Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Science and the Academy of Sciences under AKP government

Last Thursday (February 23), the Society of University Councils (Üniversite Konseyleri Derneği) hosted a panel entitled "Science and the Academy of Sciences under AKP's Rule" in Istanbul. GIT - North America had reported earlier on the governmental intervention on science in Turkey and the international response that this intervention had generated. Another important development in this regard was the foundation of an independent science academy in Turkey, the "Science Academy Society" (Bilim Akademisi Derneği). While 67 of the former 138 members of the Turkish Academy of Sciences (Türkiye Bilimler Akademisi, TÜBA) resigned after the governmental intervention, seventeen of them founded the Science Academy Society on November 25, 2011.

One of the founding members of the Science Academy Society, Ahmet Oral, a professor of physics at Sabanci University and a former member of TÜBA, was the first speaker at the panel on Thursday. After conveying the story of the foundation of the Society, Oral drew attention to the general silence of the Turkish universities while the government was intervening in TÜBA. Oral noted that the universities used to be more vocal in response to governmental interventions in science in the early 1980s even though there was a military regime in power.

The other speaker at the panel was Alper Dizdar, assistant professor of physics at Istanbul University. While admitting that there are more funds allocated for science under AKP rule, Dizdar emphasized the need to question the purpose these funds were actually serving. He stated that under AKP science is seen as a tool to open new areas for the representatives of big capital. Public funds are thus being transferred to the interests of big capital. Dizdar concluded by underlining the international dimension of this development, noting that nowhere in the world is capitalism using science in the interests of the society at large.

You can read a full report of the panel in Turkish on soL Portal.