Europe seeks spotlight with research conference

June 21, 2002

Plans for the largest interdisciplinary research conference in Europe are being drawn up to highlight the continent's academic cutting edge.

Euroscience 2004, to be held in Stockholm in two years' time, is being supported by the journal Nature and the European Science Foundation, among other backers.

The organisers intend the conference to become the European equivalent of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which focuses international attention on US research. If successful, the event will be held every two years.

An alternative vision is being championed by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, which organises the annual Festival of Science.

It has applied to the European Commission for backing to share best practice and to promote linking themes for scientific meetings held on a national level.

Jill Nelson, the BA's director of science communication, said: "It would be much more helpful to fund people around Europe than to fund a whole new infrastructure of a new event."

Carl Sundberg, associate professor at the Karolinska Institute and project director of Euroscience 2004, argued that the meeting would raise the profile of the continent's research.

"We would like to establish this as a platform for dialogue in science, a way to make people more aware of its role in society and perhaps question a lot of the things that science does or should do," he said.

He added that it would also lend support to the concept of a European research area.

The meeting will bring together European academics, policy-makers and the media to discuss the latest research across a broad spectrum of science, technology and the humanities.

A call for proposed speakers will be issued in autumn.

This year's BA Festival of Science is being held in September in Leicester with science and quality of life as its theme.

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