Finnish Academy of Science and Letters

Finnish Academy of Science and Letters

Finnish Academy of Science and Letters is the largest general scientific and academic society in Finland. It is a learned society covering the full range of academic disciplines which is devoted to the promotion of scientific and scholarly research and serves as a bond uniting researchers engaged in these activities at the highest level. It functions as a traditional learned society in the sense that its membership is limited and it selects its new members on their academic and scientific merits. It pursues its declared aims by arranging lectures and discussion meetings, publishing scientific papers, awarding grants and making recommendations and statements of opinion to the authorities in matters concerned with scientific and academic research and those who practice it. The Academy is represented on many scientific committees and in various organizations and foundations.


Seminar "Women, the Better Half of Science" is jointly organized by the French Institute and the University of Helsinki, at the Finnish Meteorological Institute 30th November at 11.00-17.35. | More information

Academy Club for Young Scientists

The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters undertook a new activity in autumn 2009, an ‘Academy Club for Young Scientists’. The aim is to increase interdisciplinary discussion and provide an opportunity for young scientists to express their views to other scientists and media. The club will have nine monthly meetings, each with a programme consisting of presentations by two young scientists dealing with their own research and its methodology. Membership will last for one academic year, from September to May, so that new members will be selected each year. The members are selected by the Board of the Academy. A small number of Academy members (1-3) will participate in the meetings as mentors. The meetings will be recorded on video, and will be available on the Academy’s webpage. More information

History - 100 years in 2008

The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters was founded in 1908 in order to unite and support Finnish-speaking scientists and scholars in Finland. The creation of a new learned society alongside the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, which had been in existence since 1838, was largely due to the language situation in Finland at that time. The prime movers in its foundation included Professors Kaarle Krohn and Gustaf Komppa, the latter of whom served as secretary general of the Academy from 1908 to 1944. The first chairman was Prof. Eliel Aspelin-Haapkylä. The accent in the early days was on the humanities, particularly topics and disciplines of a national character, but the natural sciences gained in strength later.

Structure and membership

The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters is divided into two Sections, representing science and the humanities, each grouped internally by disciplines, 7 in science and 8 in the humanities, with a fixed number of members representing each discipline.

Ordinary membership is granted to meritorious Finnish scholars, by invitation only, and particularly outstanding individuals or patrons of science or the arts may be named as honorary members. The Academy has also had the custom since 1924 of appointing foreign members. All membership questions are decided at the Annual Meeting held in April of each year. For more information see Members-page.


Regular meetings of the Academy are traditionally held on the second Monday of each month, except for the summer months, and consist of lectures or a panel discussion with introductory talks. These occasions are open to the public. The April event is the Annual Meeting, at which officials are elected for the coming year and financial and policy decisions are made. Meetings are normally held at the House of the Estates in Helsinki, but it has been customary to make one visit a year to another university town in Finland.

Grants and awards

The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters finances its own activities and makes grants and awards out of its own funds which have accumulated as a result of donations, legacies and investments.

The most notable of the dedicated funds at present are the Vilho, Yrjö and Kalle Väisälä Foundation and the Emil Öhmann Foundation. The Väisälä Foundation gives substantial grants to be made annually for research in mathematics, physics, astronomy, geophysics and meteorology. The Öhmann Foundation makes annual awards principally to scholars of Germanic philology and the German culture.

An award is presented from the Academy’s own funds at the Annual Meeting each year to a member who has achieved particular academic distinction, and four scholarships are granted to young researchers for outstanding doctoral dissertations. The Bernhard and Mimmi Lagus Prize is awarded every third year for the best paper in education to be published during that period, and likewise the Kalevala Prize every third year for the best research into a theme related to the Kalevala. The Väisälä Award, set up in the year 2000 to benefit 1 – 3 promising scientists each year who are at an active stage in their careers, is also financed out of the foundation’s funds.

More information about the grants and awards from Scholarships-pages.


The Academy began its program of scientific publishing immediately upon its foundation. Its main journals are Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, which is subdivided into four series, and Folklore Fellows’ Communications (FFC). From the very beginning the lectures given at the monthly meetings were published in the series Sitzungsberichte der Finnischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, which became the Academy’s Yearbook in 1977.

The Academy publishes the following series at present:

Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae

  • Mathematica. A journal with a broad international readership and list of contributors, annual volumes appearing in two issues.
  • Mathematica Dissertationes. A monograph series featuring high quality doctoral theses, published as supplements to the above.
  • Geologica - Geographica. A monograph series published as required.
  • Humaniora. A monograph series for research in history, philology and the arts, with 5-8 issues per year.

Folklore Fellows’ Communications

  • An internationally respected monograph series for research into folklore, religions, cultural anthropology and ethnology, with 2-5 issues per year.

The Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory has issued publications entitled "Veröffentlichungen des geophysikalischen Observatoriums der Finnischen Akademie der Wissenschaften" since 1921, containing mainly records of magnetic readings. Responsibility for this activity was transferred to the University of Oulu along with the observatory itself.