The Académie des sciences was first established by Louis XIV in 1666, as the Royal Academy of Sciences, a chartered body dedicated to the scientific élite, which flourished until the turmoil of the Revolution, which lead to the suppression of all Royal Academies in 1793. The following reorganization of academic scientific life started again in 1795, with the creation of a single institution, the Institut de France merging within its structure three scattered remaining ‘classes’ of the former Royal Academies, those of Sciences, Humanities, and Arts. It is within the framework of the Institut de France that the Classes of Science and of three other disciplines regained their initial status of Academies in 1816. Meanwhile, Napoleon I – himself elected in 1797, as Napoleon Bonaparte, artillery general, a member of the Institut’s Section of Mechanical Arts – had established, in 1805, the seat of the Institut de France including four Academies (five since 1832) at its present location, the Palais de l’Institut, a former Royal College.
The Academy is the enacted body devoted to the advancement of science and its applications. It regularly publishes (in French and in English) seven series of a multidisciplinary journal les comptes-rendus de l’Académie des sciences covering significant new results in Mathematics, Eearth and Planetary sciences, Mechanics, Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Life sciences.
The Academy includes 140 full members, 250 corresponding members and 150 associate foreign members. It has a close partnership with the other Academies of the Institut de France and the National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF), the National Academy of Medicine and the Academy of Agriculture.
It has a special commitment to international scientific cooperation managed by the Board and a Delegate for international relations.
The relations with ICSU entail two main responsibilities:
- to represent France as national member, under the Chairmanship of Professor Marie-Lise Chanin;
- to implement French membership in ICSU’s Scientific Unions and Interdisciplinary Committees.
The Board is assisted by the Comité français des Unions scientifiques internationales (COFUSI), founded in 1967 by the Academy. COFUSI currently has 27 national committees to assist the Academy under the chairmanship of Professor Nicole Capitaine.