According to the State Agreement signed in August 1992, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities serves to promote the sciences. It cooperates with other academies and scientific institutions at home and abroad.
Under the direction of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina) in Halle/Saale, and in conjunction with acatech, the German Academy of Science and Engineering (Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften), as well as the other seven German academies, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities operates in accordance with the tasks set by the National Academy. In collaboration with the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina), the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities established The Young Academy in 2000. At the time it constituted the only institution of its kind to support outstanding young German scientists and scholars; in the meantime, similar institutions have been modelled on it at home and abroad.
The Academy supervises some 30 long-term Academy Projects.
Some 30 long-term projects make the Academy the largest non-university research institution with a profile in the humanities in the region. These projects of cultural-scientific nature include large German and foreign-language dictionaries; historical-critical editions of ancient, medieval, and modern texts and sources; “classic” works from diverse scientific fields; as well as a number of documentations. These include the Dictionary of Ancient Egyptian (Altägyptisches Wörterbuch), the Digital Dictionary of the German Language (Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache), critical editions of the works of Leibniz and Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt, of the publications, manuscripts and correspondence of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and of Kant’s complete works, and also the Corpus Coranicum – a documentation of the text of the Koran in its oral and manuscript transmission.
Through interdisciplinary research groups and initiatives, the Academy’s research extends beyond individual academic fields, uniting separate disciplines.
In a rather innovative form for the academic world in Germany, Academy members work on interdisciplinary projects with external and talented young experts on issues relevant to the future of society. Their findings are presented to the public in research reports and memoranda. Central fields include the monitoring of short and long-term scientific developments in Germany – Scientific Policy Advice in Democracies, The German Excellence Initiative: Its Effects on the German University System, On the Future of Education in Technological and Natural Sciences in Europe, Gene Technology Report and the assessment of health standards, Global Change – Regional Development, Integration of Elites, or Fertility and Societal Development.
The Academy provides advice on issues of importance to society.
Topics of particular scientific and social interest are explored by Academy members, external experts and young scientists, and presented to the general public in, for instance, research reports and memoranda. The Academy is active in advising government and the public on topics of particular scientific and social interest, which are explored by Academy members, external experts and young researchers, and are presented for public debate in the form of research reports, memoranda and recommendations. For instance, the reports by the research group on genetic engineering laid the groundwork needed for an unprejudiced and open-minded debate on genetic technology in Germany. The Academy has spoken up by presenting position papers on the health system and the humanities, and by creating guidelines for providing policy advice, and it has taken a stand on new approaches in stem cell research. In the context of the initiatives of the National Academy, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities has contributed to recommendations such as those on ‘green genetic engineering’ and in setting priorities in energy research.
The Academy encourages the dialogue between science and society in a variety of ways.
Assorted events are held to emphazise this mission; they include Leibniz Day and Einstein Day, the Sophie Charlotte Salon, the Academy Lecture, the Ernst Mayr Lecture, the Special Lecture, and the ZEIT Science Forum, as well as conferences on different research projects. The Academy also publishes the journal Gegenworte, which provides a platform for debating knowledge. With its initiative Academy and School and other individual activities, the Academy also addresses younger audiences. In addition, it has attempted to explore and present central issues by networking with other institutions on the following annual topics: Europe in the Middle East – the Middle East in Europe in 2007/2008, and Evolution in Nature, Technology and Culture in 2009/2010.