The Science Years, which were launched in 2000 by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German science initiative "Science in Dialogue“, promote dialogue between researchers and the public, and give people an understanding of current scientific developments. Each Science Year focuses on a different topic. The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina stages several events during each Science Year.
Human beings have always used natural resources such as plants, animals or microorganisms to produce food, clothing, heat or light. Today, in light of the growing world population, dwindling biodiversity, advancing climate changes and shifting consumer needs, we are particularly challenged to use these resources efficiently and sustainably. This is where bio-economy comes into play, intending to generate and use biological resources and biological knowledge to meet our demands for raw materials, products, and services.
Computers defeat humans in a game of chess, analyze complex data in a matter of seconds and even help with the diagnosis of diseases: Artificial intelligence (AI) makes all this possible. It holds the potential to support people and improve many areas of our lives. At the same time, every artificial intelligence needs limits. After all, it must serve humankind and follow legal and ethical guidelines. To ensure success, it is important to discuss the opportunities and risks of AI early on.
Technical progress is changing the way we work. Digitalization is altering job profiles and work places, new work-time models influence our coexistence. Artificial intelligence increasingly shapes the daily work routine and brings new opportunities as well as challenges for society. What will work be like in the future? How does a society prepare for a changing working life? What is the role of science in the design of new work environments?
Seas and oceans cover two-thirds of the earth´s surface. They form a system about which only very little is known. This means that practically every expedition leads to new findings. The use of maritime resources and the influence of people on the seas and their ecosystems is the focus of the “Science Year 2016*17 - Seas and Oceans”.
Cities are the most popular place to live for most people today. The number of urban dwellers is increasing daily. Life in the city is attractive, not least thanks to the results of science and research. Scientific findings will become even more important for people in cities to lead autonomous lives in future. The internationally renowned urban planner Jaime Lerner once said that cities are the solution, not the problem. This was the rationale of 'Science Year 2015 – City of the Future'.
Digital technologies play an important role in our lives whether in everyday household devices, in communication, in science or in industry. Science Year 2014 was dedicated to the topic “The Digital Society”. The rapid developments taking place in this sector were the focus of national attention in 2014. What opportunities do they present? What questions are raised?
The Science Year 2013 was dedicated to Demographic Change. Core aspects of change in society – “We are growing older. There are fewer of us. We will be more diverse” – were discussed in a number of events such as the Bürgerkonferenzen all over Germany. In recent years, the joint academy groups “Aging in Germany” and “Future with Children” have already drawn up statements and recommendations on these topics.
The motto in 2012 was “Project Earth: Our Future”. The year was dedicated to sustainability research. It is essential for scientists from a very wide range of disciplines to cooperate in order to thoroughly understand the concept of sustainability in terms of a duty to safeguard ecological equilibrium, economic security and social justice. The Science Year 2012 created a superb forum for dialogue on these questions. The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina took advantage of the opportunity provided by the Science Year to hold public discussion events.
The Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our Health – focuses on the human being and launches an interdisciplinary dialogue in society about the objectives, challenges and fields of modern health research. Core objectives were, among others, Widespread diseases and demographic change, Differentiated medicine or Prevention and nutrition. The Leopoldina offered public events in this context such as a fishbowl discussion on preimplantation genetic diagnostics.