The Union of the German Academies of Sciences is cooperating with other science institutions and organisations on different subjects in order to work on current topics of science.
Humanities in Dialogue (Geisteswissenschaft im Dialog, GiD) is a series of events jointly organised by the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities and the Max Weber Foundation – German Humanities Institutes Abroad. The forum primarily aims to motivate discussion and exchange, both among humanities scholars and between the humanities and other disciplines. The events encourage and require active participation and are there to intensify the dialogue between academe and the public.
Humanities in Dialogue events take place several times a year in alternating locations. They feature informative expert presentations and discussions by researchers from a range of disciplines on issues concerning scholarship and research, culture, politics and society, and of course provide for question and answers with the audience. Closing drinks provide an extra opportunity for thoughts, questions and discussions at the end of each event.
Humanities in Dialogue was initiated by the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities in 1993, and was co-organised by the Leibniz Association from 2001 to 2012. Today, the events are a product of a cooperation between the Union of German Academies and the Max Weber Foundation.
Patron of the event series is Federal Minister of Education and Research, Prof. Dr Johanna Wanka.
Further information (in German only)
The state of the German language has been a topic of lively debate for a long time. There is some concern that the German language is deteriorating, that the range of vocabulary is becoming impoverished, and that the language is increasingly being taken over by Anglicisms. But are these concerns really justified?
In order to find out, the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung (German Academy for Language and Literature) and the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Arts have launched a Bericht zur Lage der deutschen Sprache (“Report on the State of the German Language”). In this publication, both institutions present linguistic studies and discuss their results in order to make a decisive contribution to these debates.
This has resulted in the publication of the Erster Bericht zur Lage der deutschen Sprache (“First Report on the State of the German Language”), which provides expert information for academics, politicians and interested parties of the general public grounded by scientific evidence. The report was formally introduced in Berlin in 2013 under the title Reichtum und Armut der deutschen Sprache (“The Richness and Poverty of the German Language”). It is based on a comprehensive text corpus and offers information on the development of the German language from 1900 to the present day supported by empirical data. It focuses particularly on the topics of vocabulary, Anglicisms, flexion and the nominal style. The report met with nationwide press attention, reflecting the relevance and currency of the topic.
The Second Report on the State of the German Language (2017) was dedicated to the subject “Variety and Unity of the German Language”. The German language is one of the most significant cultural languages of the world and like all languages is subject to a permanent process of change. This process of change shows itself in a growing differentiation of the individual varieties of this language. In this sense, German is more than a language-system defined by grammar-books and dictionaries, but rather it is a complex web of overlapping forms of languages or “varieties” of language. Within these varieties, the role of Standard-German guarantees an mutual intelligibility and therefore forms the center of school curricula.
Science in Dialogue
Science in Dialogue (WiD) is a non-profit organisation, founded in 1999 on the initiative of the “Association for the Promotion of Science and Humanities in Germany” (Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft) by prominent German science-organisations. WiD strives to draw the attention of people of all ages and from educational background to scientific topics and to promote interest in science overall. To this end, WiD is organising panel-discussions, school-projects, exhibitions and competitions with regard to research and science. The Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities is cooperating with WiD in the following projects:
“Fast Forward Science” is appealing to researchers, well-versed vloggers, artists, communicators or just the public interested in science to submit videos on current research-topics. This is a challenging task, because these videos should entertain, be science-based and comprehensible, and all of this at the same time.
In the series “Interview with a painting” videos recalling the stories of world-famous paintings were produced. In the context of the German Year of Science 2016*2017 - Seas and Oceans, a curator presents stories from a wide variety of related paintings, ranging from stories about storm surges, floodwaters, or climate-change and waterways.
A female reporter has gathered all kind of information being worth knowing regarding the subjects of the scientific year 2016*2017 – Sea and Oceans. Topics are sometimes storm surges.
The Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities has been a member of the think tank stiftung neue verantwortung (snv) since 2007. The Union is represented on the snv steering committee by Prof. Elke Lütjen-Drecoll, the former president of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz between 2005 and 2013, and vice-president of the Union of German Academies between 2009 and 2013. The General Secretary of the Union, Dr Dieter Herrmann, is on the snv managing board.
The stiftung neue verantwortung is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit think tank based in Berlin with an alumni network spanning the whole of Germany. It is financially supported by other foundations and business, as well as both private and public sources of funding.
The snv’s work focuses primarily on changes in the employment sphere, energy and resources, ecosystems for innovation, the future of government, and the European digital agenda. The foundation is an operative and conceptual organisation that independently plans, designs and executes projects. Project teams include representatives of all major stakeholders with decisive roles in socio-political action, as well as from all academic disciplines. They strive to contribute to the development of new ideas and evaluations concerning the major challenges facing Germany, and to make these applicable in practice.
The enactment of the 1996 German orthography reform gave rise to fierce debate and protests. It is for this reason that the Council for German Orthography was founded in 2004. Under the leadership of the former Bavarian Science Minister Prof. Dr h.c. mult. Hans Zehetmair, the Council succeeded in launching “a reform of the reform” in 2006.
Today, it is the task of the cross-national committee (member countries are Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, South Tyrol and Belgium; co-opted: the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) to keep the implementation of the orthography reform and its development in written language under close observation. The Council additionally publishes official guidelines and rules as a standard reference work for German orthography. Changes to these rules were last made in 2006, when major modifications were undertaken upon the Council’s recommendation. Changes particularly affected writing compounds separately or as a single word, punctuation, syllabification and certain aspects of the use of the upper and lower cases.
The Union of German Academies has been represented on the Council ever since it was founded; an organisation comprised of linguistics and literature experts and representatives of key language institutions.
Since 2017, the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities is represented in the Council for German Ortography by Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Solms, Professor for the History of the German language and ancient German literature at the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg and member of the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig. He is the successor of Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Wegera and Prof. Dr. Werner Besch, both members of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts.
Past Cooperation Projects:
Elaboration of a Concept for an European Academies Internet Gateway
The project of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities “Aufbau eines europäischen Akademienportal”, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) from October 2015 until June 2017 aimed to conceptualise the framework of a pan-European digital infrastructure, that improves the visibility and findability of the academies’ social sciences and humanities research and facilitates international cooperations.
For this purpose, the basic requirements of a future European Academies Internet Gateway for the Social Sciences and Humanities (short: AGATE) were mapped and possibilities examined for integration, reuse and scaling of existing services and solutions.
With the publication of the concept in June 2017, the project was brought to a successful conclusion. The final report is accessible as digital publication with the title “AGATE: Concept for a European Academies Internet Gateway for the Humanities and Social Sciences”.
The Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities are working in close cooperation with the federation of All European Academies (ALLEA) to undertake a “Survey and Analysis of Basic Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Science Academies, Learned Societies and Related Research Institutes of Europe”. The project is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and was launched in August 2013. The results will be finalised and published in the spring of 2015. The project is based at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
The SASSH project will survey and analyse the phenomenon of basic research in the social sciences and humanities at the science academies and related research institutes of Europe, and make the resulting conclusions and recommendations publicly available.
The survey will bring much needed transparency on the long-term research projects carried out at multiple locations around Europe and raise awareness of this kind of research among politicians, academics and the public. It will also identify opportunities to connect these projects, as well as to harmonise the standards and practices they follow, including digital tools and publishing strategies.
Not least, the SASSH project results will provide the basis for the long-term goal of initiating a European Research Programme in the humanities and social sciences that foregrounds European cultural heritage and identity; a programme based on the model of the German Academies‘ Programme.
During the first phase of the project up until spring 2014, relevant research institutions from around Europe were issued with a survey to collect detailed information on the nature, goals and working practices of their research projects, among other things. Surveys were completed by in excess of 600 research projects in the SSH, and a further 100 shorter surveys on digital infrastructure at the institutions were completed by IT or digital library staf. These extensive data sets are currently being analysed.
A conference on digital research infrastructures gave an added impetus to the project. The conference was co-organised by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and the German Data Forum (RatSWD) and took place in November 2013 in the Federal Press Conference Building in Berlin. In the conference publication entitled “European Research Infrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences”, experts from academic research, politics and administration discuss current and future areas of digital research, and anticipated future developments and challenges for research infrastructures, summarising the insights and results of the conference. A free e-book version is available at www.akademienunion.de/BMBF_Projekt/FACING_THE_FUTURE.pdf.
Dr. Camilla Leathem (Coordinator)