Science in society: caring for our future in turbulent times

Over the past two decades, concerns about the relation between science and society at European and Member State levels have gone through a number of shifts. Previously, science enjoyed a large degree of freedom to pursue curiosity-driven inquiries without facing the scrutiny of democratic accountability. Then, a new social contract pushed the idea that scientific production should be demonstrating that it is beneficial for the public good.

Scientists’ dreams: a society supporting science and respecting its autonomy

Science is closely linked with society. And yet, despite its close interdependency with society, science demands autonomy – the right to organise its discovery processes according to its own rules and some freedom to select research topics in accordance with its own agenda. Since society now widely recognises the economic and political importance of science, it has come under scrutiny. Its demands for autonomy are now contested.

Turkish academics in a bind over conservative policies

Since May 2013, Turkey has seen a wave of protests from part of the population expressing its opposition to conservative government moves imposed on a society that is no longer aligned with its traditional culture. Scientists in international circles expressed concerns about their Turkish colleagues, as reports of police violence and oppression emerged. They wonder how best to support the Turkish scientific community

Is the new French research and education reform going far enough?

The Euroscientist looks into the details of the proposed French reforms on of Universities and Research. Some minor aspects of the law have been widely debated in the public sphere, whereas the in-depth changes it brings to the research and education system have unsettled its stakeholders across the political spectrum. Between past legacy and future needs, the new law appears to have reached the only politically acceptable compromise.

Genius endangered: intelligence is not just cartesian

Archimedes, Leonardo Da Vinci and Galileo, now almost make the unanimity as being three geniuses of our past. But during their lifetime, they were misunderstood, maligned, ridiculed and condemned. Being a genius hinges on a few things: a refusal of accepted wisdom, and the desire to offer better. They want to put the present on the way to a better future. Does this type of character still exist today?

Human rights: a responsibility of scientific organisations too

A 30 years old Iranian physicist, called Omid Kokabee, languishes in jail in Teheran since January 2010. He has been condemned to 10 years for spying for the US government. His case has received the support of major scientific societies. But does it make sense that scientific organisations care about human rights issues, beyond their main, scientific mission? Is it useful? Or even desirable?

Reengineering Italian research

For many years, we have been witnessing a paradox in Italian research. On the one hand, we have heard the frequent declarations by politicians and institutions on the importance of research and researchers. On the other hand, the same policy makers have been imposing budget cuts and constraints to scientists. The scientific community has thus expressed justified concerns.