Programme / I. C - The Future of the Universality of Science

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Day 1

Tuesday / 7 nov

16:30 - 18:00

Thematic session:
I. C - The Future of the Universality of Science
Organised by:  ICSU - CFRS
Venue: King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre, Petra 1- Sea Floor

The universality of science in its broadest sense is about developing a truly global scientific community based on equity and non-discrimination. It is also about ensuring that science is trusted and valued by societies across the world. As such, it incorporates issues related to the conduct of science; capacity building; science education and literacy; access to data and information and the relationship between science and society. 


The Principle of Universality of Science (current ICSU Statute 5) states that;

“The free and responsible practice of science is fundamental to scientific advancement and human and environmental well-being. Such practice, in all its aspects, requires freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists, as well as equitable access to data, information, and other resources for research. It requires responsibility at all levels to carry out and communicate scientific work with integrity, respect, fairness, trustworthiness, and transparency, recognizing its benefits and possible harms. In advocating the free and responsible practice of science, ICSU promotes equitable opportunities for access to science and its benefits, and opposes discrimination based on such factors as ethnic origin, religion, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or age.”

There are several ICSU activities and bodies addressing these issues as adherence to this Principle is a condition of ICSU membership.

The ICSU policy Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the conduct of Science (CFRS) serves as the guardian of the Principle and undertakes a variety of actions to defend scientific freedoms and promote integrity and responsibility. 


The thematic session will be an open item of the 23rd CFRS meeting.  A panel of three invited speakers will offer their perspectives on the state and future of the Principle of Universality of Science.  This will be followed by questions and answers from the floor and general discussion within the context of the following presumptions and concerns:

  • Despite decades of broad international support for the Principle of Universality of Science, a number of persistent issues around inequality and recent developments around the world indicate a shift in trust in science in society and among politicians and, in turn, challenge the foundation for universality and the capacity of science to contribute to societal development.
  • At the same time, borders between states and cultures matter little as we struggle to find sustainable solutions to global issues like energy, food, water and climate change.
  • The Principle of Universality of Science is one of the fundamental building blocks of a sustainable knowledge-led society.  Discovery and use of new knowledge to serve society depends on open borders between states and cultures.  It must avoid the pressure to select what is important or not important based on politics and opinion.
  • Universality includes openness and the ability of scientists to freely associate and share knowledge and to take account of different perspectives.  Openness is also critical for building capacity in countries with less-developed research systems, to allow them the same opportunity to grow and develop, and address the global issues that all countries are facing.
  • Openness also comes with a responsibility for scientists to communicate the results of their research clearly, openly and accessibly, and contribute to the removal of barriers to accessing the outputs of scientific research.


Event video