Creating an Action Agenda for Change in Europe

The Nobel Forum--a room usually associated with discussions of careers that are well advanced--was, in March of this year, the setting for a very different kind of discussion. Fifty industry leaders, policymakers, and young scientists met to discuss the obstacles that prevent too many talented early career scientists from building successful careers in Europe. But the participants, invited by the European Science Foundation, the Karolinska Institute, and Science's Next Wave, were charged with doing much more than just chewing the fat--the obstacles themselves are well known. Instead, this group was to come up with some concrete suggestions for changes that could improve the situation for Europe's young scientists--now.

This week, Next Wave is making the report of that meeting available online. And an accompanying editorial in Science, written by the report's lead authors, is highlighting some of its 14 specific tasks, for governments, industry, and academia, to the scientific community around the world.

So what happens next? Even specific action items are useless unless someone acts on them. Of course we at Next Wave, a publication whose entire raison d'être is to support the career development of early career scientists, will do what we can to implement the meeting's suggestions. And the meeting organisers are already pushing industrialists and policymakers to play their part, too.

But as you must surely realise if you've read much of what we publish on Next Wave, your career, fundamentally, is in your own hands. As Alex Lewis, president of the Council for Postgraduate Students and Junior Researchers in Europe ( Eurodoc), pointed out during the meeting, young scientists have an obligation to use their own networks to learn about different career tracks and to seek opportunities.

What else can you do? Read the report! Spread the word by making sure that others--at your institution and beyond--read it, too! And let us know what you think, either in our forum or by e-mail. Do you agree with the conclusions? Which actions, in your opinion, are the most important? Which are most urgent? Do you know of any places where individuals or organizations are already implementing the kinds of changes the report advocates? If so, let us know that too, because one of the things we can--and will--do is to help spread best practice across Europe.

But above all DO SOMETHING. Complaining is easy. It's when people have the courage to take some risks that things change!

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