Science in the Nation-State: Historic and Current Configurations in Global Perspective, 1800-2010

September 11-13, 2014, Tübingen, GERMANY

The conference allows for the exploration of the relationship between science and the nationstate from a new perspective. In nation-states that have traditionally been known to support research science (such as England, France, Germany, and the US), the profession evolved under the protective wing, and as an ally, of the political sovereign. Academic professions have played a significant role in the consolidation of national states.

The conference focuses on historical configurations of science and the nation-state in Europe and in North America in order to compare these configurations to emerging science-oriented states such as China and India –countries that have significantly expanded their science budgets in recent decades. The relationship between science as a profession and the national state will provide an analytical framework for discussing important historic developments in different countries. What has been the public role of the academic professions? And what are the effects on research of “national policy decisions”?

During the past two decades, national systems of research science have been exposed to radical transformations. Changes have included a reorganization of institutions of higher education, an implementation of administrative tools for the regulation and supervision of research, and they have also involved an unprecedented internationalization of science. During the course of a career, researchers today move back and forth between laboratories in Europe, the US, and Asia. The sheer number of international research projects and the extent of collaboration across national boundaries have probably never been greater and their expansion is actively supported by national science organizations. Through its “Bologna Process” (1999) and “Lisbon Strategy” (2000), the EU has sought to implement a “European Higher Education Area” and a “European Research Area,” and fields such as astronomy have taken the lead.

Universities are urged to increase their international visibility and they compete for promising students. Traditions of research and education in European or American countries no longer seem to provide an advantage over fast-growing university systems in China, South Korea, Brazil or the United Arab Emirates. Global rankings have established new international criteria for competition. Such measures have emerged from global management methods. Through organizations such as the OECD, they exert a standardizing pressure on traditional and national approaches to supporting science and education.

We would like to create an opportunity for bringing together historians, sociologists, and scholars in neighboring disciplines to reconsider the relationship between science and the nation-state. We are particularly interested in an analysis of the relationship between the profession of science and the nation-state since 1800 and in how this relationship has shifted in recent decades.

The conference takes place at Universität Tübingen from September 11 to 13, 2014. Pending financial support that we are currently applying for, we will cover presenters’ travel to/from Tübingen as well as accommodation during the conference.

Posted: September 17, 2013