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About the Society
The future of any advanced society depends on the fostering of the knowledge and capabilities of its people. Research and scholarship are essential and fundamental factors here. Universities and a range of other public- and private-sector organisations have an important role to play in this regard, including – indeed, especially – learned societies of scholars. Such learned academies exist in virtually all advanced societies, helping to set the highest international standards in scholarship and research.
Within the United Kingdom, learned societies operate at British level through such venerable institutions as the Royal Society (the world’s oldest scientific academy, established by Royal Charter in 1660) and the British Academy (the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences, which received its Charter in 1902). They have also long been established as key national bodies that embrace the full range of academic disciplines, both in Scotland (where the Royal Society of Edinburgh was established in 1783) and in Ireland (where the Royal Irish Academy received its Charter in 1785). Other major English-speaking countries like the USA and Canada and the larger European states also have long-established learned societies and academies. More recently, the proliferation of independent nationalities across Europe has been accompanied by the establishment of learned societies in virtually all those newly-emergent countries (including the Baltic states and many of the smaller Balkan countries). Most recently, the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences was launched in April 2010.
And yet Wales lacked any such national society of learning. This not only meant that Wales’s intellectual capability was not properly represented or promoted on the international stage; it was also the case that its people, politicians and policy-makers, and businesses did not have access to well-researched, scholarly and objective advice on issues of key importance in the way that those in other countries have had. Especially given the context of devolution, in recent years, it became clearer than ever before that Wales needed an organisation that was able:
- to demonstrate, celebrate and disseminate the excellence of Welsh research and scholarship;
- to reflect and enhance Wales’s maturity as a nation and help raise the country’s profile across the United Kingdom, and internationally;
- to serve and provide advice to the nation; and
- to provide a link between academia, industry and commerce, and policy-makers.
It was in order to address and remedy this deficit that The Learned Society of Wales was established in May 2010.