Helping CERN give back to society

The CERN & Society mission: ‘To spread the CERN spirit of scientific curiosity for the inspiration and benefit of society.’


Digital library schools in Africa, Arts@CERN, a beam line for schools competition and perhaps soon a dedicated biomedical research facility: CERN infrastructure and expertise have a great influence on society, and we have the potential to do much more. For that, however, we need help, and that’s why we have launched the CERN & Society initiative, which this week sees the publication of a new website for those who want to understand more about how our research touches everyday life, as well as for those who wish to help CERN in this new endeavour.

Fundamental research fulfils a very human need. The quest to understand the universe we live in is as old as humanity itself, and CERN is in the vanguard of that effort today. For our scientists and engineers, pushing technology to the limit is part of their day job, and in doing so they have created an unrivalled set of facilities for physics research, a pool of expertise that you’ll find nowhere else on Earth and a potential for society that we are only just beginning to exploit.

CERN & Society was launched some three years ago to realise that potential. It identifies projects, or potential projects, through which CERN can benefit society by building capacity, promoting scientific culture, or applying the results of our innovation to tackle immediate societal needs. All these things are vital for an organisation like CERN. They are part of our moral obligation, but they go beyond our core remit of fundamental research. We therefore needed to look beyond our traditional funding sources for support. To this end, we have established the CERN & Society Foundation, backed up by a development office and a set of ethical guidelines for our fundraising activity. Since its creation earlier this year, the Foundation has received funds from a range of organisations and individuals that are already helping us leverage the impact of our work to the benefit of society through a range of projects. The CERN & Society website launched this week outlines those projects, and allows anyone wishing to make a contribution to do so.

CERN has always worked hard to ensure that our innovation reaches society. The CERN & Society initiative aims to take that to the next level.

Rolf Heuer