12 November 2015
Laxenburg, Austria

Building bridges between science and policy

In a public lecture, renowned physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf speaks about the paradox of modern science: While research digs into deeper layers of understanding, it creates more distance between the scientific community and the general public. 

 © Spgirolamo | Dreamstime.com

© Spgirolamo | Dreamstime.com

This lecture is part of a series on scientific topics of mutual interest, aimed at a broad academic audience, decision makers and the public, organized in collaboration with the Austrian Academy of Sciences. 

The lecture will take place on Thursday 12 November 2014, at the Conference Center Laxenburg. The lecture takes place in conjunction with the Systems Analysis 2015 Conference, from 11-13 November. The lecture is hosted by Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat, Director General, IIASA and Anton Zeilinger, President, Austrian Academy of Sciences.


18:45-20:00 Lecture by Robbert Dijkgraaf: Building Bridges Between Science and Policy
20:00-21:00 Reception and Buffet 


Conference Center Laxenburg, Schlossplatz 1, 2361 Laxenburg.

There will be a bus leaving at 18:00 from MAK - Museum für angewandte Kunst (Stadtpark entrance), Weisskirchnerstrasse 3, 1010 Vienna, and returning to Vienna at 21:00. 

If you are interested in attending, please contact Phillip Widhalm ( or 02236-807-266) indicating also whether you need a bus transfer from Vienna to Laxenburg. Registration Deadline: 10 November


The global interactions of science and policy are caught in a web of great complexity. We are living in times of unprecedented levels of scientific knowledge and understanding. Yet, the climate in which to provide science policy is becoming very harsh, with stormy winds of public opinion and partisan politics. Many national and intergovernmental organizations lack the strength and resources to withstand these forces. 

Underlying all this is the paradox of scientific progress. While research digs into deeper layers of understanding, it creates more distance between the scientific community and the general public. On the other hand this knowledge becomes more and more relevant to our daily lives. In the end science can seem to be both infinitely far away and at the same time infinitesimally close by. 

In providing the best advice to national governments and intergovernmental organizations scientists have to close this gap with the public. In doing so, they have to navigate between two hazards: the trap of a too activist role, and the irrelevance and isolation of an ivory-tower mindset. 

They also have to do this in a coordinated international effort. Science is increasingly a global effort, as are many of the challenges confronting our world such as energy, climate, water, health, food, and the environment.

There is a tremendous need to build sustainable bridges between science and policy, and provide objective, authoritative, credible, independent, and peer-reviewed advice based on the best global expertise.

Robbert Dijkgraaf
Robbert Dijkgraaf is Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, one of the world’s leading centers for  theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. Past faculty have included distinguished scientists and scholars such as Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, John von Neumann, Kurt Gödel, and George Kennan.

Dijkgraaf, a mathematical physicist, has made important contributions to  quantum field theory, string theory, and black holes, as well as pure mathematics. Past President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently President of the InterAcademy Partnership, the global network of more than 130 national academies of science, medicine and  engineering, Dijkgraaf is a distinguished public policy adviser and passionate advocate for science, education, and the arts.

IIASA-OeAW Public Lecture Series

IIASA and its National Member Organization for Austria, the Austrian Academy of Sciences have organized a series of public lectures on scientific topics of mutual interest, aimed at a broad academic audience, decision makers and the public. The OeAW is the leading Austrian non-university institution for science and research; it stands for social discourse, the transfer of knowledge and basic research at the highest international level.

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Last edited: 16 November 2015


Pavel Kabat

IIASA Director General and Chief Executive Officer


T +43(0) 2236 807 402


Phillip Widhalm

Clerk: Directorate


T +43(0) 2236 807 266


International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313