The Anniversary Annual General Meeting and International Conference of Young Scientists of the Global Young Academy – ‘Re-Enlightenment: Truth, reason and science in a global world’ – took place from 29 April – 3 May in Halle (Saale), Germany, at the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. The meeting celebrated 10 years of the GYA. Recognizing that the GYA thrives from the activities of its 200 members and builds on the work of its over 200 alumni, alumni were especially invited to participate in this anniversary meeting, to reflect on the past 10 years of the GYA with a view to the organisation’s future development. Altogether 113 GYA members and 24 GYA alumni attended, as well as over 100 international and local speakers and guests, including policy makers and senior representatives of the international science management and policy community.

Below is an overview of the pre-conference workshops, AGM sessions and international conference panels and discussions. The full programme can be viewed here.

A full report can be downloaded here (PDF): AGM and Conference Report 2019

Pre-Conference Workshops and Events

Science Leadership Workshop – From 28-29 April, 35 GYA members took part in the second pre-conference science leadership workshop.

Science Advice Workshop –  On 29 April, over 30 GYA members, early-career researchers from the Halle Institute of Economic Research (IWH) and the Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg took part in a workshop on science advice, co-organised by the International Network of Government Science Advice, the GYA Science Advice working group and the IWH.

Science Education Outreach -On the afternoon before the official programme began, 11 GYA members participated in a science education outreach event, co-organised with the Francke Foundations of Halle, with children aged 6 – 12: making solar cells with berry juice and playing the inquiry-based game Expedition Mundus. Read more about this event here.

Finding Affinities – At the Nexus of Art and Science –  From 28 April through 4 May, the GYA working group Arts+Science=Peace +Justice together with ArtSci Nexus exhibited work from four artist-scientist teams at the Art Museum Moritzburg in Halle (Saale). The exhibit was complemented by audiovisual performances. Read more about this exhibit and GYA cooperation with the Art Museum Mortizburg here

Afternoon workshops on fundraising and presentation coaching were also held for GYA members on 29 April.

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) was officially opened on 30 April with welcoming words from Leopoldina President Jörg Hacker and State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, Science and Digitalisation, Saxony-Anhalt, Thomas Wünsch.  Following their remarks, 43 new GYA members were inaugurated. Highlights from the first AGM day included an information fair for members to get to know existing working groups, incubator groups, and member committee activities and a plenary session on internal reports and discussions looking back at the past year. Throughout the week, working groups met and engaged with new and old members to progress and adjust their aims.

On Thursday, 2 May, the GYA General Assembly elected a new Executive Committee (EC) to lead the organisation in the coming year: 11 members from 5 continents, including one continuing Co-Chair, Connie Nshemereirwe (Uganda), and one new Co-Chair, Koen Vermeir (France).

International Conference of Young Scientists ‘Re-enlightenment? Truth, reason and science in a global world’

At this conference, the GYA approached “enlightenment” in a broad sense and from a global perspective. In this sense, enlightenment relates to core values such as critical thinking, freedom of thought and scientific achievement, and is in opposition to science denial, post-fact and post-truth movements. As a global organisation aiming to empower early-career researchers to lead international, interdisciplinary, and inter-generational evidence-informed dialogue, the GYA opened a debate about re-enlightenment: framed around a reflection on the role and limits of science in today’s globalized society and on how science can help in solving its problems.

Re-Enlightenment Panels

The International Conference opened on 1 May with the introductory panel ‘What is Enlightenment?’, featuring international speakers Clifford Siskin, Elisabeth Décultot and Irina Podgorny, and moderated by GYA member Koen Vermeir. Panelists spoke on different ways to view the historical Enlightenment, and the implications of these views when we talk about re-enlightenment.

Interactive panels on 1 and 2 May on aspects of the conference theme such as ‘science between global and local’, ‘the role of scientists in a post-Enlightenment world’ and ‘the limits of re-enlightenment’. The panels, organized and moderated by GYA members, incorporated external speakers such as Amy Luers (Future Earth), Ismail Serageldin (Founder, Bibliotheca Alexandrina), Silke Beck (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research), Martin Visbeck (Governing Board, International Science Council), David Mair (EU Joint Research Centre), Virginia Murray (Public Health England) and Detlev Ganten (Chair of the Board, Charité Foundation).

Special sessions and events

At a local dinner reception on the evening of 1 May at the historic City Hall (Stadthaus) in Halle, GYA members were welcomed by Petra Sachse (Centre for Economy, Research and Digitalization, City of Halle (Saale) and Karamba Diaby (MP, German Parliament). Further, two working groups presented output from the past year: The Global Migration and Human Rights group launched the scholarly publication ‘Responsibility for Refugee and Migrant Integration’, and the Open Science working group discussed the joint young academy statement on Plan S and continuing engagement in European deliberations on open science.

In the session GYA at 10!, five past GYA Co-Chairs and former GYA Advisory Board member, Howard Alper, addressed the origins of the GYA, and what they see as unique achievements of the organisation. The panel was followed by an active discussion with GYA members.

Member lightning talks are a lively highlight of GYA conferences. On 2 May, over 40 GYA members presented their research in short (ca. 4 minute), engaging presentations, sparking interest in a wide variety of research fields and laying the foundations for future interdisciplinary cooperation. Abstracts for the talks can be viewed here.

At a well-attended Gala Dinner at Steintorvarité in Halle, GYA members, speakers and guests, as well as early-career researchers from the Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, were welcomed by Jutta Schnitzer-Ungefug (Secretary General, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina). Two key-note talks framed the networking evening, held by Vladimír Šucha (Director General, EU Commission Joint Research Centre) and Martin Frick (Senior Director Policy and Program Coordination, UNFCCC). The first talk emphasized the importance of understanding the role of values in policymaking, while the second focused on the increasing necessity to address climate change as a cross-cutting challenge in most fields of both research and policymaking.

History and Future of Academies and Learned Societies

Concluding the conference on 3 May, a two-part panel explored the history and future of academies and learned societies. The session on the history of academies was introduced in a key-note talk by Ismail Serageldin (Founder, Bibliotheca Alexandrina), followed by a panel discussion particularly focusing on the history of academies in Europe, with Sietske Fransen (Max Planck Institute for Art History) and Rainer Godel (Centre for Science Studies, Leopoldina). Leading into the future of academies session, GYA members Anna Harris and Matthew Levy spoke about the history of the GYA, in the context of the growing movement of national young academies. Part two of the panel, on the future of national and global academies, was an active panel discussion with Jacqueline Olang (Network of African Science Academies), Volker ter Meulen (InterAcademy Partnership), Philipp Kanske (die Junge Akademie), Antonio Loprieno (All European Academies), Orakanoke Phanraksa (National Science and Technology Development Agency, Thailand), Christiane Diehl (European Academies’ Science Advisory Council), moderated by GYA Co-Chair Tolu Oni.

Post-conference: March for Science

Following the conference week, on Saturday, 4 May, the GYA co-organised two events in the context of the international March for Science, which took place on the same day in cities around the world. The March for Science in Halle (Saale) was conceptualized in the form of two events open to the public: 1. A science history walk through the city and 2. an arts-science workshop put together by the Art-Sci Nexus group.


A special thank you to those GYA members who helped design and organize the meeting, as well as to the numerous cooperating partners and funding institutions who made this event possible: German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, InterAcademy Partnership, Volkswagen Stiftung, Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Stiftung, Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD), German Research Foundation, International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA), Stiftung Kulturelle Erneuerung, Kunstmuseum Moritzburg und Kulturstiftung Sachsen-Anhalt, Halle Institute for Economic Research, Die Junge Akademie, Interdisciplinary Centre for European Enlightenment Studies, Francke Foundations, City of Halle (Saale), Region Saxony-Anhalt, Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. The Global Young Academy also gratefully acknowledges core funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.