The Academy of Sciences’ main purposes are: a) to promote and stimulate scientific research and to disseminate its achievements; b) to stimulate the enrichment of thought, literature, language and other forms of culture; c) to encourage the study of Portuguese history and its relationship with the history of other nations, and to investigate and publish the sources of documentation; d) to collaborate in education and teaching activities; e) to assist the Government in an advisory capacity with scientific and linguistic problems of national interest; f) to preserve and improve the Portuguese language in connection with the Brazilian Academy of Letters and with similar institutions of Portuguese-speaking countries g) and to participate in cultural exchanges with other countries.
The Academy was established according to Queen’s decree of December 24, 1779, and exists today under its provisions and those modified by Decree n. 390/87, of 31st December 1987, Decree n. 179-96 of September 24, 1996, and Decree n. 90/2005, of June 3, 2005.
The Academy members are elected on a merit base for scholarly or scientific achievements. The election process involves proposal, discussion of curriculum and balloting in the class meeting of full member convened exclusively for this purpose. The Academy has two classes: Sciences and Letters, and each has, among national members: 35 full members and 70 corresponding members distributed in seven sections. The Academy has a number of foreign members as well. The Class of Sciences is composed of the following seven sections: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Space and Earth Sciences, Biological Sciences; Medical Sciences, Engineering Sciences and other Applied Sciences. The Class of Letters of the Academy is made up of the following sections: Literature and Literary Studies, Philology and Linguistic, Philosophy, Psychology and Pedagogy, History and Geography, Law and Political Science, Economics and Finances and Sociology and other Social and Human Sciences. Each section has 5 full members and 10 correspondent ones. There has been a recent intention of electing young scientists as well as women members, since there are only sixteen women among 182 national members.
The main governing bodies of the Academy are: the Plenary, the Presidency, the Administrative Council and the Secretary-General. The Plenary is composed of all the academicians and it is the main decision-making body of the Academy. Academicians meet at the plenary at least once a year. The Presidency is represented by the President and the Vice-President, each belonging to a different class of the Academy and elected annually. The Administrative Council is composed of the President, the Vice-President, The Secretary-General, the Vice-secretary-General and the Treasurer and is responsible for the management and budget of the Academy. This council meets normally once a month but it may happen whenever the President decides to convene it. The Secretary-General implements the decisions of the Administrative Council and ensures the continuity of the services of the Academy including administration and communication with other entities.
Since the 18th century, the Academy has published a number of serial and regular journals and books, including annals and bulletins of its sections and classes. Although some projects can be sponsored by private funding, the budget is mainly granted by government. The Academy, pursuing its tradition, awards recognition for outstanding work in both Science and the Humanities, through a number of prizes. The Academy runs the Institute for Advanced Studies, the Institute of Lexicology and Lexicography of the Portuguese Language, the Library and the Museum of the Academy
The Academy of Sciences of Lisbon is a member of the main international scientific organizations, like the International Council for Science (ICSU), the Union Académique Internationale (UAI), the Interacademy Panel (IAP), the All European Academies (ALLEA), the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC). The Academy takes part in international activities by attending international meetings. Moreover, the Academy has established an exchange visit agreement with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Such an agreement was formerly established with the Royal Society of London. The Academy has joined in 2006 the European Polar Board, which is the European Science Foundation’s expert committee on Science Policy in the Polar Regions. On the other hand, the Academy regularly hosts international meetings as for example, the “ESF Humanities Spring” workshop 2007, in which Professor Wim Blockmans gave his talk entitled “Whither Humanities”.