The Turkish Academy of Sciences

Founded in 1993

The Turkish Academy of Sciences was established on 2 September 1993. Before we look at the founding of this Academy we should mention the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey which was founded in 1963. This Research Council has many of the functions of an academy, running research institutes and was set up to develop policies for supporting and developing science, technology and innovation in Turkey and to "play a leading role in the creation of a science and technology culture." The bill setting up the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey was passed on 24 July 1963 and the first chairman of the council, the mathematician Cahit Arf, was appointed on 26 December 1963. Four funding committees were set up initially to support basic sciences, engineering, medicine, and agriculture. More funding committees have been added over time. I [EFR] would like personally to thank the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey for funding my research visit to the University of Çukurova, Adana, Turkey, in 1992.

The political situation in Turkey, with military coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980, meant that funding for science was difficult throughout this period. An important step in developing science research in Turkey was the Five Year Development Plan for the years 1979-1983 which laid the foundation for a much more significant step forward produced in the document "Turkish Science and Technology Policy: 1983-2003". This document proposed the setting up of the Supreme Council of Science and Technology whose aims, as set out in the Official Gazette, 1983, were:-
... to develop, implement, elaborate, coordinate and direct the scientific and technological research and development policies of Turkey in accordance with the economic development, social improvement and national security goals.
In the document "Turkish Science and Technology Policy: 1993-2003", among proposals to strengthen Turkey"s academic and research infrastructure, was a proposal to form a national science academy consisting of high-level academics. The Supreme Council of Science and Technology decided to follow the recommendation in this document and establish the Turkish Academy of Sciences. It was established in accordance with the Statutory Decree No. 497 on 2 September 1993 [1]:-
After the appointment of the founding members by the Prime Minister, the formation of the first general assembly, the election of the Chairman and Academy Council members and the appointment of the Chairman were completed the Academy began operating on 7 January 1994. In accordance with law the Turkish Academy of Sciences is a legal entity with scientific, administrative and financial autonomy which reports to the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology.
The Academy was founded with the following vision [1]:-
To be a science academy which gives direction to our country"s science policies as one of the most active and valued members of world science academies.
It had aims such as: (i) To carry out the studies which aim to give direction to science policies and provide a science-based consultancy service; (ii) To encourage scientists and their achievements by awarding prizes based on scientific quality; (iii) To encourage young people to become scientists; (iv) To guide the spreading of the scientific approach and thinking in Turkish society; (v) To be an active partner in the world science community; (vi) To actively lead in the application and development of Turkish as a language for science; and (vi) To strengthen international scientific collaboration representing Turkey internationally. The Statutes were set out to require the Academy to operate as follows [1]:-

  1. To investigate and provide consultation on scientific subjects and determining scientific priorities, 
  2. To help popularise scientific approach and thought in society, 
  3. To recommend changes in legislation to the Government on the social status of Turkish scientists and researchers, their living standards, their income and the special conveniences and privileges that are a requirement or such activities, 
  4. To ensure the acknowledgement and acceptance of the country"s public for the importance of science and to present rewards that encourage becoming a scientist, 
  5. To conduct all manner of activities and carry out all duties to realise the objectives specified above.
Changes to the Turkish Academy of Sciences were brought about in 2011. Up to that time the members of the Academy had been elected based on decisions made by the Academy itself. In August 2011 the method of election of members changed with one third being assigned by the Council of Ministers, one third assigned by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, and one third elected by the Academy. Mehmet Ali Alpar is a Turkish astrophysicist with a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in England. He received awards from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey in the 1980s, and served on the Council of the Turkish Academy of Sciences and the Scientific and Technological Research Council (1993-97). He resigned from the Turkish Academy of Sciences in 2011 and gave his reasons in [2] from which we quote the first paragraph:-
In August 2011 the Turkish Government issued a decree to bring in government appointments to the Turkish Academy of Sciences. This resulted in an appointed majority of members in the Turkish Academy of Sciences, many with mediocre academic records. 52 of the 82 formerly elected regular members of the Turkish Academy of Sciences resigned. A new academy, 'Bilim Akademisi' - the Science Academy was founded on 25 November 2011. These developments took place in a background of increasing political interference in publicly funded institutions as well as professional associations, non-governmental organisations and the media. Many academies throughout the world receive support from public funds. They are accountable financially but are independent in their academic and scientific activities, including, fundamentally, the election of their members. Academies and scientific societies can function as sources of reference and advice to the public and to governments on the basis of this independence.
Let us note that at present the Turkish Academy of Sciences has three mathematicians from a total of just under 200 members.

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. About us, Turkish Academy of Sciences.
  2. M Ali Alpar, Bilim Akademisi - the New Science Academy in Turkey, American Physical Society.
  3. The Turkish Academy of Sciences.
  4. The Turkish Academy of Sciences.

Last Updated September 2018