The Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities is the umbrella organisation of eight German academies of sciences and humanities. The member academies comprise a total of over 1,900 scholars of diverse subjects, all of whom are outstanding representatives of their research fields, both nationally and internationally. Together they are committed to promoting scientific exchange, excellence in research, and supporting young early-stage researchers in the sciences and humanities.
The Union coordinates the Academies’ Programme, currently the most comprehensive humanities and cultural sciences research programme in Germany. In addition, the Union promotes the exchange of information and experience between academies, and conducts press and public engagement activities. It also organises events on current issues in science and research as well as the so-called Akademientag (“Academy Open Day”). Furthermore, the Union represents the German academies of sciences and humanities abroad and sends delegates to national and international science organisations.
The tradition of collaboration between German speaking academies is over 120 years old. In 1893, academies of sciences and humanities in the German language area formed the so-called “Cartel” in Leipzig in order to engage in collaborative research projects. In 1940 the National Socialists turned the Cartel into the Reichsverband der deutschen Akademien (“National Association of German Academies”). After the Second World War, the Göttingen Academy initiated the first presidents’ meeting. Several years later, the Association of West German Academes was founded, which changed its name to the Conference of German Academies in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1967. In 1973 the Conference was issued with a statute that has been subject to several revisions since. Almost two decades later, the Conference reorganised itself to form a registered association renamed the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities in 1998.
The Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities has been a member of the Council for German Orthography since 2002 where it is represented by Prof. Dr Klaus-Peter Wegera, a scholar from the Ruhr University of Bochum and a member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
In cooperation with the German Academy for Language and Literature, the Union of German Academies makes a key contribution to public debates surrounding the development of the German language with the regular publication of the Bericht zur Lage der deutschen Sprache (“Report on the State of the German Language”). The first Report was published in 2013 with the aim of providing scholarly expertise on topics of particular interest in the public sphere.
Since 2007, the Union of the German Academies has been among the sponsors of the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, which offers funding and networking opportunities for outstanding young researchers in Germany. The Union is represented on the Foundation’s board of directors by its president, and on the executive board by its general secretary.
The president of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities further represents the Union in numerous national and international institutions, e.g. on the board of trustees of the German Research Council, in the senate of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, on the board of trustees of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (an association of German research foundations), and on the executive committee of the InterAcademy Panel (IAP).
In collaboration with the Max Weber Foundation, the Union of German Academies hosts a series of events called Geisteswissenschaft im Dialog (“Humanities in Dialogue”) which discuss current issues related to science, culture, and society.
Under the lead of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and in cooperation with acatech, the German Academy of Science and Technology, the Union’s member academies also act as scientific advisory bodies on matters of politics and society.
The Union of German Academies has also organised a series of working groups on central issues of science and research, as well as on digitalisation and electronic publishing.