GEST-603 Knowledge Politics: How Science and Technology Shaped Europe
Fall for 2017-2018
In the 20th century, scientific-technological cooperation as well as competition deeply influenced the relations between Europeans and the way they positioned themselves in the world. With the rise of “knowledge economies” since the late 19th century, the production and dissemination of scientific-technological knowledge increasingly became a central resource for generating economic welfare and military power. In a highly competitive international environment, the struggle to harness this resource was at the heart of the emergence of dense networks of knowledge exchange between government, companies and international organizations. At the same time, however, the prevailing economic and political rivalries limited and channeled knowledge flows. What was shared, with whom, under which conditions, for which purposes and goals was subject to complex political considerations and negotiations.
Whereas in the first half of the 20th century the questions were dominated by the tensions of a profoundly unsettled international system that declined twice into the abyss of global war, in the second half science and technology turned into an engine of European integration. Cooperative projects in fields like nuclear, aviation or space technology played a crucial role in forging inter-, trans- and supranational partnerships. Their goal was not only to secure peace for Europe through the pursuit of common interests. Science and technology were also mobilized to strengthen the position of Western Europe in the bipolar international order of the Cold War. A technology-driven armament race with the Eastern Bloc made access to modern weaponry a matter of survival, and knowledge sharing with the United States was at the very heart of collective security. The United States was, however, not only as a friend but also as a powerful, often overbearing technological competitor that threatened to marginalize Western Europe in the world markets. Inner-European cooperation was thus a project pursued at least as often against as with the United States.
The seminar will shed light on these many layers of science and technology in European and transatlantic history since 1900 and will discuss larger trends and overarching concepts as well as case studies.
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Fall '17: Daniels M (description, file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.