Ever since it was created, the Academy has being resolutely committed to the advancement of science and has advised government authorities in those matters and issues deemed within its remit. It is a double calling that has been reinforced over time, as and when our knowledge-base itself progressed. Today, the Academy's Members discharge their missions, to the Nation and the Academy's foundations, in standing committees and working parties set up by the Academy.
Encouraging the scientific life
Knowledge production - where the motivation is to see possible new applications or simply curiosity-driven- is vital to the economic and cultural dynamics of any Nation. The Academy supports research in France in the following ways, by:
• Taking part in debates on topical science-related issues;
• Organizing national or international scientific conferences;
• Awarding Prizes and Medals financed through the Academy's foundations, often with contributions by individuals sponsors, families or companies; these awards distinguish the most meritorious scientists and promising research projects;
• Electing new Members, including Foreign Associate Members;
• Publishing the Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des sciences, created in 1835 for the international scientific community.
Promoting the teaching of science
Learning to reason correctly and becoming educated in sciences are essential ingredients to ensuring that future citizens acquire a healthy, critical mind and that the science communities are renewed to a high level of excellence. The Academy contributes to this mission, by:
• Organizing studies as to how science is taught today, from primary schools to the university level;
• Encouraging the La Main à la pâte ® programme, used in primary and secondary schools, which serves as a basis for a scientific co-operation foundation assisting in teacher training in science curricula;
• Playing its part in setting up a network of academic scientific advisors for the regional educational authorities;
• Offering financial support to promising secondary school graduates who continue studying science.
Scientific communities owe it to Society to explain and share new knowledge. The Academy plays its part in dissemination scientific culture, by:
• Organizing public sessions, where major scientific problems can be openly debated;
• Providing a general public bilingual Internet site, a resource center for its activities and achievements;
• Publishing a quarterly letter, a shop-window to Academy's thought and questions;
• Taking part in a twinning operation between scientists and Parliamentarians, this activity contributing to build stronger links between science and society;
• Conserving its archives, part of France's scientific heritage;
• Opening, manning and maintaining museums called the 'Maisons des Illustres'.
Fostering international collaborations
Science per se is universal and the challenges the world faces are mostly of a global order. The Academy contributes to increased international scope for science, by:
• Initiating and organizing bi- or multilateral co-operation activities;
• Promoting and participating in international networks of Academies;
• Representing France in international scientific institutions and bodies.
Ensuring a dual role of expertise and advice
Arbitrating among possible scientific and technological options comes within the remit of elected politicians, but they must be enabled to do so, on sound, reasoned bases. The Academy is called upon by public authorities to intervene as an expert, advisory body; it can likewise self-commission studies on similar questions, as it sees fit. Its conclusions are duly published:
• in reports;
• in advice notes and recommendations;
• in the form of expertise, for which the Academy adopted a Charter of Expertise in 2012.
The French Académie des sciences and Africa
[first 6 paragraphs, viz., "articles" that set out the Academy's missions and aims]
Para. 1 - The Académie des sciences - Institut de France [hereinafter referred to as the Academy] brings together French scientists and Foreign Associate Members, where both the former and the latter are elected from among the most prominent in their fields. They contribute to achieving the aims of the Academy.
Para. 2 - The Academy is an independent, durably established institution, the primary aim of which is to encourages science and contribute to the advancement of the sciences and their applications:
- by studying social questions associated with the development of the sciences and formulates advice and recommendations, possibly with the involvement of other Academies,
- by being involved in the development of international scientific relations, notably within the European Union and in the representation abroad of research carried out in France,
- by monitoring the quality of the teaching of the sciences and works to ensure that the products of scientific development are integrated into contemporary culture,
- by encouraging the dissemination of science to the public at large,
- by diligently upholding the role and the quality of French scientific language.
Para. 3 - The Academy steadfastly reflects on the position occupied on the world stage by research undertaken in France, on organization of research, on the policy orientations of the scientific programmes and likewise, on technology and the applications of the sciences.
It carries out this activity alone or with other Academies:
- by undertaking studies through its own initiative or through commissioned work as requested by international, national or regional authorities,
- by addressing societal issues that have scientific aspects and by publicly taking a stance issuing detailed reports,
- by presenting recommendations, desires or suggestions appertaining to issues of national or international interest,
- when invited to do so, the Academy shall designate Members to represent it, on various councils or committees and shall offer its opinion in response to statutory requests, in regard to certain nominations made by the appropriate authorities.
The Academy makes known its conclusions in publications, press releases or by any other means that ensures wide dissemination of the same.
Para. 4 - The Academy plays an active role in the development of international scientific relations, notably on a European level,
- by establishing relations with foreign Academies which may lead to establishing joint structures, to agreements on co-operation and exchange of scholars, to organization of colloquia or joint publication of reports,
- by providing representatives for France to the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU),
- by electing foreign Associate Members,
- by maintaining co-operation with developing countries,
- by defending men and women of science who fall victim to violations of their human rights.
Para. 5 - The Academy, by virtue of its multidisciplinary approach and its interactions with other branches of knowledge, plays its part, within the framework of the Institut-de-France, in scientific life and provides support for the latter. In particular:
- by helping to define scientific and technological research policy by establishing and publishing reports,
- by publishing articles and overviews in its "Comptes rendus" [academic proceedings],
- by awarding prizes to research scientists and authors whom it wishes to reward or encourage,
- by awarding, every year, an international "Gold Medal",
- in its public scientific sessions,
- by organizing colloquia or conferences, on topical themes, occasionally in co-operation with other Academies,
- by registering and preserving "sealed envelopes" which may be used to establish anteriority of a discovery,
- by the conservation of documents in its archives, which contribute to knowledge related to the history of sciences and to progress of scientific thought.
Para. 6 - The Academy of Sciences constantly ensures that scientific culture and advances in knowledge are made accessible to all:
- by engaging in reflections on scientific education at all levels and proposing appropriate action,
- by promoting the European and international dimensions of education,
- through its commitment to provide information to the media and the general public, distinguishing what can be considered to be fact and what which remains hypothetical,
- by ensuring that ethical rules are respected in scientific activities,
- by working for the dissemination of science as an integral aspect of our culture.