CERN & Society – Spreading our spirit of scientific curiosity

With the third group of winners of the CERN Beamline for Schools (BL4S) competition on their way home after successfully conducting their experiments at CERN, now is a good time to take a look at the CERN & Society programme.


Established in 2014, the CERN & Society Foundation raises funds for a range of projects designed to maximise CERN’s impact by deploying our facilities and expertise beyond our core mission.

BL4S is among the most successful projects in the CERN & Society portfolio. Now entering its fourth annual cycle, BL4S has allowed hundreds of schools around the world to experience particle physics research first hand by preparing their proposals for experiments, frequently with guidance from members of the International Particle Physics Outreach Group, IPPOG, and other physicists around the world. Each year, two lucky winning teams come to CERN to carry out their experiments: a fabulous prize by any standard.

BL4S, however, is far from the only project in the CERN & Society portfolio. Within the domain of Education and Outreach, CERN & Society also supports non-Member State summer students, national teacher programmes, CERN-UNESCO schools for digital libraries in Africa, and PhD students at ATLAS. CERN & Society supports the Arts at CERN programme, as well as initiatives in innovation and knowledge exchange, including KiCad, an open-source software suite for electronics design, and the CERN-developed Zenodo data repository, which is much in demand. All of these initiatives ensure that CERN knowledge and expertise have a greater impact than CERN could achieve without the support of the Foundation. Just as important, they allow CERN to forge partnerships with the private sector, conveying the value of fundamental science to audiences that would not otherwise be open to us as multipliers.

Research is our core business, and for more than 60 years CERN research has enriched the pool of human knowledge immensely. It is our main mission and will remain so. But we also have a role – and a responsibility – to advance education, innovation and collaboration between nations, all of which supports our fundamental science as part of a virtuous cycle. We can all be proud of the successes of the CERN & Society programme and how it helps to multiply our work. It is in this spirit that the CERN & Society Foundation was established: spreading the CERN spirit of scientific curiosity, for the inspiration and benefit of society.

Charlotte Warakaulle, Director for International Relations​