Looking Ahead to Economics in 2020

Young economists and laureate Oliver Hart during the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences.

Nobel Laureate Oliver Hart and young economists during the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences. Photo/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

The last four triennial Lindau Meetings on Economic Sciences have managed to come at significant moments for the global economy and the debate over how it should be run.

In 2008, there were emerging signs that the ‘Great Moderation’ of the previous decade had come to an end. But most people expected that the turbulence would be confined to the subprime mortgages of the United States.

 

Joseph Stiglitz in 2011 during the 4th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Joseph Stiglitz in 2011 during the 4th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Three years later and the economics profession was in the dock for failing to give any warning of what had turned out to be a global financial crisis and subsequently, a ‘Great Recession’ that cast millions into unemployment and left the major western economic powers reeling. Lindau 2011 was a focus of media attention as laureates such as Joseph Stiglitz lambasted his colleagues.

At this year’s meetings, the atmosphere was calmer with few signs of an imminent external crisis. Yet given the tenth anniversary of the onset of the global financial crisis, much of the media attention was on the defence of the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing programme by its president Mario Draghi, who gave the opening keynote speech.

Participating journalists were also intrigued by comments by German Federal Minister Peter Altmaier on Brexit and by laureate Chris Pissarides demanding that Germany reduce her current account surplus to bring a better balance to the eurozone and relief to countries such as Greece.

 

Christopher Pissarides during his lecture at the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences, Picture/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Christopher Pissarides during his lecture at the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences, Picture/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

But at the same time, the Nobel Laureates and young economists at the Lindau Meeting were engaged in discussing a huge amount of new economic research that is going on at universities around the world that may well lead to new theories on how to make people wealthier, healthier and happier.

A total of 85 young economists made presentations on their research to a panel of laureates. These included: an experiment to achieving a collective agreement on which transactions using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin are valid and which are invalid by Demelza Hays of the University of Lichtenstein; the potential for education investment in China to combat child labour by Tang Can of Renmin University; and the work by Cindy Lopez-Bento of Maastricht University on knowledge spillovers from subsidised R&D – to name just three.

Assuming that the world economy continues on its path of consistent – albeit weak – growth, then the next Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences in 2020 may be the first for 12 years where the focus will be far more on looking forwards than backwards.

How can economics tackle the growing problem of inequality? What can be done to boost levels of productivity that are essential for growth in per capita income and wealth? What does economics have to say about high levels of poverty and ill health in developing countries? All these issues were discussed at Lindau with two science breakfasts on productivity and inequality.

But hopefully in three years time these issues will be the ones grabbing the media limelight.

#LiNoEcon Daily Recap – Saturday, 26 August

The 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences ended with the boat trip to Mainau Island. It was a day full of science, discussions, joy, genuine delight and even some tears. It is hard for us to say goodbye now but we will surely stay in touch. Enjoy the highlights of the last day of #LiNoEcon.

 

Video of the day:

 

Last glimpse of #LiNoEcon – we hope you enjoyed your time with us.

 

 

Picture of the day:

 

#LiNoEcon participants boarding the “Sonnenkönigin” on their way to Mainau Island.

6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences 23.08.2017 - 26.08.2017, Lindau, Germany, Picture/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

For even more pictures from the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, past and present, take a look at our Flickr account.

 

Blog post of the day:

 

Panel Slider

At #LiNoEcon, three Nobel Laureates explored economists’ understanding of how policies on taxes, public spending and interest rates work together in a time of crisis.

Do take a look at more of our inspring blog posts.

 

Tweets of the day:

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least, follow us on Twitter @lindaunobel and Instagram @lindaunobel and keep an eye out for #LiNoEcon.

This is the last daily recap of the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences. The idea behind it was to bring to you the day’s highlights in a blink of an eye. We hope you enjoyed the meeting and wish you all safe travels home.

#LiNoEcon Daily Recap – Friday, 25 August

Friday was the last day in Lindau but not the last day of the meeting. Saturday is going to take the #LiNoEcon participants to Mainau Island, so while you are enjoying your last day on the picturesque island, let’s take a look at what happened yesterday. Here are our highlights from Friday:

 

Video of the day:

 

At #LiNoEcon, Laureate Jean Tirole comments on corporate social responsibility: “We need citizens and corporations to step in for the government and the market and try to do the common good.”

 

 

Picture of the day:

 

Laureate Myron Scholes conversing with young economists during a coffee break.

Myron Scholes in talk with young economists 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences 23.08.2017 - 26.08.2017, Lindau, Germany, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

For even more pictures from the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, past and present, take a look at our Flickr account.

 

Blog post of the day:

 

Sims

 

The myth of the independent central bank: economics writer Frances Coppola on Christopher Sims #LiNoEcon lecture.

Do take a look at more of our inspring blog posts.

 

Tweets of the day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least, follow us on Twitter @lindaunobel and Instagram @lindaunobel and keep an eye out for #LiNoEcon.

We will keep you updated on the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences with our daily recaps. The idea behind it is to bring to you the day’s highlights in a blink of an eye. The daily recaps will feature blog posts, photos and videos from the mediatheque.

#LiNoEcon Daily Recap – Thursday, 24 August

Thursday was packed with lectures, seminars and the first panel discussion of #LiNoEcon. In our mediatheque, you may find many great pictures, videos of exceptional lectures and thought-provoking blog contributions. There is so much more worth checking out than what we present to you in our daily recap, so do have a look. Enjoy the following highlights of Thursday!

 

Video of the day:

 

For #LiNoEcon young economist Eric Schaanning, the big policy challenges facing economists today include inequality, pension design, artificial intelligence and climate change. 

 

 

Picture of the day:

 

Laureate Daniel L. McFadden with “his” knowledge pylon that is part of the Lindau Science Trail.

Daniel McFadden standing next to

For even more pictures from the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, past and present, take a look at our Flickr account.

 

Blog post of the day:

 

Blog of the day

‘Homo Economicus’ Reconsidered: Ben Chu on how Nobel economists rebel against simplistic conceptions of rationality at #LiNoEcon

Do take a look at more of our inspring blog posts.

 

Tweets of the day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least, follow us on Twitter @lindaunobel and Instagram @lindaunobel and keep an eye out for #LiNoEcon.

We will keep you updated on the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences with our daily recaps. The idea behind it is to bring to you the day’s highlights in a blink of an eye. The daily recaps will feature blog posts, photos and videos from the mediatheque.

The Road to a Nobel Prize

How does an economist choose their area of research? What are the influences on how they pursue their goals? What do they see as the next steps in their chosen fields? The answers to these questions will be central to the way that young economists – and indeed academics from any discipline – will take decisions in their own careers.

Three Nobel Laureates who won their prizes for separate work on contracts, incentives and organisations took part in a panel at the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences. They discussed the personal academic journeys that led them to make the intellectual findings for which they were recognised – and the people and research that had influenced them.

 

Panel Discussion: Contracts, Incentives and Organisations duirng the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Panel Discussion: Contracts, Incentives and Organisations at the Lindau Meeting. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Oliver Hart, who won the 2016 prize for his work on contract theory, was motivated to look at incomplete contracts after a conversation with Sanford Grossman in which they asked why one firm would ever buy another firm rather than just trading with it. As trained microeconomic theorists, they decided that they could add to the informal existing literature. After grappling with issues such as the role of authority and the idea of requirements contracts, they realised they were thinking about it in the wrong way.

‘The penny dropped that we were thinking in complete contract terms when we realised it would be better to think about it in incomplete contracting terms,’ Hart said. ‘In complicated relationships that take place over many years, it is very hard for the parties to foresee the future and write the idealised state contingent contract.’ Hart and Grossman went on to write the highly influential paper Incomplete Contracts and the Theory of the Firm.

Bengt Holmstöm, who shared the prize with Hart in 2016, took a less direct path towards economics, gaining an undergraduate degree in mathematics at the University of Helsinki and a masters in operations research and doctorate at Stanford. While working later for a large conglomerate in Finland, he was asked to implement a corporate planning model.

‘It didn’t take before I realised that this did not look like the right thing to do’, he said. ‘That ignited my interest in incentives and provided an endless source as a sounding board – I don’t get enthusiastic about anything that does not match with the reality. If the apple falls up rather than down, then I’m not interested in that model.’

Jean Tirole, who won the prize in 2014 for his work on market power and regulation, said that he believed it was impossible to develop thoughts in a vacuum. Although he admitted he found it hard to codify his own research, he focused on three routes.

The first was intensive research on gaps that he had identified in the current theory. He mentioned his close reading of papers produced in the 1980s on principal-agent theory by Holmstrӧm – who was sat next to him on the panel. ‘It was a full tree but there were holes and we had to fill in the branches that were missing.’

The second route was to be motivated by the research of other academics, which included the work of Hart and another fellow laureate, Eric Maskin, who was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when Tirole was there as a doctoral student. Tirole went on to write a paper, Unforeseen Contingencies and. Incomplete Contracts, with Maskin who had earlier supervised his PhD.

His final route was engagement with practitioners who worked on issues relating to contracts on a daily basis and who asked Tirole questions as an expert that he found he could not answer, motivating him to do further research. ‘My research does not come in a vacuum but it comes from interactions, from being in the right place at the right time,’ he said. ‘We have to listen to people if we are going to learn about our own ignorance.’

The young economists in the packed theatre hall put a range of questions to the laureates including: whether university tenure was an optimal contract; how their subject area had evolved and future areas for research; and bank compensation in the wake of the global financial crisis. Two questioners asked the laureates about who had influenced them and what were the inconvenient questions that young scholars needed to ask.

Hart cited a number of economists including Kenneth Arrow and Gerard Debreu, laureates of an earlier generation who gave their names to the theory of general economic equilibrium, as well as another laureate, Ronald Coase.

Holmström urged young economists to focus on finding answers to small questions that can then be expanded. ‘I have tried to answer some big questions but they have never gone anywhere,’ he joked.

Tirole struck an inspirational final note saying that the Nobel Prize had turned him into a somewhat reluctant public intellectual in his home country of France. ‘You have to help design institutions that are going to be resilient in case a bad president comes to power. Mechanism design is very important,’ he said.

‘You basically get the economic policies that you deserve and our role as economists is to try to explain in simple terms what economics is about. We will get good policies if public opinion is well informed about economics – with all its uncertainties.’

 

 

#LiNoEcon Daily Recap – Wednesday, 23 August

On Wednesday, #LiNoEcon was inaugurated with a keynote by ECB President Mario Draghi, followed by the first full day of the meeting programme with lectures and seminars. In the evening, young economists and laureates mingled at the Get-Together in Friedrichshafen, where Federal Minister Peter Altmaier welcomed the participants on behalf of the German government, stressing that the young economists were the ‘hope of the universe’.

 

Video of the day:

The Keynote by ECB President Mario Draghi during the opening ceremony

 

Picture of the day:

ECB President Mario Draghi talking to young economists after the opening ceremony

6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences

For even more pictures from the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, past and present, take a look at our Flickr account.

 

Blog of the day:

 

Euro area

On the Future of the Euro Area: #LiNoEcon young economist Benjamin Schäfer suggests ways to overcome the weaknesses in Europe’s monetary union.

Do take a look at more of our inspring blog posts.

 

Tweets of the day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least, follow us on Twitter @lindaunobel and Instagram @lindaunobel and keep an eye out for #LiNoEcon.

We will keep you updated on the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences with our daily recaps. The idea behind it is to bring to you the day’s highlights in a blink of an eye. The daily recaps will feature blog posts, photos and videos from the mediatheque.

#LiNoEcon Daily Recap – Tuesday, 22 August

On Tuesday, #LiNoEcon kicked off with first meet and greets, registrations, guided tours through the Lindau Science Trail and the Paul Klee exhibition and various dinners for laureates, young economists and guests. Even though the grand opening of the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences takes place on Wednesday, we already have some highlights:

 

Video of the day:

Enjoy the first glimpse of #LiNoEcon! Many more to follow.

 

Picture of the day:

Tuesday afternoon we showed the young economists our new Science Trail. More than 40 participants gathered at the pylon outside of the city theatre and followed the guided tour over sunny Lindau island.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For even more pictures from the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, past and present, take a look at our Flickr account.

 

Blog of the day:

A refugee success story from rural Australia: #LiNoEcon young economist David Smerdon on the remarkable transformation of the small town of Nhill

Refugees Slider

Do take a look at more of our inspring blog posts.

 

Tweets of the day:

 

 

 

 

Last but not least, follow us on Twitter @lindaunobel and Instagram @lindaunobel and keep an eye out for #LiNoEcon.

We will keep you updated on the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences with our daily recaps. The idea behind it is to bring to you the day’s highlights in a blink of an eye. The daily recaps will feature blog posts, photos and videos from the mediatheque.

An Effort to Make an International Conference More Sustainable

Maybe it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about meetings and conferences, but these events often leave colossal carbon footprints. Think about the CO2 emissions of hundreds (for really big conferences even thousands) of people that travel by car or plane, think about a sea of mostly plastic trash, and think about countless pages of printed out conference materials. Worrisome, right? And these are only some of the more obvious ecological aspects.

 

View on Lindau Island. Credit: Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

View on Lindau Island. Credit: Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

In 2015, on the occasion of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, 36 Nobel Laureates signed the Mainau Declaration on Climate Change. Subsequently, 40 more Nobel Laureates added their names to the list of signatories. On 7 December 2015, the declaration was handed over by Nobel Laureates Serge Haroche and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji to the then President of France, Francois Hollande, as part of the successful COP21 climate summit in Paris. Within this declaration, the laureates warn of the danger of climate change and urge all countries to cooperate and find a way to limit future global emissions. Therefore we, as an organisation, are obliged to contribute to this purpose, too.

“In many lectures and discussions, Nobel Laureates like Christian de Duve, Steven Chu, Mario Molina, Brian Schmidt and others emphasised the importance of acting sustainably and responsibly. We therefore see this as an obligation for our work in organising the meetings,” says Wolfgang Huang, Managing Director of the Executive Secretariat of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. That’s why several years ago the idea of “green conferencing” became a new focus of attention during the planning of the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

Katja Merx, project manager of Lindau’s conference management, is responsible for incorporating sustainability aspects into the planning of the meetings. “To me, it was only natural to devote myself to this issue in my working environment, too. I have been following the principle of sustainability for years in my private life, anyway,” Katja remarks. It’s not all about environmental protection though, according to Katja: “Many people tend to forget that sustainability also includes economic and social aspects – and we’re steadily trying to increase our efforts in these areas, too.”

We review all measures each year in the early planning phase of a meeting and try constantly to explore further possibilities within the limits of what we can do as a non-profit organisation. These are the measures we will take in 2017 in an effort to make the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences more sustainable:

  • All electricity used for the meeting is provided by the Lindau municipal utilities, which run on 100% green energy
  • Young economists may use Lindau’s public bus system during the meeting week for free
  • The shuttle service for the Nobel Laureates partly consists of hybrid cars
  • Meeting bags are produced from sustainable materials
  • Meeting lanyards are produced from materials that are 100% recyclable, and no plastic covers are used for the name badges
  • Meeting tents: flysheets and floor coverings are reusable
  • All tents use energy saving lamps
  • Catering: regional and seasonal food
  • Mineral water is provided in glass bottles in order to avoid plastic trash.  
  • Local companies are selected for services such as catering, technical support or logistics
  • The proportion of printed conference materials is reduced to a minimum, and instead we make an advanced use of online devices 
  • Young economists are encouraged to use Atmosfair for their flights (details below)

 

If you can’t avoid it, compensate!

 

logo_atmosfair_EN_blue_font

 

An international conference can hardly avoid CO2 emissions caused by air travel of its participants; however, there is the possibility of making up for that by donating money to climate friendly projects. For this, we are partnering with the trusted German NGO Atmosfair. They offer a service that calculates the CO2 emission generated by your flight as well as the amount of money that should be donated in turn to climate protection projects to equalise these emissions.

If you are considering using Atmosfair for your Lindau flights, we would like to ask you to please use the embedded form below. This way, we will be able to analyse how many of our meeting participants are actually making use of Atmosfair (you can change the language settings on the bottom right of the window): 

 

We encourage all participating young economists to consider using this service for their travel to and from Lindau. As travel is organised by the young economists themselves, this is of course absolutely voluntary.

After Nerd Heaven: Once a Lindau Attendee, Always a Lindau Alum

It has been a few weeks since the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Chemistry and while you probably have gotten back in the swing of things at work and university, you probably are still walking around with a huge grin on your face. I know I am. I can’t stop smiling when I think about my experience at Lindau. The lectures! The laughter! The lifetime connections I forged! (And don’t forget about the food! Oh, the glorious Bavarian and Mexican food!) It was an unforgettable – and unreproducible – experience.

Now your colleagues are probably wondering why you keep showing off your pearly whites – what are you so happy about? They might not get it, but we do. I attended as a journalist, blogger and the chair of the Science Careers panel, and I get it and I get you. You experienced something amazing – you experienced Nerd Heaven. You were in a place that celebrates success and curiosity and insight and nature and encourages you to be scientific pioneers, exploring the frontiers of knowledge and our universe. You participated in a once-in-a-lifetime intersection of intelligence and impact. Of course you are still fondly thinking of it!

 

Young scientists during the 67th Lindau Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Now while your Lindau experience may have seemed like it only lasted one week, let me assure you that that is incorrect. The Lindau Meeting is simply the first step in a continuum of Lindau experiences you are about to enjoy. And you won’t be alone in this journey, because as a participant in the meeting, you now share the singular experience that binds you with every other Lindau attendee. You are a Lindau Alumnus or Alumna, and this is something special.

Alumni are extremely important to organisations and Lindau is no different. The success of future Lindau Meetings is dependent upon your success. As scientists, you are society’s gatekeepers, providing us access to information and ideas that move us forward. As Lindau Alumni, you matter, because you make science happen. And therefore you make Lindau happen.

So as new alumni, here are a few ideas to solidify and grow the networking momentum that you experienced at Lindau as you move beyond the place of Lindau and towards the concept of Lindau:

  • Review the Science Careers panel: you are sure to get additional insight into how and why to invest in your career in science, how you can make an impact, how you can pursue your career, what careers are accessible to you (hint: it’s limited only by your imagination!), and how to go about career planning. The panel provided invaluable advice and if you watch it again with fresh eyes, you may catch something you didn’t before. I know I did!

  • Keep your contact information updated: the Lindau folks will be contacting you. They want to keep you involved and engaged in Lindau and with each other. They are invested in your success in the future. So make sure you keep them apprised when you change jobs, institutions, and fields, and when you have triumphs. Key point – when you win the Nobel Prize, make sure you call them immediately after you hear from Sweden! But seriously, stay in touch, and take note that even if at some point you decide to pursue a non-traditional profession or arena, or decide to leave science (seemingly) altogether (fancy a career in cupcakes, do you?), you should still stay in touch. You are still an Alum. You still are still part of the Lindau ecosystem and you are still part of the Lindau family.
  • Take advantage of Lindau Alumni resources: over the next few months and years, you will be hearing about many projects and programmes that Lindau is planning to bolster its alumni network and create opportunities for you to succeed. They will be holding in-person events around the world and webinars related to career development, professional advancement, and job and career planning. They will be enhancing social media networking, so join them and contribute to the conversation. Be sure to join the Lindau Alumni Network. The Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings aims to grow the alumni network and continuously provide value to Lindau Alumni to meet your professional needs and objectives. So you can also let them know how they can help you!
  • Go through the calling (aka business) cards that you collected at the conference. Reach out to those people and let them know how nice it was to meet them at the Lindau Meeting. Connect with them on career networks, and then stay connected with them. Keep them apprised of your career progression. When you know that you are attending Conference X, email them and ask them if they will be too and see if you can schedule a dinner or a coffee appointment. Stay in touch. These are your peers and they are walking similar roads as you. Don’t let the networking you did at Lindau be for nothing. Cultivate those relationships.

 

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

  • Follow up with the laureates! You want to build a win-win partnership with the people in your networks, and the laureates are no different. So keep them apprised of your triumphs and trials, seek their advice, and help them to help you. And of course, look for ways you can help them, too! For ideas on how young scientists can provide value to leaders in your field, check out my article, Networking with Dr. God, in Science/ScienceCareers, featuring Nobel Laureate and Lindau participant, William Phillips.
  • Promote your Lindau experiences. Volunteer to give a presentation at you institution about the Lindau Meeting and experience, write an article for your local or university or association publication, offer to meet with colleagues who might have an interest in attending. Be a champion for Lindau so others can learn of its relevance and participate in it and invest in it (and become alumni too!).

 The most important thing is to remember you are part of a global team of individuals who have the privilege to be Lindau Alumni, and with great privilege comes great responsibility. Yes, there are many benefits you will receive as an active Lindau Alum – career advice and resources, ideas and inspiration, networking, and of course, greater potential impact of your science. But there is also something of value you can provide the scientific community, and that is to take the information, knowledge and principles that you gained at Lindau and disseminate them. Educate. Inspire. Connect. Lindau is more than a place, it is a platform and you must ensure that the ideas shared here are acted upon. As Lindau Alumni, you have that power.

Stay tuned for Lindau Alumni news, and again, welcome to the family! Your adventure is just beginning, and you have thousands of compatriots (representing 80+ countries) aligned with you to advance science, advance society, and advance humankind. I can’t wait to see what you and your Alumni brethren will do.

 

Young scientists during the 67th Lindau Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Lessons Learned at the Lindau Meeting

My main goal for the Lindau Meeting was not to discuss specific scientific matters (although I must confess that I did), but it was to discuss general problematic issues in science and in society. The meeting exceeded all of my expectations. The Nobel Laureates gave amazing lectures, which were  followed by insightful and enriching discussions. My take away messages were: work hard and pursue your goals, keep your eyes wide open for unexpected results, be flexible and do not fear the unknown, always question yourself and your observations.

 

Matías Acosta with other young scientists and Nobel Laureate George Smoot during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Matías Acosta with young scientist Jeffrey Poon and Nobel Laureate George Smoot during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

The first lesson learned: science is not a separate entity from society. We, young scientists, should communicate science to broad audiences. As pointed out by chemist Michael Lerch, we should remember our role within society and clarify the expectations of our work. This is especially true if our project is financed by public funding. We should not forget though that there are scientific reporters quite eager to communicate our work. So we have not one but two approaches to improving the disconnection between science and the public.

Young scientists are facing a constantly growing pressure of having to publish. Publishing for the sake of publishing rather than a mean to transmit knowledge has become a reality in many research groups. We are not in a strong position to combat this issue. However, there are some aspects that we should keep in mind to combat it and also improve the quality of publications.

For example, we should always stay ethical. Young scientist Karen Stroobants proposed that an important complement to our doctorate would be to receive ethical training, which received general support. We can also ask senior colleagues in case we have ethical issues or even search for ethical guidelines such as proposed by the National Academy of Sciences. Staying ethical is, in fact, part of our responsibility to help us establish a trustful connection with the public.

 

Karen Stroobants, Michael Lerch and Director-General of the OPCW Ahmet Üzümcü during a panel discussion at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo/Credit: lvd/Lindau Nobel Laureate Mettings

Karen Stroobants, Michael Lerch and Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the OPCW, during the panel discussion Ethics in Science at the 67th Lindau Meeting, Photo/Credit: Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Furthermore, publishing scientific work does not need to be limited to journals. Preprints precede journal publications and offer an attractive complement. Martin Chalfie highlighted the importance of preprints for open access, a fast time-stamp and potentially a more transparent reviewing process. The preprint archive arXiv has been accepted in the physics community since the 1990s. Currently, analogous preprint archives are being created in other communities too, so we should give them a try.

Martin Chalfie also taught us a remarkable exercise that he carries out in his group: a member of his group selects a preprinted paper on a cutting-edge topic related to their own research. They discuss this study during their group meetings, and constructive comments are sent to the preprint authors. This exercise raises new ideas in his group as well as in the authors’ one. It also helps to improve the quality of the future journal publication. This seems like a great scheme to adopt.

 

Martin Chalfie during his lecture at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Martin Chalfie during his lecture at the 67th Lindau Meeting, Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

The atmosphere of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was unique. I met inspiring colleagues from all over the world, with whom I shared very nice experiences. Taking part in the Lindau Meeting made us feel privileged. We do science because we are curious; we want to understand more about the universe. But we also should keep in mind that our work can have a long-lasting impact in society. I believe that many of the young scientists that I met will become future leaders. So, as young scientist Florencia Marchini said, “when one becomes conscious of the social and economic impact that our work can create, to take action is a matter of responsibility more than an obligation or a choice.” We do not need to open our eyes too wide to see all the problems that science and society are facing; it is our responsibility to get involved to solve them. We learned valuable lessons during the Lindau Meeting; now is the time to put them into practice and share them.