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What role can and should science play in the process of global change? The Leopoldina’s annual assembly, held from 22 to 24 September at Langenbeck Virchow House in Berlin, included 28 talks dedicated to answering this question. Due to the financial crisis, climate change and population growth, the world we live in is changing fast, with dramatic consequences for nature and humankind. “But where there is danger, a rescuing element grows as well”, said Leopoldina President Prof. Jörg Hacker ML in his concluding speech, quoting German poet Friedrich Hölderlin. With these words he emphasised that science can provide solutions to cope with the changes and challenges ahead.
In his talk at the start of the three-day annual assembly, academic organiser Prof. Detlev Drenckhahn ML (Würzburg) defined the term global change as consisting of three categories: environmental change, demographic change, and globalisation in general. He set the focus of the annual assembly on environmental change, to fit with the Leopoldina’s particular expertise in this area. The talks were widely varied and included analyses of the present situation, descriptions of the challenges ahead, approaches to solving them and discussions of the consequences for social policy.
After welcoming addresses by Dr Georg Schütte, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and Marco Tullner, State Secretary at the State of Saxony-Anhalt’s Ministry of Science and Economics, climate researcher Dr Thomas Mölg (Berlin) was awarded the Leopoldina Early Career Award. Dr Mölg then presented his research on developing models to simulate and predict complex interactions in highly intricate systems.