On July 20–21 Helena Filipsson and Robert Lagerström participated in the third Worldwide Meeting of Young Academies in Johannesburg, South Africa. The meeting was preceded by the Annual (South African) Young Scientist’s Conference on 19 July 2017. Read Helena Filipsson and Robert Lagerström's report from the exciting meeting and conference here!
On the first day at the Annual Young Scientist Conference, some really interesting presentations and discussions especially on gender equality issues in African academic environments were held. After the conference a visit to the Apartheid museum together with delegates from the Young Academies of Latvia, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Poland took place. The museum was mind blowing, both heavy and sad but also inspiring. A must visit if ever in Johannesburg.
The second day when the World Wide Meeting of Young Academies began, we enjoyed presentations from selected young academies including the Young Academy of Sweden ; scientific presentations describing how national young academies can affect the United Nation’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), break out sessions focusing on collaboration, a very important discussion on gender equality and equity, and a poster session presenting experiences from selected national young academies and various related research results. The day ended with a fun drumming lesson and dinner.
The last day started with a break out session where regional (Europe, Asia, and Africa) national academies discussed opportunities and barriers for collaboration. This was followed by a discussion about science leadership. In the afternoon, we visited a local high school to engage in science activities together with the pupils. The science outreach setup was interesting, first two simple experiments which were executed in groups. Afterwards a question and answer session where held where both pupils and scientists asked and answered questions. This setup was very good and inspirational; something to think about in the Academy’s outreach activities.
Our main takeaways from the meeting are that the national young academies have very different opportunities and barriers to execute their work, e.g. travel visa difficulties, shortage of funding schemas, lack of independence, and discrimination. At the same time it is extremely promising and encouraging to participate in the discussions and hear about the hard work being done in the national young academies. It is important that the Young Academy of Sweden continues to actively participate in the worldwide meetings and that Young Academy of Sweden members are encouraged to contribute. We learn a lot, Young Academy of Sweden's visibility increases, and we pick up ideas for new activities. At the same time it is important that we, as a rather established young academy, share our experiences and help other young academies to get organized and structured etc, when possible.
The meeting had a tight schedule with scientific presentations also during dinner in the evening. Luckily it was possible to visit the science center at the Cradle of Humankind, the Sterkfontein Caves (where an almost complete skeleton of the hominid Australopithecus, Little Foot, was found), and the Constitutional Hill on the same day as flying back to Sweden.
The conference was documented on twitter: #wwmya2017