American Academy of Arts and Sciences logo
|Formation||May 4, 1780|
|Type||Honorary society and independent research center|
|Headquarters||Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|more than 5,700 active members, across the United States and around the world|
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. Founded in 1780, the Academy is dedicated to honoring excellence and leadership, working across disciplines and divides, and advancing the common good.
Membership in the academy is achieved through a thorough petition, review, and election process and has been considered a high honor of scholarly and societal merit ever since the academy was founded during the American Revolution by John Adams, John Hancock, James Bowdoin, and others of their contemporaries who contributed prominently to the establishment of the new nation, its government, and the United States Constitution.
Today the Academy is charged with a dual function: to elect to membership the finest minds and most influential leaders, drawn from science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts, from each generation, and to conduct policy studies in response to the needs of society. Major Academy projects now have focused on higher education and research, humanities and cultural studies, scientific and technological advances, politics, population and the environment, and the welfare of children. Dædalus, the Academy's quarterly journal, is widely regarded as one of the world's leading intellectual journals.
The Academy carries out nonpartisan policy research by bringing together scientists, scholars, artists, policymakers, business leaders, and other experts to make multidisciplinary analyses of complex social, political, and intellectual topics. The Academy's current areas of work are Arts & Humanities, Democracy & Justice, Education, Energy & Environment, Global Affairs, and Science & Technology.
David W. Oxtoby began his term as the organization's president in January 2019. A chemist by training, he served as President of Pomona College from 2003 to 2017. He was elected a member of the American Academy in 2012.
The Academy is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Academy was established by the Massachusetts legislature on May 4, 1780. Its purpose, as described in its charter, is "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." The sixty-two incorporating fellows represented varying interests and high standing in the political, professional, and commercial sectors of the state. The first class of new members, chosen by the Academy in 1781, included Benjamin Franklin and George Washington as well as several international honorary members. The initial volume of Academy Memoirs appeared in 1785, and the Proceedings followed in 1846. In the 1950s, the Academy launched its journal Daedalus, reflecting its commitment to a broader intellectual and socially-oriented program.
Since the second half of the twentieth century, independent research has become a central focus of the Academy. In the late 1950s, arms control emerged as one of its signature concerns. The Academy also served as the catalyst in establishing the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. In the late 1990s, the Academy developed a new strategic plan, focusing on four major areas: science, technology, and global security; social policy and education; humanities and culture; and education. In 2002, the Academy established a visiting scholars program in association with Harvard University. More than 75 academic institutions from across the country have become Affiliates of the Academy to support this program and other Academy initiatives.
Charter members of the Academy are John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Bacon, James Bowdoin, Charles Chauncy, John Clarke, David Cobb, Samuel Cooper, Nathan Cushing, Thomas Cushing, William Cushing, Tristram Dalton, Francis Dana, Samuel Deane, Perez Fobes, Caleb Gannett, Henry Gardner, Benjamin Guild, John Hancock, Joseph Hawley, Edward Augustus Holyoke, Ebenezer Hunt, Jonathan Jackson, Charles Jarvis, Samuel Langdon, Levi Lincoln, Daniel Little, Elijah Lothrup, John Lowell, Samuel Mather, Samuel Moody, Andrew Oliver, Joseph Orne, Theodore Parsons, George Partridge, Robert Treat Paine, Phillips Payson, Samuel Phillips, John Pickering, Oliver Prescott, Zedekiah Sanger, Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant, Micajah Sawyer, Theodore Sedgwick, William Sever, David Sewall, Stephen Sewall, John Sprague, Ebenezer Storer, Caleb Strong, James Sullivan, John Bernard Sweat, Nathaniel Tracy, Cotton Tufts, James Warren, Samuel West, Edward Wigglesworth, Joseph Willard, Abraham Williams, Nehemiah Williams, Samuel Williams, and James Winthrop.
From the beginning, the membership, nominated and elected by peers, has included not only scientists and scholars, but also writers and artists as well as representatives from the full range of professions and public life. Throughout the Academy's history, 10,000 fellows have been elected, including such notables as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John James Audubon, Joseph Henry, Washington Irving, Josiah Willard Gibbs, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Willa Cather, T. S. Eliot, Edward R. Murrow, Jonas Salk, Eudora Welty, and Duke Ellington.
International honorary members have included Jose Antonio Pantoja Hernandez, Albert Einstein, Leonhard Euler, Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander von Humboldt, Leopold von Ranke, Charles Darwin, Otto Hahn, Jawaharlal Nehru, Pablo Picasso, Liu Kuo-Sung (Liu Guosong), Lucian Michael Freud, Galina Ulanova, Werner Heisenberg, Alec Guinness, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Menahem Yaari, Yitzhak Apeloig, Zvi Galil, Haim Harari, and Sebastião Salgado.
The current membership encompasses over 5,700 members based across the United States and around the world. Academy members include more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.
Classes and sections
The current membership is divided into five classes and twenty-four sections.
Class I – Mathematical and Physical Sciences
- Section 1. Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics
- Section 2. Physics
- Section 3. Chemistry
- Section 4. Astronomy (including Astrophysics) and Earth Science
- Section 5. Engineering Sciences and Technologies
- Section 6. Computer Sciences (including Artificial Intelligence and Information Technologies)
Class II – Biological Sciences
- Section 1. Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology
- Section 2. Cellular and Developmental Biology, Microbiology and Immunology (including Genetics)
- Section 3. Neurosciences, Cognitive Sciences, and Behavioral Biology
- Section 4. Evolutionary and Population Biology and Ecology
- Section 5. Medical Sciences (including Physiology and Pharmacology), Clinical Medicine, and Public Health
Class III – Social Sciences
- Section 1. Social and Developmental Psychology and Education
- Section 2. Economics
- Section 3. Political Science, International Relations, and Public Policy
- Section 4. Law (including the Practice of Law)
- Section 5. Archaeology, Anthropology, Sociology, Geography and Demography
Class IV – Arts and Humanities
- Section 1. Philosophy and Religious Studies
- Section 2. History
- Section 3. Literary Criticism (including Philology)
- Section 4. Literature (Fiction, Poetry, Short Stories, Nonfiction, Playwriting, Screenwriting and Translation)
- Section 5. Visual Arts and Performing Arts—Criticism and Practice
Class V – Public affairs, business, and administration
- Section 1. Journalism and Communications
- Section 2. Business, Corporate and Philanthropic Leadership
- Section 3. Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Philanthropic Administration
- 1780-1790 James Bowdoin
- 1791–1814 John Adams
- 1814–1820 Edward Augustus Holyoke
- 1820–1829 John Quincy Adams
- 1829–1838 Nathaniel Bowditch
- 1838–1839 James Jackson, M.D.
- 1839–1846 John Pickering
- 1846–1863 Jacob Bigelow
- 1863–1873 Asa Gray
- 1873–1880 Charles Francis Adams
- 1880–1892 Joseph Lovering
- 1892–1894 Josiah Parsons Cooke
- 1894–1903 Alexander Agassiz
- 1903–1908 William Watson Goodwin
- 1908–1915 John Trowbridge
- 1915–1917 Henry Pickering Walcott
- 1917–1919 Charles Pickering Bowditch
- 1919–1921 Theodore William Richards
- 1921–1924 George Foot Moore
- 1924–1927 Theodore Lyman
- 1927–1931 Edwin Bidwell Wilson
- 1931–1933 Jeremiah D. M. Ford
- 1933–1935 George Howard Parker
- 1935–1937 Roscoe Pound
- 1937–1939 Dugald C. Jackson
- 1939–1944 Harlow Shapley
- 1944–1951 Howard Mumford Jones
- 1951–1954 Edwin Herbert Land
- 1954–1957 John Ely Burchard
- 1957–1961 Kirtley Fletcher Mather
- 1961–1964 Hudson Hoagland
- 1964–1967 Paul A. Freund
- 1967–1971 Talcott Parsons
- 1971–1976 Harvey Brooks
- 1976–1979 Victor Frederick Weisskopf
- 1979–1982 Milton Katz
- 1982–1986 Herman Feshbach
- 1986–1989 Edward Hirsch Levi
- 1989–1994 Leo Beranek
- 1994–1997 Jaroslav Pelikan
- 1997–2000 Daniel C. Tosteson
- 2000–2001 James O. Freedman
- 2001–2006 Patricia Meyer Spacks
- 2006–2009 Emilio Bizzi
- 2010–2013 Leslie C. Berlowitz In July 2013 the Boston Globe exposed then president Leslie Berlowitz for falsifying her credentials, faking a doctorate, and consistently mistreating her staff.
- 2014–2018 Jonathan Fanton
- 2019– David W. Oxtoby
Visiting Scholars Program: An interdisciplinary research fellowship at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose purposes are to stimulate and support scholarly work by promising scholars and practitioners in the early stages of their careers, and to foster exchange between an emerging generation of scholars and Academy members with shared interests.
Hellman Fellowship in Science and Technology Policy: A research fellowship for early-career professionals with training in science or engineering who are interested in transitioning to careers in public policy and administration. While in residence at the Academy's headquarters, the Hellman Fellow works with senior scientists and policy experts on critical national and international policy issues related to science, engineering, and technology.
- Scholar-Patriot Award
This award, founded in 2000, recognizes the extraordinary contributions of individuals who share the commitment of the Academy's founders, a group of patriots who devoted their lives to promoting the arts and sciences in service to the nation.
- Founders Award
Established in the Academy's 225th anniversary year, this award honors men, women and institutions that have advanced the ideals of the Academy's founders, and that embody the founders's commitment to intellectual inquiry, leadership and active engagement.
- Amory Prize
Awarded since 1940, this prize recognizes major contributions to reproductive biology. It is supported by an endowment established by Mr. Francis Amory.
- Emerson-Thoreau Medal
Established in 1958 for special recognition of distinguished achievement in the broad field of literature. Given at the discretion of the Council of the Academy on the recommendation of a nominating committee headed by Aniruddh Gyanchandane, the prize is awarded to a person for his or her total literary achievement rather than for a specific work.
- Award for Humanistic Studies
Established in 1975 by the Council of the Academy in an attempt to ensure that superior humanistic scholarship, despite its lower visibility to the general reading public, receives appropriate recognition. It complements the Emerson-Thoreau Medal for achievement in literature. Both awards are administered by a single committee of seven Academy members.
- Rumford Prize
Established in 1839, one of the oldest scientific prizes in the United States, recognizing contributions to the fields of heat and light (broadly interpreted). The award now consists of a silver-and-gold medal. The endowment was created by a bequest to the Academy from Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, in 1796.
- Talcott Parsons Prize
First awarded in 1974, this prize was established to honor the noted sociologist and former president of the Academy, and is given for contributions to the social sciences (broadly defined). An effort is made to rotate the prize among social science disciplines, including law, history, and linguistics.
- Poetry Prize in Honor of May Sarton
Presented for the first time in 2008, this prize recognizes emerging poets of exceptional promise and distinguished achievement. It was established to honor the memory of longtime Academy Fellow May Sarton, a poet, novelist, and teacher who encouraged young poets.
- Arts and Sciences Advocacy Award
In 2014, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences was awarded the Arts and Sciences Advocacy Award from the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS). CCAS bestows this award upon an individual or organization demonstrating exemplary advocacy for the arts and sciences, flowing from a deep commitment to the intrinsic worth of liberal arts education.
The Humanities Indicators
A project of the Academy that equips researchers, policymakers, universities, foundations, museums, libraries, humanities councils, and other public institutions with statistical tools for answering basic questions about primary and secondary humanities education, undergraduate and graduate education in the humanities, the humanities workforce, levels and sources of program funding, public understanding and impact of the humanities, and other areas of concern in the humanities community. It is modeled on the Science and Engineering Indicators, published biennially by the National Science Board as required by Congress.
- American Philosophical Society
- National Academy of Engineering
- National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine)
- National Academy of Sciences
- "Academy Bylaws - American Academy of Arts & Sciences". Archived from the original on 2017-06-02. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
- Kershaw, G. E. (2014). American Academy of arts and sciences. In M. Spencer (Ed.), The Bloomsbury encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment. London, UK: Bloomsbury.
- "Yale Faculty Named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences". Yale University. 2004-05-04.
- "About the Academy". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 2012-09-02. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- "Our Work". American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
- "Charter of Incorporation". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 2011-01-03. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- "Gale Encyclopedia of US History: American Academy of Arts and Sciences".
- "Visiting Scholars Program". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 2014-08-30. Retrieved 2014-08-22.
- "Prizes". American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
- "Fellowships". American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
- "Mr. Sebastiao Ribeiro Salgado". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 13 August 2014.[permanent dead link]
- "She is an Astronomer" Maria Mitchell.
- "Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tyler Jacks, Andre Previn, and Melinda F. Gates Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 2012-04-17.
- "Newly Elected Members, April 2014" (PDF).
- Bowditch, Nathaniel Ingersoll, Memoir of Nathaniel Bowditch, Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1840. Cf. p.138
- White, Daniel Appleton, "Eulogy on John Pickering, LL. D., President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences", eulogy delivered to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, October 28, 1846; published in Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, v.3
- Embattled head of American Academy of Arts and Sciences resigns after questions about resume – Metro. The Boston Globe (2013-07-26). Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
- Academy loses a tireless advocate of arts, sciences – Letters. The Boston Globe (2013-07-30). Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
- "Leader of Cambridge's prestigious Academy of Arts and Sciences inflated resume, falsely claiming doctorate - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com.
- "Arts & Sciences Advocacy Award - Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences". www.ccas.net. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
- Humanities Indicators.
- Chronicle of Higher Education, "First National Picture of Trends in the Humanities Is Unveiled," January 7, 2009.
- "A New Humanities Report Card," September 4, 2013.
- "The State of the Humanities: Funding 2014" (PDF). humanitiesindicators.org.
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