The Academy of Sciences and Literature | Mainz is a non-university research institution and scholarly society. As one of the eight academies of science in Germany, which are united in the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities, its objectives are both the cultivation of the sciences and literature and the preservation and promotion of culture. Currently, the Academy supervises 37 research projects from all disciplines with a focus on long-term basic research. In addition, it is dedicated to promoting young researchers, digitizing research data and findings, and promoting international cooperation.
The roots of the Academy can be traced back to the foundation of the ›Brandenburg Electoral Society of Sciences‹ by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in 1700. The latter resulted in foundation of the ›Prussian Academy of Sciences‹ and, after World War II, the ›Academy of Sciences of the GDR‹ and the ›Academy of Sciences and Literature of Mainz‹. Leibniz' concern, to which the seal of the Mainz Academy with the motto ›Genio Leibnitii‹ (In the spirit of Leibniz) refers, was the association of outstanding scientists from all disciplines for the promotion of interdisciplinary top-level research and for dialogue on relevant questions about the present and future of society.
The idea of founding an Academy of Sciences and Literature in West Germany was born in 1949 among former members of the Prussian Academy. After World War II, they wanted to continue their research and projects in the newly founded Federal Republic. Allies for the foundation of the Academy were found in the French occupation zone. Particular mention should be made of General Raymond Schmittlein as well as Alfred Döblin. Schmittlein had already promoted the reconstruction of the University of Mainz and the founding of the Institute for European History. Döblin - having returned from exile - worked as a cultural officer in Baden-Baden and also had the reestablishment of the Prussian Academy of Arts and its Poetry Section in mind.
On 9 July 1949, an Academy of Sciences was founded, which, due to a special feature, occupied a singular position in the German academic landscape. In addition to a mathematics and natural sciences class and a humanities and social sciences class, the academy also included a class of literature (now expanded to include music). From the very beginning, the newly founded academy was based in Mainz, where it is still located today.
The Academy is headed by the President, assisted by a Vice-President and a full-time Secretary General elected by the three classes. Each of the three classes can elect up to 50 full members from all over Germany, representing the broadest possible spectrum of subjects and number among the leading scientists in their field. Many of the members have received numerous awards: Niels Bohr, Otto Hahn, Konrad Lorenz, Halldór Laxness, Saul Bellow, Heinrich Böll, Jean-Marie Lehn and others were honoured with the Nobel Prize.
Place of Research
The Academy is a public corporation with employer status. Like all German Academies of Sciences, it is an interdisciplinary society of scholars that transcends national borders, on the one hand, and a sponsor of research projects from all disciplines, on the other hand. The Academy's work focuses on long-term basic research in the humanities. The projects' funding period is 12 years minimum and 25 years maximum. The Academy currently supervises 37 projects with around 200 employees in eleven of the overall sixteen federal states of Germany. These projects are of supra-regional importance and of national scientific interest.
Place of Dialogue
Sessions, where members of all three classes meet for an interdisciplinary discourse, take place four times a year. In addition, there are public lectures with subsequent discussions as well as symposia and conferences that emerge from the research environment of the members and projects of the Academy and deal with current topics. In the series ›Future Issues of Society‹, high-ranking experts deal with interdisciplinary issues such as globalisation, biomedical ethics, climate change, religious issues or the ageing of our society. The answers to those questions also provide insights for politics and society. Additionally, symposia on topics such as ›Perspectives on Future Energy Supply‹, the euro crisis or questions of fundamentalism are taking up current debates.
Since its foundation, the Academy of Sciences and Literature | Mainz has been located on the outskirts of the upper town of Mainz. The original temporary building has been transformed into a stately building, divided into three wings that enclose the garden of the Academy in a U-shape. The building's original part from the 1940s forms the centrepiece. In 1960 the plenary hall was added according to a design by the architect Walter Henn. At the beginning of the 1980s, a new building for the administration and the project workplaces was erected in the form of a block facing Geschwister-Scholl-Straße.