Nestled in a sylvan glade not far from the bustling Cambridge, Mass., campuses of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' headquarters--despite its attractiveness--could easily go unnoticed by a passerby. Likewise, the academy itself--its long history as a major intellectual and social force notwithstanding--remains unknown to many people.

"Certainly the arms control, federal government, and academic communities know about us, but our name recognition with the public is low," says academy executive officer Joel Orlen. "When I mention where I work, most people confuse the organization with the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that gives out the Academy Awards."

The academy recognizes accomplishment in mathematics, the physical and biological sciences, med- icine, the social sciences and humanities, business, government, public affairs, and the arts. And while its scientific roster includes such luminaries as National Institutes of Health...

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