10.1 Implicit in the proposal to create an Academy for the Mathematical Sciences (AcadMathSci) is the establishment of a Fellowship. The Green Paper gave some suggestions of how this would work; the responses to the Green Paper consultation were generally supportive, but there were some sceptical voices and some challenges identified. We are now firming up on the proposals – and are putting them to you for consultation.
10.2 We have considered what the Academy wants the Fellowship for (see paragraphs 10.7 and 10.8 below). We have reviewed the experience of other Academies, discussed several alternative models, and concluded that the best way of meeting these needs is with a Fellowship that embodies the full breadth and diversity of excellence in the field, structured along the lines of other National Academies.
10.3 This includes the expectation that Fellowship is regarded as an honour and an award; that once given, is only withdrawn under exceptional circumstances; that upon election, all Fellows must make a commitment to engage with and further the Academy’s work, and to abide by a code of conduct. It could potentially also include the restrictions that (a) only people who are currently active in the field, or in promoting the aims of the Academy, are eligible for election as Fellows; and/or (b) there must be evidence that they are likely to make a sustained contribution if elected. The exceptional circumstances described above are expected to be either non-payment of subscription fees (if there are any fees, see paragraph 10.11) or a clause, intended to be very rarely and perhaps never used, for serious misconduct.
10.4 Specifically, we envisage that the Fellowship of the Academy for the Mathematical Sciences would comprise people who demonstrate excellence in their field, are respected by their peers for their contributions towards the flourishing and support of mathematical sciences in the UK and its territories, and who support the aims of the Academy. We expect Fellows to be elected from all parts of the mathematical sciences community, including teachers, other educators, academics, and innovators and practitioners in industry, commerce, government and elsewhere.
10.5 We are aware of the importance of maintaining a vibrant and refreshed Fellowship. We are still exploring ways of achieving this, for example through working alongside the Young Academy, and/or ensuring that Fellowship is accessible to people at all career stages; and will be working with the Early Careers workstream to this end.
10.6 We are also mindful of the risk of the Fellowship choosing people like themselves as future Fellows, reinforcing existing hierarchies, and wish to avoid that. We will be working closely with the EDI, Early Careers, Education and Implementation workstreams to design search, nomination, selection and support processes to ensure that the Fellowship is open and accessible to the whole community. We do not expect this to mean lower standards, but a wider, more diverse and fertile Fellowship.
Purpose of Fellowship
10.7 Organisations use Fellowships in different ways. We propose that the Academy will rely on its Fellowship as a whole to:
- Ensure governance transparency and accountability. The Fellows will constitute the bulk of the legal members of the Academy and their personal and expert authority will inform their legal authority and duty to hold Trustees and staff to account.
- Give the Academy authority within the community. The Fellows will be elected because they are people highly respected by their peers, which will bring with it the ability to speak and be heard.
- Give the Academy credibility, authority and prestige with outside bodies, because they will know that the Academy speaks with the voice of the most respected and expert people across the community.
- Attract support for the Academy from influencers in the community, and help build Academy reach, connections and convening power.
- Provide leadership and capacity to complete the Academy work that needs to be done by mathematical scientists (for example when considering policy positions). Whilst some work can be delegated to staff (depending of course on funding available), and we anticipate that non-Fellow mathematical scientists will also be actively engaged in many ways, we expect that Fellows will play a key role.
- Act as a source of information about the current situation, and advice/ideas/sounding board for policy, advocacy and change.
10.8 We want a Fellowship that is active and engaged, but we propose to be flexible in specifying the form this activity should take. This is partly to ensure that the Fellowship is accessible to people with competing commitments – for example, caring commitments, and/or employers who do not see the benefit in allowing engagement during working hours – and partly to reduce the risk of competing for volunteer resource with existing learned societies, professional associations etc.
10.9 Fellows’ contributions could take many forms, for example:
- Being vocal about their Fellowship and the work of the Academy (promoting awareness and outreach) in their day-to-day work; being willing to take a leadership/influencing role on issues associated with the aims of the Academy.
- Recognising their ultimate governance role for the Academy, for example by voting thoughtfully and conscientiously when electing Trustees or on other matters.
- Being willing to engage in Academy committee work.
- Proposing/helping to design initiatives; responding to consultations.
10.10 We want Fellowship to be seen as an honour which prospective Fellows are pleased to accept. We see the benefits for prospective Fellows as:
- Recognition by people whose opinion they care about, and status in that community
- Feeling that they’re influencing and contributing to the health of a discipline they are passionate about across the entire breadth of the mathematical science eco-system, beyond their own specific field
- Opportunities to mix with other Fellows, providing inspiration, interest, networking, personal and professional satisfaction, helping to keep skills and interests up to date
- Building an understanding of the full diversity of mathematical sciences community
10.11 No decisions have been made on fees to be paid by Fellows. In common with other national Academies, we may well expect Fellows to pay an annual subscription fee. Such a fee would cover broadly the cost of servicing the Fellowship and be a tangible demonstration of Fellows’ commitment to the Academy’s charitable purpose. We recognise the importance of minimising financial barriers to participation – and will bear this in mind when finalising fee decisions. That includes considering the approach, used by some Academies and Societies, where Fellows with lower incomes pay a reduced fee.
10.12 Fellowship will not, however, be the only source of how the community can engage with the Academy. We expect, and very much want to encourage, that the Academy finds ways in which both Fellows and non-Fellows can contribute to the advancement of the mathematical sciences.
Q24. Do you have any comments on the proposed model of Fellowship?
Q25. “Excellence” is seen in many places in the mathematical sciences: in classrooms, – elsewhere in education, in research, industry, government, finance, charities and more. What does “excellence” look like in your field/sector/community?
Q26. We are determined that the Academy will have Fellows from all parts of the mathematical sciences community, including teachers and other educators, research, academia, and innovators and practitioners of the mathematical sciences in industry, commerce, government and elsewhere. We will also have Fellows from all fields of mathematical sciences – and a diverse and inclusive Fellowship. How do we best ensure equity, diversity and inclusiveness amongst our Fellows?
Q27. Do you have any suggestions for the criteria that might be suitable for selecting Fellows working in your area of mathematical sciences?
Q28. Do you have any other comments on these proposals?