About Die Junge Akademie

Die Junge Akademie was founded in 2000 as the first academy for outstanding young academics. Its members hail from all scientific disciplines and the arts. They explore the potential and limits of interdisciplinary work and aim to start conversations between science, art and society, and to generate momentum in discussions on science policy. The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina are the supporting academies. Since its founding, Die Junge Akademie has developed into a role model and example for similar initiatives in many other countries.

Tasks and Forms of Work

Founded in 2000 with the conviction that young academics in Germany generally have little opportunity to develop freely or shape the academic system, Die Junge Akademie has prioritised the following two tasks since its founding:

  • the encouragement of academic, especially interdisciplinary, discourse among outstanding young academics and artists and
  • the promotion of initiatives at the intersections of science, art, science management, science policy and society.

Die Junge Akademie is free to choose its forms of work. The members meet regularly in varied groups online or in person, and three times a year at the Plenum to discuss their current research plans and to organise joint projects and publications.

The members alone determine the work of Die Junge Akademie. They define thematic focus points and methods and select the appropriate event and publication formats. Thus the fundamental concept of Die Junge Akademie is its aim to constantly reanimate central principles rather than to continually achieve new objectives. This means that the members of Die Junge Akademie can further develop the academy’s work, adjusting it to the changing interests, needs and problems of both their members and the academic system. The joy of intellectual work, of scientific exchange, of tackling unsolved problems and of trying new things and applying new perspectives are all part of their work.

For this purpose every member, each elected for five years, has access to a small personal budget and to the general research budget. Members can use this money to implement joint, interdisciplinary projects such as workshops, podium discussions or publications. In addition to the possibilities presented to them by networking, financial support and advantages in terms of the compatibility of work and family life, members benefit from involvement in Die Junge Akademie in another, perhaps less obvious, yet no less definitive manner: Die Junge Akademie offers a safe space for free exchange, a testing ground where science is explored up close, risky and unusual project formats are tested, and real interdisciplinary work is practised.

Maintaining open, transparent and trusting communication with one another is crucial for the success of Die Junge Akademie. More specifically, this means that content is discussed very openly while always taking care to communicate in a respectful and trusting manner. Discrimination of any form is not welcome. It is of utmost importance to Die Junge Akademie that every member is always treated equally by everyone else and that every opinion is valued.

Members of Die Junge Akademie do their utmost to act in a climate-friendly manner. This is why, since 2019, members have had the option of voluntarily committing to avoid short-haul flights on journeys under 1,000 km which can be accomplished in fewer than eight hours using other means of transport when travelling for their work for Die Junge Akademie. This voluntary commitment is part of the statement “Refund real travel costs” in the list of statements.

Membership

Ten members are selected annually as laid down in the Statutes of Die Junge Akademie. Direct applications from young, outstanding academics and artists are possible every two years.

More about membership and the selection procedure

Committees and office

As part of the spring plenary session, the members elect the members of the Board and its chairperson: the Speaker of the Board for Die Junge Akademie. The term of office for the Board starts after the summer plenary session and lasts a year.

More about the Board

Content-wise, its work is supported by the Council of Die Junge Akademie. It advises the members and connects Die Junge Akademie within science, art and society. The up to seven Council members are elected for three years and come from various scientific and artistic disciplines as well as other areas of society, science management and science policy. Alumni of Die Junge Akademie are also regularly involved.

More about the Council

The office in Berlin provides practical project support and is responsible for administrative and organisational tasks.

More about the office

Institutional integration and funding

Die Junge Akademie is owned by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. During the first ten years of its existence it was classified as a project within the BBAW and was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and, until 2005, by the Volkswagen Foundation.

Since 2011, Die Junge Akademie has been institutionalised and permanently incorporated in an administrative sense in the Leopoldina’s budget (see also History). Today Die Junge Akademie is funded 90 percent by the BMBF, with the State of Saxony-Anhalt and the BBAW each contributing a further 5 percent.

History

Die Junge Akademie was launched on 30 June 2000, initially for 10 years. Its work began with the founders’ criticism of the deficiencies of the German academic system, which offers young academics little opportunity to develop freely or help shape the academic system. Paul Baltes, then Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin as well as a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, turned to the then BBAW President Dieter Simon with a first draft regarding the establishment of a “Nachwuchsakademie" in 1996.

He had the draft work incorporated into the preparations of the BBAW’s 300th anniversary celebration and presented the idea, with the help of the then Leopoldina President Benno Partheier, to relevant institutions. When it was launched on 30 June 2000, Die Junge Akademie was initially planned to last 10 years as a joint project of the BBAW and the Leopoldina and was established at the BBAW. The Federal Minister for Education and Research at the time, Edelgard Bulmahn, took on the patronage. Start-up funding of 1.2 million Deutschmarks was provided by the Volkswagen Foundation, and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) approved initial funds for five years. Die Junge Akademie was evaluated as a success in 2007, in 2010 there was a positive decision regarding its continuance, and in 2011 Die Junge Akademie was institutionalised. Since then it has been a permanent part of the Leopoldina budget. Today Die Junge Akademie is funded 90 percent by the BMBF, with the State of Saxony-Anhalt and the BBAW each contributing a further 5 percent. While it might have still been cautiously referred to as an “experiment” when it was opened in 2000 by Dieter Simon, Die Junge Akademie is considered a model of success today. Since its establishment, more than 30 Young Academies have been founded worldwide. Die Junge Akademie, the original German Young Academy, set the example for these and was on hand to provide advice. It thus maintains the tradition of scientific academies and teaching associations in that it makes them more accessible to the younger generation.

Founding Speeches (in German)

  • „Aber wir können und dürfen nicht übersehen, daß unser Privileg sich gegen die Wissenschaftlerkarrieren der Jüngeren zu wenden droht. Die Entfaltung des Nachwuchses wird verlangsamt. Er wird zu spät selbständig und zu lange gerontokratisch beherrscht oder paternalistisch betreut. In der geistigen Blüte seiner Jahre hat er nur wenig Möglichkeiten sich autonom und institutionell abgesichert in den Wissenschaftsprozess einzubringen und diesen – und damit seine Zukunft! – mitzugestalten.“

    Zur Festansprache von Dieter Simon

  • „Die Grundlagen und Denkmuster, das Herangehen an die Probleme, die zwischen den sogenannten zwei Kulturen (Geisteswissenschaften und Naturwissenschaften) liegen, haben sich über Generationen unterschiedlich entwickelt. Diskursfaszination auf der einen Seite und nüchterne Forschungsplanung auf der anderen Seite nicht nur zusammen zu bringen, sondern auch kooperativ wirksam werden zu lassen, wird also nicht einfach sein. Gerade deshalb ist der Anreiz groß. Es ist doch ermutigend zu wissen, dass jüngere Menschen flexibler ans Werk gehen als ältere; deshalb waren erstere schon zu allen Zeiten die Hoffnungsträger der letzteren. Die Frage steht also nicht, ob, sondern wie anzupacken ist."

    Zur Festansprache von Benno Parthier

  • „Und doch gibt es zu solchem wissenschaftlichen Arbeiten über die herkömmlichen disziplinären Grenzziehungen hinweg in vielen Bereichen kaum mehr eine vernünftige Alternative: Das Neue, das uns weiterführt und weiterhilft, entsteht offenkundig mehr und mehr an den Rändern der etablierten Disziplinen und nicht unbedingt in ihrem Kern-, vielleicht sollte man besser sagen: ihrem „Lehrbuch-Bereich“. Die drängenden Probleme, bei denen sich die Gesellschaft mit Recht und guten Gründen von der Wissenschaft Antworten und Hilfeleistung erwartet – sie tun uns ja ohnehin nicht mehr den Gefallen, in handlicher disziplinärer Portionierung aufzutreten. Und dies gilt keineswegs nur für die Schlüsselfragen von Klima und Umwelt.

    Was also Not tut, ist zunächst einmal das fachübergreifende Gespräch als Grundlage einer substanziellen, sich nicht mit bloßen Etikettierungen zufrieden gebenden interdisziplinären Zusammenarbeit.“

    Zum Grußwort von Wilhelm Krull

  • „In diesen Fragen empfinden wir als Junge Akademie es als unsere direkte Verantwortung und als eine Chance, Stellung zu nehmen und uns aktiv in die Diskussion und Ausgestaltung dieser wesentlichen gesellschaftlichen Veränderungen einzubringen, zumal wir und unsere Kinder in den nächsten Jahrzehnten direkt von den Auswirkungen dieser Entwicklungen betroffen sein werden. Vor dem Hintergrund einer sich gerade in einem rasanten Wandel befindenden Gesellschaft kam unter den Mitgliedern die Frage nach möglichen Zukunftsvisionen für unsere Gesellschaft und für die Rolle der Wissenschaft in dieser Gesellschaft auf.“

    Zum Zwischenruf des Vorstands