History


 

The idea of founding an international association for exploring major concerns of humanity in a nongovernmental context grew out of many conversations that took place among leading scientists and intellectuals in the years following World War II. Prominent among this group were people such as Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer who had played a part in the development of the atomic bomb and were deeply concerned about how it and other scientific advances might be used – or misused.

This informal project took a major step forward in 1956, when a meeting – The First International Conference on Science and Human Welfare – was held in Washington, D. C. The organizers were two American scientists: Richard Montgomery Field of Princeton, who had worked for many years as chairman of an international committee on the social values of science; and John A. Fleming, former President of the International Council of Scientific Unions. At the end of the conference, participants agreed to take steps toward the formation of a World Academy, and elected an International Preparatory Committee for that purpose. Its members were: (from France) Pierre Chouard, George Laclavére and G. Le Lionnaise; (from the United Kingdom) Ritchie Calder, H. Munro Fox and Joseph Needham; and (from the United States) Robert Oppenheimer.

The Academy was formally founded (and its first officers elected) in 1960. They were: as President, Lord John Boyd Orr of Scotland; as Vice Presidents, Hermann Joseph Muller of the United States and Hugo Ostvald of Sweden; and, as Secretary General, Hugo Boyko of Israel. They published the following statement

Manifesto In the Name of Science and the Future of Mankind

The appeal of the International Conference on Science and Human Welfare has been realized – THE WORLD ACADEMY OF ART AND SCIENCE has been established.

This urgently needed forum has been created for distinguished scientists and scholars to discuss the vital problems of mankind, independent of political boundaries or limits – whether spiritual or physical; a forum where these problems will be discussed objectively, scientifically, globally and free from vested interested or regional attachments.

The World Academy of Art and Science will function as an informal “world university” at the highest scientific and ethical level, in which deep human understanding and the fullest sense of responsibility will meet.

The structure of the Academy and its goal are laid down in the first volume of its publications, Science and the Future of Mankind, now in press.

The basic idea which led to the founding of the Academy stems from the following considerations:

  • All existing international organizations which decide on vital problems of mankind are constructed on the principle of national or group representation.
  • This forum is international, or more truly trans-national.
  • From the dawn of mankind people have worked together to build the tower of knowledge, and no nation has failed to contribute to this marvelous building. The creative power of the human spirit is to be found in the first prehistoric digging stick for agriculture as in the motorized plough of our time. The first canoe is no less original in concept than the Archimedian principle; the first wheel no less than the first airplane – perhaps even more so.
  • The true object of all these achievements of the human spirit is to lighten the burden of life, to enrich it – and certainly not to make it more difficult or to destroy it. In the words of Einstein, who is one of the spiritual fathers of this transnational forum: “The creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind.”

This is the fundamental aim of the World Academy: to rediscover the language of mutual understanding. It will work in close collaboration with the institutions of the United Nations. It will look for the true enemies of peace, and try to fight them:

These enemies are hunger and sickness, waste and destruction; the archenemies intolerance and ignorance, resignation and fear.

In international meetings and conferences, represented by group or nation, the intrinsic merits of the questions discussed have too often to be subordinated to considerations of national prestige or group interests. The World Academy has no pre-established tasks to fulfill and no vested interests to serve. It is free to attack problems in the broad interests of mankind, and to seek solutions leading to hope, happiness and peace.

With the help of science and the support of all cultural and constructive forces of mankind, the World Academy will be able to dedicate itself to its objective – the aim of serving as an impartial and nonpolitical adviser, complementing other organizations, in this difficult transition period, and contributing in leading mankind to an era of true progress, true human welfare, and true happiness.

Supported by the confidence and trust of a great number of spiritual leaders of mankind, we herewith declare the World Academy of Art and Science founded.

For the Charter Members

December 24, 1960

Charter Members of the World Academy of Art and Science

This list contained the names of five Nobel Laureates (Lord Boyd Orr, Prof. Muller, Lord Russell, and Prof. Urey) as well as those of several men who had played leading roles in shaping the major postwar international organizations: Prof. Needham had been a co-founder of UNESCO, Lord Boyd Orr the first Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Dr. Chisholm the first Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Also mentioned were the names of four “Posthumous Charter Members” – Albert Einstein, John A. Fleming, Sir Ian Clunies Ross and Homer Le Roy Schantz – who had died before they could sign the founding manifesto.

Past Presidents

  • Lord John Boyd Orr
  • Hugo Boyko
  • Stuart Mudd
  • Detlev Bronk
  • Harold Lasswell
  • Walter Isard
  • Ronald St. John Macdonald
  • Carl-Göran Hedén
  • Harlan Cleveland
  • Walter Truett Anderson
  • Ivo Šlaus

Other prominent past Fellows of the Academy

  • Arthur C. Clarke, author of A Space Odyssey
  • Norman Cousins, Editor-in-Chief, Saturday Evening Post
  • Abba Eban, Israeli Foreign Minister and Vice President of UN General Assembly
  • Sir John C. Eccles, Nobel Laureate in Medicine
  • Buckminster Fuller, Systems Theorist, Architect, Futurist
  • André Michel Lwoff, Nobel Laureate in Medicine
  • Abraham Maslow, Psychologist
  • Yehudi Menuhin, Violinist 
  • Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist
  • Henry Moore, Sculptor
  • Alva Myrdal, Nobel Laureate Economist
  • Gunnar Myrdal, Nobel Laureate Economist
  • Philip Noel-Baker, Nobel Peace Laureate
  • Linus Pauling, Nobel laureate in Chemistry and in Peace
  • Saravepalli Radhakrishnan, President  of India, Elected as Honorary Fellow
  • Jonas Salk, Developer of the Polio Vaccine
  • Vikram Sarabhai, Chairman of Indian Atomic Energy Commission
  • Frederisk Seitz, President of National Academy of Science
  • Pitirim Sorokin, Sociologist
  • Arne Tiselius, Nobel Laureate Biochemist
  • Conrad H. Waddington, Geneticist

The Need of a World Academy of Art and Science

by Hugo Boyko

Excerpt from Science and the future of mankind, Dr. W. Junk Publishers, Netherlands, 1961.

In October 1956 an International Conference on Science and Human Welfare was convened at Washington, D.C Two main tasks filled its program:

1) To organize a global working team in order to create an inventory of all natural resources known already to us or to be expected with great probability, and
2) The creation of a World Academy of Art and Science.

There is nothing exceptional nowadays in an international conference of Scientists. In the course of the last 50 years many such conferences and congresses have been convened in a growing succession in the framework of the various branches of science.

With this task however this Conference leaped far ahead, going beyond the frame of a regular scientific conference, in its former sense. This conference is the logical outcome of a development to which human way of thinking and physical achievements have led in the course of a few thousand years, bursting wide open our limits as accepted up to now.

However, each of us feels also that something about the aims and the nature of this conference is yet vague, but this is easily comprehensible if we realize that the main subject of the Conference was the future of man.

What was intended to achieve there was merely to seek a way for, as smooth as possible, a further development of all peoples and in all countries, the way to a future in which all mankind will be able to enjoy the immense achievements of the human brain; and to seek for a forum in which this way may be discussed on an unpolitical, objective, scientific and highly ethical basis. The time of our own generation and the time of the two or three following ones form the threshold of a period when history has ceased to be the history of single peoples, states or groups. From now on the history of every single state, even the smallest, is linked firmly with that of all others. Mankind has become a whole and undividable unit, struggling as yet against such a realization. If we desire it or not we have all become neighbours and even the remotest of them, our geographical antipodes, have moved into calling distance; quite apart from the fact that through the speed of our planes today, and more so of those of tomorrow, we are able to grasp one another’s hand virtually in a few hours time.
 
We are starting to trespass the accepted borders of earth, space, matter and even of energy, and - if we are not mistaken - even the threshold of Life and Death. In quick succession ever new vistas keep opening up the unknown territories; already we see in a virus a being which does not permit any more a distinct limit; it can at one moment appear as a lifeless crystal, in the next as a living being of extra-ordinary vitality.

If already these decisive dividing lines of nature seem to disappear before our very eyes and in our comprehension, how small and insignificant and negligible seem the dimensions of the political frontiers. Frontiers which are needed still for the sake of our smaller or larger groupings either for defence or for a better economic development.

The principles however of these limitations and borders seem to be proved nonsensical by the development of modern technique. This again is an example of how the tempestuous technical development tends to throw mankind off its psychological equilibrium and possibly even to destroy it physically.

Only farseeing statemanship in cooperation with the leading scientists in all branches of science will be able to regain the equilibrium.

It will be one of the main tasks to bring such a cooperation into being. This task will remain a necessity until a new form of organizational structure of mankind may develop, a structure adequate not only to mankind's weakness but also to its greatness.

It will not be an easy task to find a way by which such an ideal forum can be erected, which is meant to include the most farseeing brains of science, philosophy and statesmanship and probably for the benefit of mankind, also the most prominent poets and artists.

It is of secondary importance whether we should call such a forum an International Academy of Art and Science or any other adequate name. But it is of imminent importance to recognize the urgency of its creation and, after its creation, to see to it that such a body be trusted in its objectivity with worldwide confidence. If we succeed in promoting this confidence then such a body may act as an advisory influence with the various developments of peoples and governments, and this may well be equivalent to a new era in history.

But before we go into the various approaches to the aim, that is before we discuss the various organizational set-ups which such a forum should have, we must discuss once more the problems which indicate the necessity of such an organization. We want to do this because we want to be certain of our own judgment in order to be able to implant our own convictions and certainty on others.

Quite some part of what I shall have to mention here has been common knowledge amongst broad minded people for some time already. Nevertheless it seems necessary to mention these points too as they form the basis of our deductions.

It has taken thousands of years for man to reach the existing stage of his development. The field of our knowledge is being steadily enlarged and we cannot yet guess where the limitations of our potential comprehension may be lying. We know, however, that we are steadily widening the borders, given us by nature, widening them with increasing rapidity by intensifying the capacity of our sensitive organs or by even producing additional ones. The microscope, the electroscope and radar with all their potentialities are suitable examples of this kind. As a parallel we have the enhancing of our physical qualities, starting with the lifting of weights of many tons with the pressure of one single finger on an electric button, up to flying through space.

The achievements of crossing such natural borders in the course of our one own generation has no parallel since man tamed and produced fire for the first time.

The number of men, however, who are leading mankind on such new ways, or who have original creative minds in any one field is very small indeed. As yet nobody has written the whole story of the eminent historical role played by the scientists, the philosophers, the inventors, and the artists. The importance of this small group of people for the higher values of living is as yet not recognized as it should be. The technician alone is valued more than all the other creators for his achievements, because his achievements are the easiest understood and can be employed in everyday life.

On the whole there are very few people who realize that only the creative mental powers of this small group have been responsible for all the upward trends in the development of men and it is they who are lifting the entity on to higher levels in the art of living. Satisfaction can naturally also be reached by frugality of needs. But let us not forget that uncounted generations of research were essential even for the manufacturing of DIOGENES' famous empty barrel. He himself did neither seek the right wood for it nor did he bend it with the help of heat, nor did he smelt the metal and invent the bands around the sections of wood; he only settled himself in the ready barrel.

Every scientific and technical progress is but the result of a long chain of researches prepared and done by countless generations of Scientists. How quickly is a paper taken in hand to write some notes on it. Who stops to think of the many scientists - botanists, physicists, engineers, chemists - who made the manufacture of this little strip of paper possible.

Would there still be a living specimen of man if not for the few who were ever ahead of their times; scientists of prehistoric periods who invented the methods to make fire, to use stone tools, to sow grains for survival?

We have lived to see enormous social upheavals and developments in the course of the last few generations.

Now is the time ripe that the main call should be: Scientists of all countries, unite! Create a forum which can be looked upon by mankind with trust, and which is able and willing to give advice, in all the most vital questions with objectivity and from the highest ethical level.

It is evident that we ourselves shall here have to recognize the necessity of such a unification and of such an extra-national and extra-political forum, and to see its far-reaching consequences, before we can try to convince others of its necessity.

Nevertheless we can see already that our small group, which has seen, recognized and advocated this need for the last 10, 15, 20 years, is rapidly growing, so that it represents nowadays already a general urge, even if not generally recognized as such. The seed of this thought started during the First World War, but it needed a second world war to make it grow to its strength and size of today.

Immediately after the last world war this trend of thought produced the formation of the U.N. and its Economic and Social Council, of U.N.E.S.C.O., F.A.O., W.M.O., W.H.O., and others. It has been expressed inside and outside the International Unions of Science frequently and with lucidity. Quite a number of prominent brains have been working in the same direction, independent of one another.

A host of various great names present themselves before our inner eye in this respect. The greatest scientist of our times, EINSTEIN, also belonged to the representatives of this trend of thought.

Soon these thoughts were expressed similarly by statesmen of high standing in open public discussions; still up to now we are alone each of us, even if each one represents the focal center and hope of many thousands.

There exists a number of physical laws which are applicable equally in the era of mental and spiritual trends. I am deeply convinced that we may achieve by the combined effort of strong single forces, which are all of them pulling in the same direction, a resultant multiplied force of great effect and most valuable consequence. We are only starting today to realize this for ourselves but already we are spreading and influencing a large and wide community. The time is near, when the leading statesmen - even perhaps of our own generation - will willingly get in closest contact with the representatives of this strongest creative element of mankind, as soon as these represent an organized body for this purpose. And both together they will then try to find the right ways of development for mankind and the true progress on a global scale and on scientific premises.

The first reason for building such an organization as we have in mind lies in the recognition that such a forum would constitute a very positive step forward, based on thoroughly peaceful methods. This aspect is of the utmost importance and significance for all groups of mankind and for all countries: the highly developed ones as well as the under-developed.

But there are quite a number of other reasons beyond this one: As by our own efforts our planet has shrunk to such small dimensions we have to draw several consequences therefrom. First of all, there must be from now on in history a somehow centralized handling of the mutual affairs of mankind as an inevitable necessity.

This is recognized and accepted already and the U.N. and her Special Agencies are the best proof of this fact. There are, however, as we know, psychological differences between races and peoples, language difficulties and economic group interests and various other obstacles still in the way of this natural development. These differences and difficulties have to be thoroughly investigated and this brings us again to the result, that it seems one of the most important things to make scientific research of these differences and obstacles.

A thorough research on the various and very different human environments, climate, vegetation, food, etc. is a necessity, how they influence the behaviour and even the way of thinking of the various populations.

Some years ago (August 1956) the first Bio-climatological Congress was convened in Paris at U.N.E.S.CO.-House. There a new biological approach even to the geo-physical concept of climate has been accepted, and an International Committee has been set up to elaborate biological climate
standards among living things, mostly plants, and this new branch of science, called ecological climatography seems to become also of decisive value for evaluating the need of man, so different in different climates.

In its widest sense all this may be named human ecology.

We should not forget that the peace - or war - problem is fundamentally a scientific problem and in the first line a biological problem. So, for instance, if we know the psychological difference between the big groups of mankind and also their causes, a big step forward would have been made.

If we know how to enlarge the food-potential of our earth and also the potential of all the other natural resources, another big step has been made.

But in this last example we see how complicated these problems are. The higher the standard of living, the more differentiated will be the wants of the population, and this is not only a question of production but rather more of distribution of these goods. Here again the conflicting interests of single countries manifest themselves and can only be overcome by cooperation and common planning.

However, common planning does not mean total planning because total planning is inconceivable as long as there is no complete knowledge, and such a thing does not and will never exist.

Only the uneducated individual or the semi-educated one can see the solution in total planning, or, on the other hand somebody who wants to achieve total power. One thing is sure: the final result will be coercion and terror.

It is of course quite easy to convince a public assembly of the fact that such a total planning would be the desired aim of mankind. But to try to carry this out, and necessarily by sheer force and terror, can only bring utter disaster. There against a partial planning as based on our acquired knowledge is conceivable and to be advocated.

Much is already being done in this direction. But regrettably many of these plans are still closely linked with political motives and only partly based on objective scientific considerations. Here too the lack of such a non-political extra-national, purely scientific institution, if only as an advisory council, is being felt.

This present state of affairs may be traced back to the leadership principle, evolved almost 3000 years ago and at that time truly a great achievement. This was expressed in a bulletin of the American Institute of Geonomy and Natural Resources as follows: "Our generation having made the first step into the Atomic Age, has also to make a further step in the development of leadership principles; from the pre-historic muscle-magician stage to the stage of orators and politicians, first developed in ancient Greece, now to the leadership of the best and broadest-minded brains among statesmen and scientists, and this step has to be made now, before it is too late."

What we need is an institution of the highest scientific authority held in the highest esteem by all peoples as a strictly objective advisory body for countries and peoples, and gradually growing into an influential position in all questions decisive for the future of mankind.

Only in such a forum can new principles of leadership be studied without being suspected of being in the service of any power-politics. Only in such a forum can such advice be found which may give the highest possible source of life-values for a specific generation or for certain specified regions.

I am quite optimistic in regard to the question whether we may conceivably satisfy the demands of an increasing world population. From my own ecological knowledge I venture to prophecy that we shall be able to overcome the discrepancy between potential food production and size of population. The population-potential of the globe depends less on the increased square-miles of soil available than on the creative power of our brains.

The lack of a right balance in most countries at present is due primarily to the two world wars and secondly to the fact that far-reaching measures have been taken without necessary scientific foundations.

The great efforts of U.N.E.S.C.O. and of F.A.O., for instance in India must necessarily take far longer to produce effects according to their nature in respect to increased production of food, than will many of the quicker acting measures of modern hygiene.

Japanese cultivation-methods for rice as introduced by F.A.O., have raised rice production in many Indian areas fourfold already; but it still will take years before the discrepancy between the number of the population and available quantities of foodstuffs will be eradicated.

It is the task of scientists to uncover such causes and to seek solutions of such vast problems, untouched by any suspicion of power politics.

The tasks of those, however, who are meant to lead humanity into a brighter future, are far more extensive and far-reaching. They will have to foster all those matters which are apt to unite all human beings, be it a common language to name one example of importance - a language for scientists, or be it by the means of expression which are at our disposal to an extent never before attained and much too little exploited - the film, the radio, poetry, and creative art, and last but not least the elite of the press.

As far as a common language in science is concerned, it is quite obvious and understandable that each group of the same language wants to see its own language accepted. But he who deals with this question objectively and outside of all national and political points of view must admit that every additional language which is added to the admitted language for scientific use, is liable to decrease the value of all scientific publications, and in consequence thereof, also the value of science itself.

Let us take up another example from the vast schedule of tasks which have to be dealt with by such an extra-national forum. The establishment of new branches of science is often hampered by many obstacles. Every official bureau is conservative according to its very nature. This is the case even in the most developed and advanced countries. The history of science and of technique is full of researches, inventions, discoveries, which have only been brought to light by some chance, and very often long after the death of the person responsible for the discovery or piece of research. There are many cases when a national forum would not be the place to offer constructive criticism or active help out of subjective causes. Very often also, the path to an international meeting is closed to a person because the expense of travelling does not allow more than a few to take part in such assemblies. Only a fighter might be able to overcome these handicaps, but only then at the cost of years or decades, or overwhelming material sacrifices. Unfortunately we find that among many serious scientists the fighting spirit is not strongly developed.

It is therefore one of the tasks of such an extra-national Academy of Art and Science to support and foster morally such new branches of research, and to recommend their material support if they promise valuable results in a desired direction.

We should also most emphatically support the border-sciences and all work in synthesis in science, as both are of great importance today and are frequently badly treated by official authorities.

However, it will not be only a matter of supporting science as such but also its representatives - the scientists - by emphasizing the value of them and of science in general within the framework of the general organizational structure of mankind; a fact which is not yet recognized by the great majority. And the same applies to Art.

The intellectual resources of many countries are often wasted and even sometimes suppressed by too low salaries and standards of living. In many countries one is apt to forget that though a tractorist is able to raise production in comparison to the primitive ploughman, this does not therefore mean a principal difference of achievement. The really significant achievement lies in the creative thought, in the invention of the physical principles; it lies with the geologist, the metallurgist who produces the chemical premises, with the ecologist who carries out research on the need of plants and finally with the engineer who could build the tractor with the basic knowledge at hand.

As a rule one is apt to see but the last member of the chain and the other members of it remain largely anonymous.

Another important point is, that we must also find the right balance of the sciences against one another and their integration in our educational system, a problem of the utmost significance.

The biological branches of science, for instance, rate far behind those which deal with the easier accessible physical, chemical and technical problems, and this both in moral as in material remuneration.

Such a pooling center of science as a world advisory body must embrace the brightest and freest minds in all branches of science, but will have to be subdivided into different teams and working groups.

In nearly all of them the biological point of view will have to be dealt with to a much higher degree than was the case up to now.

It is one of the most crucial mistakes in the history of mankind that this has not been done with the necessary intensity up to now. The history of science itself gives us the cause of this mistake.

Since prehistoric times - many thousands of years ago - mathematics, physics, and a little later also chemistry, have been developed. Gradually we are unveiling the secrets of matter and energy. We conquer the depths of the oceans, the air, and are even beginning to conquer space outside our own planet.

But just now, with the brightest outlook before us which mankind ever had, we are faced with the possibility of destroying ourselves. Why? Because Biology, the knowledge of life in general: plants, animals, and men because of its more complicated nature, has been the stepchild of science until the last hundred years, except for the very superficial medical knowledge we had before. Until the last few decades biology was in fact confined to a descriptive science only.

Physiology is not older than about 100 years and ecology not older than 50 years. We are only now beginning to see the wonders of life a bit more clearly.

In physics we are overwhelmed, and rightly so, by the greatness of the discoveries of Atoms, their structure and movements.

But yet how simple is the movement of an atom, or of a sun system, compared with the smallest movement of our little finger. How many millions of different atoms and molecules have to be coordinated for it! What a complex of physical and chemical processes has to be completed in this short second from the time the idea creates the will in the brain cells, leads to the nerve cells and on to the muscle cells, and then stops it.

Most of the basic problems of mankind are of a biological nature: overproduction and underproduction of food-stuffs and organic raw materials, overpopulation and underpopulation, economic prosperity and depression, mass-apathy and mass-emotion, and finally war and peace are fundamentally biological problems. As soon as this will be understood and as soon as the leading statesmen will be willing to contemplate it on this scientific level, in cooperation with such an objective scientific Institution representing all branches of science, we shall have found the way to the highest art of living.

For the discussion of such and similar objects and for adequate recommendation we are in need of such an extranational and objective forum.

Now, as the first nucleus of the "World Academy of Art and Science" has started already with its activities, the next task will be to achieve the unshakable confidence in its scientific and ethical authority and objectivity. This may require several years and, apart of a sound and controlled financial basis, a most careful selection and way of election of members. In this task hundreds of top scientists and other personalities esteemed by the world for their high intellectual and ethical standard, further the Special Agencies of U.N.O., the International Scientific Unions and Societies, and the national Academies will be of great assistance.

The Needs will dictate the priority of the main problems. In these first years they will have to be discussed and decided upon; the working groups, as the principal Means to carry out the scientific work, will have to be organized; the financial basis will have to be secured, and the organizational structure to be brought into that balance ordained by its Goal.

May I repeat: The great and new task of this Institution lies in that it is supposed to be an extra-national, a transnational, and truly objective forum for the vitally important problems of mankind. The problems today will be less in the foreground of discussion than the problems of tomorrow? and in our opinion this future is outlined already in distinguishable contours.

We do not know yet when the political unification of mankind will become a fact, but we know with certainty that this unification is imminent in the course of the next few generations.

We do not know which way will bring this about, a peaceful or a forceful one. Independent of the possibility of a third or fourth World War it must be the task of the World Academy to lead the way to a worldwide and peaceful co-operation.

In these last few decades science has created new and unforeseen ways for the development of mankind. However, we are as yet overshadowed by the clouds of foregone millennia and our best inventions are used more for the destruction than for obstruction.

It is up to us scientists to lead on the path that will make these new inventions enrich our life and that of coming generations, not destroy it.

Scientists of all parts of the world!

Let us create the scientific basis which is necessary to enable us to live and work together peacefully! Let us use all our imagination to make an art of living.

Non-Scientists and Scientists alike! Let us all help to make this forum a true "Agency for Human Welfare" irradiating hope and belief, and let us work together for a brighter future, a future truly adequate to "Homo sapiens."