Academy of Sciences of Cuba

The Academy of Sciences of Cuba is an official institution of the Cuban State, independent and consultative in matters of science. The Academy, throughout its history has adopted different organizational forms according to the environment in which it has carried out its activities. The first Academy of Sciences was founded, after more than 35 years of negotiations with the Spanish Crown, on May 19, 1861, with the name of Royal Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Havana. This is the oldest still active national merit based academy of sciences established in the world outside Europe. After the inauguration of the Republic in 1902, that Academy retained its structure and organization but lost the title of "Royal". In 1962, the Cuban revolutionary process created the National Commission for the Academy of Sciences of Cuba and for the first time the name of the Academy showed its effective national scope. As part of the process of institutionalization of the revolutionary State, in 1976, through Law 1323 of the Organization of the Central Administration of the State, the Academy of Sciences of Cuba was established as an administrative body with the status of a National Institute. In 1980, by the transfer to the Academy of the functions of the State Committee for Science and Technology and with the new task of being the national organization responsible for all of the scientific and technological activity in the country, the Academy acquired the rank of a Ministry. In 1994, within the process of reorganization of the Central Administration of the Cuban State, the administrative structure of the Academy, together with the National Commission for Environment and Natural Resources, and the Executive Secretariat for Nuclear Affairs, became the Ministry for Science, Technology and Environment of Cuba.

In April 1996, by Law-Decree 163, the Academy, formed by scientists of outstanding merit, representing, on a personal basis, and with an honorary character, with the condition of Academicians, all of the national scientific community, was established in its present character with the main aims of fostering Cuban science, to disseminate national and universal scientific progress, to recognize the scientific research of excellence in the country, to raise ethical professional standards and social recognition of science, and to strengthen links between scientists and their organizations, both among themselves, with society at large, and with the rest of the world.

The Academy has a Secretariat that supports the Governing Bodies of the institution in the fulfillment of their tasks. The Academy established its Statutes and By-laws, and a system of Temporary and Permanent Commissions, as well as of Sponsoring Institutions, to advance the fulfillment of its aims as defined by law.

The main legal documents that establish the Academy and its functions and aims are Law-Decree 163 (04/03/1996) of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba by means of which the Academy of Sciences of Cuba is established in its present character; the Statutes (05/19/2001) which establish the structure, integration and operation of the Academy; the Academy By-laws (05/19/2001) which organizes the activity of the Academy bodies; and Decision 07-96 (09/28/1996) which establishes the requirements to be fulfilled by Sponsoring Institutions.

The Members are elected as such on a personal basis and with an honorary character, and such condition will be granted once proven, by the established procedure, that they satisfy the prerequisites of the position. The condition of Full Member, as well as the designations for elected offices of the Academy will have a period of duration of four years that is called term. The following types of Members are established:

  • Full Member (currently 162): Member of the Academy who acquires that condition by agreement of the Plenum of the Academy and fulfills all the prerequisites established by the Statutes. The nomination is carried out by scientific organizations, centers of higher education, scientific societies and other bodies and national organizations of renowned scientific and cultural prestige;
  • Academic of Merit (currently 43): Member of the Academy who, having been Full Member for more than one term, is given that condition by ballot of the Plenum of the Academy, at the proposal of the Governing Council, and in attention to exceptional merits. This condition is attained for life;
  • Academic of Honor (currently 11): Member of the Academy who, without fulfilling necessarily all of the prerequisites to be designated Full Member, has given exceptional services to science, or to the Academy, and is nominated by the President, motu proprio, or as proposed by the organs established in the Statutes. This condition is attained for life;
  • Corresponding Member (currently 20): Member of the Academy who acquires that condition by agreement of the Plenum of the Academy and fulfills all of the prerequisites to be a Full Member, except to be a resident in the national territory. This condition is attained for life.

All conditions of membership in the Academy are to be approved by secret ballot.

As a way to involve young scientists in academic life, the Academy established in the year 2000 the condition of Young Associates, who will be regularly invited to the academy's activities. The nomination and acceptance of Young Associates shall follow the formalities established by the Statutes. The nomination is carried out by scientific organizations, centers of higher education, scientific societies and other bodies and national organizations of renowned scientific and cultural prestige. The Young Associates acquire such a condition upon agreement of the plenum of the Academy of Sciences. They have the rights and duties established in the statutes. The number of Young Associates shall be less than 10% of the total of Members in each term. Presently there are 23 of them in our Academy. All have to be approved by secret ballot.

In order to increase the number of female members, in the case of approximately equal terms candidates, preference is given to the election of women. The 28 % of the total membership are women. In Cuba 48 % of researchers are women.

The Academy is formed by the following collective bodies: the Plenum, the Governing Council, and the Sections by branches of science. The Plenum is the organ of highest hierarchy and authority in the Academy, to which all others are subordinate. It is formed by the Members, gathered in Ordinary or Extraordinary Sessions, as established in the By-Laws, and it is chaired by the President of the Academy or, in his or her absence, by one of the Vice Presidents, who will be charged with his or her duties. The Plenum meets during two periods of ordinary sessions each year, but it can meet in extraordinary sessions, called by the acting President, as many times as is needed.

The Governing Council is formed by the Coordinators of the Sections by branches of science, the Secretary, and the Vice Presidents, and it is chaired by the President, or by one of the Vice Presidents who will be charged with his or her duties, as designated. In the period between two sessions of the Plenum, the Governing Council is the organ of higher hierarchy and authority of the Academy. It meets once a month.

The Sections by branches of science group Members of related occupational profiles. Each Section is chaired by a Coordinator, elected from its Members, who is part of the Governing Council. The Sections by branches of science are the following:

  • Agrarian and Fisheries Sciences;
  • Biomedical Sciences;
  • Natural and Exact Sciences;
  • Social Sciences and Humanities;
  • Technical Sciences.

The internal organization of Sections and the creation of temporary or permanent task groups or Commissions, as well as its way of functioning, are left to the discretion of each Section, as long as it will not interfere with the functioning of the rest of the organs of the Academy, and it will not infringe anything established in its fundamental documents or in the By-Laws. The Governing Council could determine the creation of interdisciplinary or task oriented Commissions or Task Groups, with a permanent or temporary character, formed by Members of different Sections, as well as by specialists that are not Members, with the aim of carrying out specific tasks. The temporary Commissions and Groups will be automatically dissolved once they have fulfilled their goal.

Besides, the Academy has an auxiliary Secretariat, formed by professional officers, the staff of which is approved by the Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, as proposed by the President of the Academy. The Secretariat is the permanent organ that supports the President and all of the different organs of the Academy, to guarantee the fulfillment of the powers and functions it has been granted. Its composition is established in the list of officers approved to that effect.

The traditional publication of the Academy was ANNALS of the Academy. It was published until the sixties of the last century. At present the Academy does not have regular serial publications.

The Academy of Sciences of Cuba is dependent of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, which by law guarantees all matters related to the economic, material and financial supply to the Academy. The institution has an annual budget of approximately 500 000 pesos.

Every year since 1990, the National Award of the Academy of Sciences of Cuba is granted to the best results of scientific and technological research. With these prizes, the Academy recognizes the results of research which stand out in the country, stimulating scientific creativity, the visibility of Cuban science as part of the national and universal heritage, as well as contributions to the domestic socioeconomic development. The Award of the Academy of Sciences of Cuba and the Academy of Sciences for the developing world (TWAS) for Young Cuban Scientists is awarded since 2002 to reward Cuban young researchers that have produced exceptional work. Two prizes are awarded every year alternately in the fields of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. The National Award of Critics to the best scientific and/or technical works published in Cuba is awarded since 1997. It was established by the Cuban Publishing Houses and the Academy of Sciences of Cuba in response to the ever increasing development in the publication of scientific and technical works. The National Award of Social Sciences was established by the Cuban Publishing Houses and the Academy of Sciences of Cuba and is granted annually since 1995 to Cuban professors and scholars in social sciences and humanities that have carried out important contributions to the history and culture of our country during a long and creative professional life.

The Cuban Academy of Sciences is responsible for two important centers: The “Carlos J. Finlay” National Museum of History of Science and Technology is the Cuban institution dedicated to discover, acquire, preserve, expose and study, the valuable patrimony of the Cuban scientific movement. Likewise, it promotes the social recognition to scientific communities, contributing to increase knowledge, respect and admiration among the new generations to traditions in Cuban and international science; the Cuban Observatory of Science and Technology is the Cuban institution with the mission of following tendencies and advances of science and technology internationally, identifying the aspects of interest for our country. It also analyzes and evaluates the perspectives of development of science and technology in Cuba and the relationship with the national economic, social and environmental priorities.

The Academy has as one of its main aims to promote and strengthen inter-academic links with international and equivalent organizations in other countries. The Academy is affiliated, with active participation to the main international organizations of scientists. For instance, the Academia de Ciencias de Cuba is a founding member of the International Council for Science (ICSU) since 1931, a founding member of the Global Network of Academies of Sciences (IAP) since 1993; a founding member of the Caribbean Scientific Union (CCC) since 2000; a founding member of the Inter American Network of the Academies of Sciences (IANAS) since 2004; a founding member of the Consortium of Science and Technology Institutions of the South (COSTIS) since 2006; a member of the INTERCIENCIA Association; and a member of the International Foundation for Science (IFS).

The Cuban Academy has developed standing links for bilateral collaboration and contacts with partner institutions abroad like the Royal Society of London (UK); the Royal Society of Edinburgh (UK); the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the Indian National Science Academy; the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; the Caribbean Academy of Sciences; the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, USA); the Social Science Research Council (SSRC, USA); and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS, USA)

The Academy is actively involved in several international programs of Academies, such as the IANAS/IAP Water Program; the IANAS/IAP Science Education Program; the IAP Program on Digital Knowledge Resources and Infrastructure; the IAP Biosecurity Initiative; and the IAP Hazards and Disasters Initiative.