During the chemistry meeting, there was feedback and criticism from Young Scientists regarding the Lindau Code of Conduct and the issues of diversity and inclusion. The Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, as the responsible organising body, takes these comments and complaints very seriously and discussed them at the Council meeting in October 2022.
In its debate, the Council also considered suggestions for improvement and decided whether and how they can be implemented at future Lindau Meetings. These are the results of the meeting:
On the Code of Conduct
The Council considers it an important step that the Lindau Meetings 2022 were held based on the previously established Code of Conduct. In advance of the 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in 2023, the Council will review these guidelines and adapt them if necessary. Suggestions regarding further improvements of the Code’s text are welcome from Lindau Alumni.
Like this year, adherence to the Code will be binding for all participants at future meetings. To this end, the document will be made available to them in the run-up to the event and reference will be made to it during the opening ceremony.
As realised for the 7th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences in August 2022, there will be designated ombudspersons for future meetings. Participants may address these contacts in the event of an alleged violation of the Code of Conduct, either in person on site or by e-mail via email@example.com.
The Council also discussed the ‘Open Exchanges’ session format in great detail. As a core element of the Lindau tradition, it is to be retained unchanged as a format for a free exchange of opinions. If possible, Lindau officials will attend sessions to support this very trait. In this context, the Council would like to stress the importance of a good culture of discussion as part of the Lindau Spirit: Dissenting opinions are always allowed and welcome, they are to be respected, if necessary also to be endured – under the condition that their expression does not violate the Code of Conduct.
An open atmosphere between Nobel Laureates and Young Scientists/Economists is the aim of the Open Exchanges and is described by many as unique. Necessary for this atmosphere is a certain degree of confidentiality. To safeguard this, the Council suggests that possible differences of opinion should be discussed in direct dialogue and within the event itself – possibly in a smaller group at the end of the session. Misunderstandings should also be cleared, and, in the case of personal concern, a factual level of the debate should be mutually sought. A reasonable next step might be to talk to the ombudspersons, and selectively – in the eyes of the Council – is the discussed matter apt for public dissemination. With the Code of Conduct and related measures, the Council hopes to create an environment in which such open dialogue is possible for all.
On Diversity and Inclusion
The goal of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings has been – and will be in the future – to bring the best researchers from a broad range of backgrounds together in Lindau. In 2021, the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings explicitly decided against an on-site meeting because achieving this goal was not realistic at the time due to pandemic-related travel restrictions and other limitations. Unfortunately, this summer, the actual diversity of invited Young Scientists was not reflected on site, in part due to remaining COVID-19 regulations and travel restrictions.
Overall, the diversity among Young Scientists invited to the 71st Lindau Meeting was agreeable, continuing a welcome trend of the last few years that will hopefully continue in the future. Judging by the feedback we have received, many participants saw the meeting as one of the most diverse conferences they ever attended. However, there is still room for improvement.
Some sessions of the scientific programme, in particular the Next Gen Science sessions, did not reflect the international Young Scientist community adequately, neither in gender representation nor in other respects. For future meetings, the Council will improve its procedures to make sure that this session will better represent the scientific research done by our global science community. Thanks to the high level of scientific talent among the researchers each year, the measures of success for the selection process can be diversified without sacrificing quality or relying on token representatives.
Panel discussions at the Lindau Meetings are comprised of Nobel Laureates, Young Scientists/Economists and further distinguished experts. Participating in such a high-level panel requires in-depth scientific knowledge, but also certain skills to adequately present standpoints and discuss and defend arguments. Considering these requirements as well as the actual availability and willingness of requested panellists to participate sometimes leads to only a limited choice in panellists that not always fulfils all desired criteria of diversity. Nevertheless, the organisers of the Lindau Meetings continue to strive that panel discussions reflect the diversity of our participants in the future.
Panel discussions focussing on questions of diversity, inclusion or career development have been a core element of the meeting programme for years. Contrary to some impressions, the last day on Mainau Island is a highlight of the meeting week in the view of the Council. Historically, discussions on Mainau Island have been dedicated to topics at the intersection of science, society and culture. Many important milestones of past Lindau Meetings occurred on this last day, including the adoption of two key socio-political appeals, the Mainau Declaration 1955 on Nuclear Weapons and the Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change.
The Council considers the further development of the Code of Conduct as well as its responsibility and obligation to live diversity and inclusion at the Lindau Meetings as an ongoing process. Thus, we will highlight these issues, together with the Code, in due time to the meeting participants in 2023, and feedback, comments and further discussion from Lindau Alumni are always welcome.
November 2022, Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings