Corinna R. Unger

Making Science European. Towards a History of the European Science Foundation

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Scientific Cooperation – Europeanization – European Integration.

This article presents a historical interpretation of the establishment of the European Science Foundation (ESF) in 1974. It places the foundation’s set-up in the context of the perceived «crisis of Europe» in the early 1970s, the reasons for which ranged from societal conflicts to economic challenges to the slow pace of European integration. The sense of crisis resulted in calls for a more active use of scientific research and for more coordinated scientific cooperation across national borders within the European Community. The article analyzes how different national science organizations reacted to the expectations voiced by European politicians and how they rejected political claims on science. The establishment of the ESF can then be read as the effort to maintain scientific independence while benefitting from the political interest in scientific research. To assess the implementation of this agenda, the article studies the work of the European Science Foundation in its early years, especially its efforts to represent truly «European» science and research. The article contributes to the historiographical discussion about the challenges of European integration on a non-governmental level and adds new perspectives to the historical study of the notion of «Europeanization».

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