda will improve public awareness of science and scholarship and help set clear-cut priorities for policy making.
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>In his annual address, Prof. Dijkgraaf also advocated maximum transparency in research, something that he considers unavoidable now that the authority of science is no longer unassailable, as the climate change debate has demonstrated. During the special meeting at the Trippenhuis Building, Academy member Prof. Piet Borst, who is also a member of the Dutch Government's Innovation Platform, explained his views on public-private partnership for innovation. Prof. Paul Schnabel, the managing director of the Netherlands Institute for Social Research, received the Academy Medal, awarded every other year for outstanding effort in the advancement of science and scholarship in the Netherlands.
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