I have recently started as the Project Manager for an assessment project of the international activities of the Council of Finnish Academies. Most of the Council’s activities are international; the focus in this project is the cooperation in the various scientific organisations, where the Council represents Finland. These organisations include, for example, All European Academies (ALLEA) and European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) in Europe as well as International Council for Science (ICSU) and Interacademy Partnership IAP in the global context. The list of all memberships can be found here
International science organisations offer a platform for wide-based dialogues on academia and science & policy interfaces. Finnish participation in these fora is coordinated through the Council of Finnish Academies. While different organisations have somewhat varied objectives, most can generally be said to engage in science advocacy and in promoting the views and recommendations of the science community in national and international policy-making. Typically, statements and reports are prepared in working groups and committees within the organisations, and a number of Finnish scholars participate in this work as delegates named by the Council of Finnish Academies.
To a lesser extent, the assessment also takes into account the scientific unions, each concerned with a particular discipline or branch of science. In the unions Finland is represented through national committees of the various disciplines. The activities of the national committees, which are coordinated by the Council of Finnish Academies, were reviewed in 2015, and the data and results of this review can be utilised in current assessment project.
The purpose of the current project is to evaluate the benefits and effectiveness of international cooperation with the scientific organisations. How extensively is Finland represented in the organs and positions of trust in the international organisations, how well does the Council make use of its memberships and the possibilities they bring? Conversely, how effectively does the Council convey information from the international organisations to Finland?
Material for the assesment consists of documents, such as minutes of the Council meetings and strategy papers for the various organisations, as well as of interviews with former and present delegates. Two months into the project, I am starting build up a picture of the international activities of the Council. This is made easier by the fact that in 2014 I worked in the Council secretariat as maternity leave substitute for the science secretary and therefore am familiar with the field. Yet I realise how much I have learned by analysing the documents, and look forward to learning more as I begin the interviews this month.
Petra Autio, PhD