Our story

Who we are

The Royal Society of NSW is a learned society with a 200-year history that traces its origins to the formation of the Philosophical Society of Australasia in 1821, with its purpose to 'awaken a spirit of research or excite a thirst for information' — a sentiment that is alive today through the mission of enriching lives through knowledge and inquiry, principally through public, interdisciplinary discussions and debates of important matters in the sciences and humanities. 

We contribute to a just, secure, and sustainable world by mobilising the multidisciplinary expertise of members, providing authentic and authoritative information, addressing national and global challenges, and recognising and promoting excellence. In doing so, the Society is integral to the social and economic well-being, and the profile and reputation of NSW.

Our values

The Society values liberal democracy, respects religious, political, and cultural freedoms, and promotes non-discriminatory, evidence-based discourse and the free exchange of ideas. We aim to be an effective public intellectual voice by comprehensively embracing diversity and inclusion in all our activities.

What we do

The Society:

  • Conducts meetings for the benefit of members and the general public — including monthly face-to-face gatherings and online meetings, named lectures such as the Pollock Memorial Lecture, the Liversidge Research Lecture in Chemistry, the Poggendorf Memorial Lecture in Agriculture, and the Clarke Memorial Lecture; special events such as Ideas@theHouse which is conducted in partnership with the Governor of New South Wales; and the annual Forum in partnership with Australia's learned academies that focus on important contemporary issues
  • Publishes a video record of its monthly meetings, named lectures, and special events (i.e., the annual Forum and Ideas@theHouse series) on our YouTube channel
  • Publishes the results of scientific investigations through its Journal and Proceedings and publication of a monthly newsletter
  • Awards prestigious prizes and medals that recognise outstanding achievements in research
  • Liaises with other similar bodies
  • Maintains a library that is an important part of Australia's historical heritage.

Our people

The Royal Society of NSW is a meeting place for people interested in ideas that matter. Drawn from the professions, business, academia, industry, and government, our members encompass a wide range of disciplines and knowledge.  This breadth and diversity of expertise, which makes the Society unique in Australia, provides a powerful platform for debate about today's most challenging problems.

The Society acknowledges up to 25 internationally-recognised contributors to world knowledge as Distinguished Fellows at any one time.  In addition, the Society benefits greatly from a strong cohort of several hundred Fellows, recognised as leaders in their fields within the disciplines of science, art, literature, and philosophy.  


Membership of the Royal Society of New South Wales is open to any person interested in the promotion of studies in Science, Art, Literature, and Philosophy and is an avenue through which individuals can share in the work of the Society. Further details of membership, including the benefits, categories of membership, and how to join the Society are available on the website. 


Regional New South Wales is served through the Society's branches which offer activities with a regional focus in addition to our state-wide membership services. 

Presently, there are three branches: a branch in the Southern Highlands, established in 1994; a branch in the Hunter region, established in 2019; and a branch in Western NSW established in 2021. Regular meetings are held in all locations and are well attended by members and visitors.







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