At the start of 2010, the Royal Society of New Zealand made a landmark decision to extend and enhance its Academy to include researchers from across all disciplines of science, technology, social sciences and the humanities.
Increasingly at both national and international levels, there is a growing appreciation of the need for greater cross disciplinary dialogue to address the global problems that now occupy much of the research agenda. Historically, the early learned societies were composed of natural philosophers whose knowledge of the experimental sciences and the arts were intimately entangled. However, over the past 200 years, as the different disciplines have become increasingly specialised and esoteric, they have moved apart from each other. But science is a human construct and is locked at its heart to the arts and social sciences. And we are realising that our ability to contextualise new knowledge is essential to understanding our dynamic world. There is a quiet revolution taking place in the way we use, generate and transfer knowledge.
The enhanced Fellowship at the centre of the Royal Society of New Zealand mirrors the situation in many of the world’s leading academies. This strengthening of capacity enables the Royal Society of New Zealand to provide a significant contribution to present and emerging debates and to encourage wider national discussion of the issues that face our world.