Learned Society of Wales

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The Learned Society of Wales
Learned Society of Wales logo mark.jpg
Formation 25 May 2010
Type Learned Society; National Academy
Registration no. 1168622
Legal status Charity
Purpose To advance education, learning, academic study and knowledge, so as to contribute to scientific, cultural, social, environmental and economic development within Wales and beyond
Headquarters Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Research & Publications, Policy advice, Lectures & Events
H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Sir Emyr Jones Parry
Website www.learnedsociety.wales

The Learned Society of Wales is a learned society and charity that exists to "celebrate, recognise, preserve, protect and encourage excellence in all of the scholarly disciplines", and to serve the Welsh nation.[1]

The Learned Society of Wales (in Welsh, Cymdeithas Ddysgedig Cymru) is Wales’s first and only all-embracing national scholarly academy. A Registered Charity, it was established and launched on launched on 25 May 2010 at the National Museum of Wales.[2] and was granted a Royal Charter in 2015 .[3] It is based in Cardiff.[4]

It is an independent, self-governing, pan-disciplinary and bilingual organisation operating throughout Wales.


The Society was established to fulfil Wales’s need for an organisation that is able to demonstrate and celebrate the country’s scholarly excellence and achievement and promote and disseminate the fruits of research; to reflect and enhance Wales’s maturity as a nation and help raise its profile across the United Kingdom, in Europe and more widely; to enable the country’s intellectual capability to be properly represented and promoted on the international stage; and to offer its people, politicians and policy-makers access to well-researched, scholarly and objective advice on a wide range of public policy issues.

The Society’s Mission is to:[5]

  • Celebrate, recognise, preserve, protect and encourage excellence in all scholarly disciplines, and in the professions, industry and commerce, the arts and public service.
  • Promote the advancement of learning and scholarship and the dissemination and application of the results of academic enquiry and research.
  • Act as an independent source of expert scholarly advice and comment on matters affecting the research, scholarship and well-being of Wales and its people, and to advance public discussion and interaction on matters of national and international importance.


The Learned Society of Wales was established in 2010 (more than 225 years after the establishment of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, for example, and nearly 350 years after the establishment of the Royal Society in London). The creation of a national academy of learning had been a subject of interest and discussion in Wales for some years before then but the idea was taken forward in a practical way only in 2008, when a group of some twenty independent scholars representing the major academic disciplines came together to address and make good the lack of a learned academy in Wales. They formed themselves into a Shadow Council for what they decided should become the Learned Society of Wales and identified further eminent scholars (almost all of them Fellows of the Royal Society or of the British Academy) who, along with the original group, became the Society’s sixty Founding Fellows.

In February 2010, Sir John Cadogan was elected to serve as the Society’s Inaugural President and Chair of Council and, on 18 May 2010, having operated in shadow form for some months before then, the Learned Society of Wales was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. One week later, on 25 May 2010, the Society was formally launched during ceremony held at the National Museum in Cardiff.  

The University of Wales played a pivotal role in bringing about the foundation of the Learned Society of Wales, generously providing a grant, office space and other significant infrastructure facilities at the outset, and its support since then has been instrumental in ensuring the Society’s success and growth. Other Welsh universities soon joined the University of Wales in supporting the Society and, since 2015/17, all of the country’s universities have been providing financial support. Their grants are treated as contributions towards the core costs of the Society and as part of its unrestricted funds, thereby making clear that the Society remains fully independent. In 2015/16, grants from the universities comprised nearly three-quarters (£217,000) of the Society’s income.[6]


Rowan Williams, Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales

The Learned Society of Wales has over 450 Fellows, distinguished men and women from all branches of learning.

Election to fellowship is a public recognition of academic excellence.

The Society harnesses the expertise of the Fellowship to help promote awareness of how the sciences and the arts, humanities and social sciences benefit society. Fellows assist the Society in its work by serving on its various committees and working groups and by representing us nationally and internationally.

Fellowship of the Society is open to Welsh residents, those born in Wales or otherwise have a particular connection to Wales, who have a "demonstrable record of excellence and achievement" in academia, or who have made a distinguished contribution to knowledge in their professional field.[7]

Fellows of the Learned Society of Wales are entitled to refer to themselves as such and use the initials FLSW after their name. The Society has a Fellowship of more than 400 that includes distinguished men and women from across all of the scholarly disciplines (science, technology and medicine, and the arts, humanities and social sciences), as well as from the professions, industry and commerce, the arts and public service, giving it a breadth of expertise that is almost unique amongst UK learned societies.

Fellows are elected following a rigorous process of peer review . Nominations are proposed, and seconded, by existing Fellows of the Society. The nomination papers of each candidate are then considered by the relevant Scrutiny Committee, prior to further consideration by the Council and submission to the Fellowship as a whole for confirmation and formal election.

Scrutiny Committees, made up of Fellows, operate in the following areas:

  • Medicine and Medical Sciences
  • Cellular, Molecular, Evolutionary, Organismal and Ecosystem Sciences
  • Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy and Earth Sciences
  • Computing, Mathematics and Statistics
  • Engineering
  • Language, Literature and the history and theory of the Creative and Performing Arts
  • History, Philosophy and Theology
  • Economic and Social Sciences, Education and Law
  • General

Elections have been held each year since the Inaugural Election of Fellows in 2011, when 119 new Fellows joined the Society’s ranks, and, as of 2017, the Society has more than 450 Fellows .

The Fellows are all prominent figures who represent a high level of international expertise and knowledge within their respective academic disciplines and professions. The Fellowship includes some of Wales’s leading scholars, many of whom are also Fellows of other UK learned societies, including the Royal Society, the British Academy, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Academy of Social Sciences, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Royal Historical Society. Two of the Fellows are Nobel Laureates.



  1. ^ WalesOnline - News May 17 2010
  2. ^ WalesOnline - News May 25 2010
  3. ^ "LSW Royal Charter" (PDF). 
  4. ^ Times Higher Education
  5. ^ Wales, The Learned Society of. "Our Mission | The Learned Society of Wales". The Learned Society of Wales. Retrieved 2017-06-23. 
  6. ^ "Annual Report and Accounts 2015-16". 
  7. ^ Wales, The Learned Society of. "Criteria for Election | The Learned Society of Wales". The Learned Society of Wales. Retrieved 2017-06-23. 

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