The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium is an autonomous scientific-cultural society that promotes scholarship, science and the arts and contributes to their appeal. As an Academy, it is unique in that, apart from the sciences and the humanities, it also embraces the arts and the engineering sciences. As a result of this interdisciplinary approach, the KVAB is well-positioned to promote the great value of science and the arts.
With the exception of the medical sciences, all scholarly and scientific fields are represented: the exact, technical, natural, social and applied sciences, the humanities and the arts. Attention is paid to both the processes and the products of science. The Academy has entered into an agreement with the Flemish Government and receives funds to develop activities in three different areas: the internal activities of the Academy, its international profile and its interaction with society.
The internal activities are the foundation of the Academy. We come forward as the leading forum for Flemish scientists and artists. We pride ourselves on a strong reputation based on our own activities and our members’ active involvement. The Academy consists of four Classes - natural sciences, humanities, the arts and technical sciences - each of which comprises some 75 members. The members are elected by co-option - usually when they are in their 40s or 50s – and remain members for life.
The scientists, artists and business leaders from the various disciplines are introduced to each other's ideas during Class meetings and more informal encounters. This interdisciplinary mix counteracts the fragmentation and specialization typical of science and the arts, and facilitates innovation.
The members, often organized in smaller committees and working groups, and supported by the Academy’s staff, develop Position Papers, coordinate cycles of the Thinkers’ Programme, act as jury members in awarding prizes and organize presentations, colloquia, concerts and exhibitions.
The Academy actively interacts with the various actors in the social debate on important societal challenges. This interaction strengthens the support for science and the arts in society. In addition, it motivates individuals to engage in science or the arts.
The Academy also offers answers and alternatives with regard to potential policy challenges by means of the Thinkers’ Programme (since 2013) and the series of publications, called Position Papers.
Support for the social debate on energy is provided by the Energy Reflection Group, which combines all initiatives regarding today’s energy issues.
The Academy has also explicitly been tasked to take care of the publication of the Nationaal Biografisch Woordenboek (National Biographical Dictionary - NBW), a duty it has carried out since 1964.
Furthermore, the Academy supports other scientific institutions and concerns that undertake scientific research. It offers them logistical support at the Palace of the Academies, where they are encouraged to organize scientific meetings, symposia, lectures, exhibitions or concerts.
The Academy recognizes the merits of scientists and artists by awarding a wide range of prizes.
The Academy has concluded bilateral agreements with a number of foreign Academies to promote scientific exchanges. This allows individual Flemish scientists to enter into short-term exchanges with foreign colleagues (in one of the countries with which an agreement has been concluded).
Cooperation between French- and Dutch-speaking researchers is facilitated by the National Committees. The Academy supports the coordination of meetings, funding and missions of the national committees. The purpose of this collaboration is to guarantee the representation of Flanders in international scientific circles.
The Academy also actively participates in existing international collaborations between Academies.
Brussels offers enormous added value as a central meeting place in Europe, and also places Flemish research in an international context. The Academy enjoys particularly close ties with EASAC and ALLEA and actively participates in SAPEA.