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'Science and World Order':
Uses of science in plans for international government, 1899-1950


In this project I seek to understand the role of science in plans for international government in the first half of the twentieth century. In an era of two world wars, international crisis and rampant nationalism, the rationality, neutrality and efficiency of science seemed to offer the most promising guide to better international relations to several political thinkers. Belief in a scientific world order informed an array of initiatives, including the influential British writer H.G. Wells’ campaign for a World State, the creation of UNESCO and the ‘Universal Science’ manifestation at the World Exhibition in Mussolini’s Rome.

How the objectives will be achieved:
Using case-studies as the empirical basis of my research, this project seeks to uncover and historicise a number of these initiatives across the political spectrum and in different national contexts. For this purpose I will combine my own background in the history of science with training in international history at the Center for International History of Columbia University, New York.

Relevance to the Work Programme:
The project will bring the fields of history of science and international history together in novel ways, which will open up new lines of research in the ideological uses of science. This will enhance my international research profile and put me in a leading position at the return host, Maastricht University, where I will connect the research programmes ‘Science and Technology Studies’ and ‘Politics and Culture of Europe’. It will benefit the ERA by reflecting on the very meaning of the idea of a ‘knowledge-society’. And it will enrich public debate on the role of technocracy in the EU, via media contributions and discussion for a with policy makers.

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call


Minderbroedersberg 4
6200 MD Maastricht
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 359 081,90
Administrative Contact
Merle Achten (Mrs.)