The idea of establishing a Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS) was informally proposed at the General Assembly Meeting of the International Council of Scientific Unions [ICSU] in Bern, Switzerland in September 1986. Among the ICSU members supporting the suggestion were: Nobel Laureate Sir John Kendrew - President of ICSU; Professor MGK Menon - President-elect of ICSU; Professor Raimundo Villegas - later Chancellor of the Latin American Academy of Sciences; The Swiss Academy of Science; the Third World Academy of Science; the International Foundation for Science; the US National Academy of Science; the Royal Swedish Academy; the African Academy of Sciences; the Israel Academy of Science and the Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology. The Caribbean member on the ICSU Committee for S&T in Developing Countries [COSTED] was mandated to raise the idea within the S&T community in the Caribbean and to support efforts to found a Caribbean Academy. The COSTED Caribbean member who was then the Director of the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute [CARIRI] assigned CARIRI Dep. Director - Dr. Desmond Ali, the task of promoting the Academy and COSTED Caribbean provided financial support for the activities leading to the formation of the Academy, including the inaugural seminar.The next step was taken by the Physics Department of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago and subsequently by the Natural Sciences Faculty Board. They endorsed the idea and a small group of senior faculty members was asked to form a subcommittee to address all matters associated with the establishment of an Academy of Sciences for the Caribbean Region. It soon became apparent to the subcommittee that because of the relatively small size of the region and in particular the need to have a critical mass of scientists for the Academy to be an effective regional force for science, it was necessary to include not only natural sciences, but also the agricultural sciences which have an excellent track record for scientific research in the region, the engineering sciences which have and continue to play an important role in the development of an industrial base in the society and the medical sciences which have an excellent record of scholarship and the development of medical institutions in the region.
At a later stage and after much (sometimes painful) debate, the Social Sciences were included. It was in addition, decided that the Academy should not restrict itself to reside within the walls of the University of the West Indies but should embrace scientists of other universities in the region as well as worthy scientists working outside the university environment. It was also agreed that appropriate resources of the Trinidad and Tobago Science Association (TTSA) which was established in 1983 should be utilised.In October 1987, a steering committee consisting of the following persons was formed:
The steering committee organized the inauguration of the CAS
at an international seminar on "Science, Development and Society"
at the Central Bank Auditorium in Port of Spain, Trinidad on 16th
and 17th May 1988. regional dignitaries attending the
inauguration included Sir John Compton, the then Chairman of the
Commonwealth Caribbean Heads of Government, Senator Michael
Williams, President of the Senate of Trinidad and Tobago, and
Honourable Winston Dookeran, Minister responsible for Science and
Technology in Trinidad and Tobago. Academies of Science worldwide
either sent representatives or messages of congratulations to the
Academy. The seminar itself was a resounding success. The keynote
address was given by Professor W J Whelan of ICSU who represented
Professor M.G.K Menon.
Feature addresses were given by Professor G C. Lalor who spoke on behalf of the disciplines of Natural Sciences; Professor H Phelps who spoke on behalf of the Engineering Sciences; Professor Rolf Richards who spoke on behalf of the Medical Sciences, Mr Frank Barsotti a leading regional economist, who spoke on behalf of the Social Sciences; Dr Hayden Blades of CARICOM who spoke on behalf of the Agricultural Sciences and Dr C H D Madagza the representative of President Odhiambo of the African Academy of Sciences who spoke on "Some experiences of the African Academy of Sciences."
CAS in an effort to maintain its objectives strives to publish all scientific proceedings of the Annual General Meetings and a bi-annual newsletter which is distributed throughout the academy membership and elsewhere. In 2007 it launched an on-line e-journal for publication of conference proceedings and seminars.A number of Chapters of CAS have been established in the region:
Linkages have been established with the The Academy of
Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), who together with CAS,
sponsors an annual scientific award to a young scientist, the
International Council for Science (ISCU) and COSTED.
CAS is also a member of the Inter Academy Panel (IAP) which addresses international scientific issues. Regionally, CAS has formed close ties with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Universities des Antilles et de la Guyane.
Current membership stands at over 200 members, including scientists from the English-speaking Caribbean, Guadeloupe, Cuba, Guyana and Suriname. It is an independent, non-governmental body aiming to: provide a forum for interchange among scientists on important issues related to the application of science and technology to development; serve as a source of advice to regional, governmental and non-governmental organizations in scientific and technology matters; facilitate cooperation among scientists and promote the coordination and execution of scientific research in all its aspects; liaise with relevant research organizations and assist in facilitating their mutual interaction; recognize and reward outstanding performance and achievement within the region in the fields of science and technology; raise the level of scientific consciousness in the region and increase the public understanding and appreciation of the importance and potential of science and technology in human progress; establish and maintain high standards and ethics in all scientific endeavour.