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ICSU and ISSC hold high-level strategy workshop to inform proposed merger

Earlier this week, the two Councils hosted a high-level meeting of scientists and experts in Paris to discuss the future of a proposed new organization that would result from a merger of the International Social Science Council and the International Council for Science.

The one-and-a-half day workshop , which kicked off with a lively discussion on opportunities and challenges facing the new organization, was followed by a meeting of the Strategy Working Group for another day-and-a-half.

The full three-day meeting was intended to generate a draft strategy document which will be then submitted for approval to the executives of the two organizations and their members.

The panel for the discussion included:

  • Helga Nowotny: Professor Emerita of Social Studies of Science, ETH, Zurich
  • Craig Calhoun: President of the Berggruen Institute
  • Robbert Dijkgraaf: Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton
  • Philip Campbell: Editor-in-Chief, Nature
  • Flavia Schlegel: Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, UNESCO
  • Nada Al-Nashif: Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO

Issues discussed ranged broadly across topics such as the future of the sciences, important priorities for a new Council, new stakeholder groups that should be engaged, among other things. To watch the recording, click here. You can read the social media round-up of the discussion here.

The importance of advocacy emerged as a popular orientation for a future organization, for example to advocate for the importance of science itself, or the importance of evidence-based policy-making. Participants also saw a role for a council in in upholding the universality of science and freedom of scientific exchange There was debate around the importance of the UN’s Agenda 2030 on sustainable development as a “signature” programme, as well as the challenge of tackling new topics such as artificial intelligence.

The Strategy Working Group will meet again at the end of May 2017. Its meeting is followed on 3-4 February 2017 by a meeting of the Transition Task Force, which is designing a proposed organizational structure and statutes for the new organization.

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