In these challenging times, we find ourselves immersed in the profound pain and sorrow experienced by some of our esteemed members and alumni. Unspeakable acts of terror and atrocities have cast a shadow over their lives and communities, leaving some grappling with the harsh realities of survival. To all those affected, our hearts extend in unwavering empathy.
Amidst this tumultuous backdrop, enquiries have surfaced, and some members have raised impassioned queries regarding the stance of the GYA. Questions echo about whose side we stand on, with calls for our leadership body, the Executive Committee (EC), to align exclusively with one perspective. Let us unequivocally state: the GYA stands united in condemning terrorism, violence, and war, irrespective of its origin.
In a world already ablaze with division, we face a pivotal choice. We can contribute to the escalating flames or become a force for transformation. It is within these challenging moments that we can develop a path that is not just different but inherently better. The question then becomes: How can we achieve this transformation?
Adhering to Our Mandate
In the complex web of global science, international science academies stand out as key players. They’re not just about giving props to great contributions; they’re real champions of scientific excellence. These institutions offer priceless advice to policymakers, helping them make decisions based on solid evidence. Acting as catalysts for global collaboration, they facilitate knowledge exchange and address pressing global challenges.
The GYA stands at the intersection of this global scientific network with a resolute mission: empowering and mobilising young scientists across the globe to tackle complex global challenges and contribute to science for the betterment of society. The GYA’s goal encompasses providing a robust platform for early-career researchers, encouraging collaboration, idea exchange, and participation in interdisciplinary projects that transcend national or regional boundaries. This mission underscores the GYA’s commitment to fostering international cooperation, advocating for evidence-based policies, and championing science education and outreach.
The Pitfalls of Taking Sides in Global Conflicts
Taking sides in contemporary debates risks closing the GYA to dissenting voices, undermining its essence as a long-term knowledge-sharing institution. Dissent and criticism are integral to individual members, not the institution itself.
Adopting a partisan stance, especially in conflicts, poses significant drawbacks for a global science academy like the GYA. The main worries here involve losing objectivity and putting at risk the academy’s credibility as a trustworthy source of impartial scientific information. Additionally, taking sides risks contributing to polarisation within the academy and the broader scientific community. Aligning with one perspective might feed into divisions, delaying the collaborative and inclusive environment crucial for global scientific progress.
Tangible consequences include diminished trust and collaboration, hindering the GYA’s mission of fostering international cooperation and impeding the exchange of ideas across borders. The potential backlash from dissenting individuals or groups poses a risk to the academy’s integrity, threatening its reputation as a global advocate for young scientists.
Ethical considerations arise when aligning with a party supposedly involved in actions violating human rights or international law, raising questions about the GYA’s commitment to ethical conduct.
Engaging in partisan positions risks distracting the academy from its core mission of advancing science, empowering young scientists, and addressing global challenges collaboratively. Maintaining neutrality is crucial for the GYA to uphold its role as an impartial advocate for global scientific collaboration and evidence-informed decision-making.
The Strength of a Neutral Science Academy
Choosing neutrality strategically positions the GYA to embrace a full spectrum of views, tapping into the wisdom generated through lively debate. By avoiding specific political and social commitments, a neutral science academy experiences fewer calls to stifle critical voices, allowing it to focus on supporting its members and creating optimal conditions for their success. This principled neutrality not only distinguishes the academy as a unique entity in society but also rebuilds trust in the scientific realm.
The neutrality of a science academy doesn’t arise from a lack of courage or indifference from its leadership body; it’s rooted in a profound respect for free enquiry and the obligation to cherish a diversity of viewpoints. This principled neutrality not only sets the academy apart in society but also rebuilds trust in the scientific domain.
It’s crucial to note that the neutrality of a science academy isn’t a result of a lack of courage or indifference from its leadership; it’s deeply rooted in a profound respect for free inquiry and the obligation to value a diversity of viewpoints. This institutional neutrality aligns with giving individual members the utmost freedom to engage in political action and social protest.
While neutrality is a fundamental principle, there are exceptions. The GYA can and should intervene in social or political issues directly impacting its mission, such as censorship, loyalty oaths, government research support, and foreign student visas, for instance. This strategic approach ensures that the academy remains a stronghold of open discourse while actively participating in matters crucial to its mission.
Recognising the Complexity of International Conflicts
Members have highlighted a significant concern regarding the current GYA leadership, contending that the GYA’s participation in previous political debates may have impacted its institutional neutrality. These concerns hint at an implicit preference for certain political stances over others, prompting scrutiny of our decision not to take a stance on the current conflict in the Middle East.
In navigating international conflicts, a thoughtful and case-specific approach is imperative. We acknowledge the evolving nature of crises and the increasing complexity of international conflicts, recognising that each situation requires a nuanced response. It’s essential to understand that decisions made in the past may not seamlessly align with our present context.
Viewing this shift as a valuable learning opportunity, we underscore the importance of adapting to evolving situations. Embracing a neutral stance is highlighted because it aligns with our role in promoting inclusivity, fostering open and constructive dialogue, and reiterating our commitment to representing a diverse range of perspectives.
Consistency in decision-making is a top priority. While recognising that past statements were influenced by different contexts, maintaining neutrality now demonstrates our dedication to a uniform and fair approach in addressing diverse and complex international conflicts.
It’s crucial to emphasise that neutrality doesn’t mean disengagement. We reassert our unwavering commitment to global engagement, collaboration, and making positive contributions to international discussions on science, policy, and societal issues, all for the benefit of early-career researchers.
Looking Forward: Embracing Peace and Academic Collaboration
In the midst of the recent and escalating conflict, the GYA stands united in unequivocal condemnation of terrorism, violence and war, recognising the profound impact on everyone. Our hearts go out to all those affected, and we extend unwavering support to scholars, especially early-career researchers enduring devastating situations. As global citizens, we implore the international community to unite and collectively act towards a resolution for the ongoing conflict, striving for a just and enduring peace.
We firmly believe in the transformative power of academia to bridge divides and foster understanding. Science diplomacy can play a pivotal role in demonstrating pathways to peace, grounded in collaboration, equal rights, human dignity, and justice. In doing so, we not only acknowledge, but also embrace the potential of science in advancing the cause of peace.
In our firm dedication to justice and peace, and our belief in the transformative impact of global academic collaboration, we urge universities, research institutes, and academic institutions worldwide to adopt a deep sense of inclusivity and solidarity. By embracing students, researchers, and academics facing risk and adversity, we not only showcase our commitment to these values but also embody our vision of a world where science transcend boundaries. The global academic community must stand united in the face of adversity.
Together, let us champion peace, cooperation, and empathy, seeking a future where academic collaboration transcends borders and contributes to a more peaceful and harmonious world.
The Members of the GYA’s Executive Committee
Note: A dedicated Agora forum has been created for Members to engage in discussions on this topic. You can access it here (login required).
- Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action: https://www.thefire.org/research-learn/report-universitys-role-political-and-social-action-kalven-report
- Science as a Tool for Peacebuilding: https://www.icip.cat/perlapau/en/article/science-a-tool-for-peacebuilding/
- UNESCO Science for Peace: https://www.unesco.org/en/days/science-peace-development#theme