The Estonian Academy of Sciences was founded in 1938 as a body of scientists and associated learned societies. In 1946 it was reorganized and, until 1995, acted also as an umbrella for various scientific institutions, including 19 research institutes. The Act on the Estonian Academy of Sciences was adopted in 1997. The primary mission of the Academy is to promote a knowledge-based society in Estonia by fostering the methods and practices of critical thinking in the society, by standing for high ethical standards, by encouraging knowledge transfer from science into national economy.
Currently, the Academy has 75 full members and 19 foreign members. Members are elected for distinction and achievement in their fields of research.
The Academy provides independent, highly reliable and unbiased expertise on science policy; promotes excellence in research; communicates and disseminates knowledge; enhances public awareness of science and scientists; enhances research co-operation at national and international levels. The Academy represents Estonian science internationally, e.g. in the International Council for Science (ICSU), Union Académique Internationale, ALLEA, etc., and supports Estonian membership in international scientific unions. On the basis of 32 bilateral agreements signed with the partner organizations, the Academy operates a scientific exchange programme.