Science and Technology in the 20th Century: Cultures of Innovation in Germany and the United States Conference at the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C. October 15-16, 2004
Jointly organized by Christoph Strupp (GHI) and Helmuth Trischler (Deutsches Museum Munich / DFG-Research Group 393)
Call for Papers
The relationship between science and technology has become more problematic on several levels in the twentieth century. In the face of an ever-growing complexity, technology has become more scientific and the natural sciences more technological, as the social scientific concept of „technoscience” indicates. At the same time, many technological innovations since the 1970s have only slowly resulted in job-creating new products. The „linear model” of the process of innovation established in the course of the industrialization, and dominant in perceptions of the relationship between science, technology, and the job market for almost a century, has entered a state of crisis.
Despite these general changes in the relationship between science and technology fostered by the process of globalization, important differences between the American and the German systems of innovation persisted through the second half of the twentieth century. Evidence suggests cultural factors stand behind differences in the structures, institutional arrangements, models and networks of innovation. These differences seem to be based in historically grounded values and outlooks that are largely untouched by periodic governmental attempts to influence innovation.
This conference will discuss the long-term change in the relationship between science and technology since the heyday of industrialization in German-American comparative perspective. Comparison of the two systems of innovation will clarify similarities (due perhaps to the character of new technologies) and cultural differences. Comparison will also shed light on the history of relations between the two countries. The histories of science and technology in Germany and the United States during the twentieth century can be written in large measure as a history of changing frames of reference. With the loss of the scientific and technical domination it held in the first half of the twentieth century, the German model lost its attraction in American eyes. The U.S., in turn, became the dominant point of orientation and model for Germany and (Western) Europe generally. Throughout the twentieth century, perceptions of developments in the other country and arguments about “catching-up” served to legitimize the particular interests of those active in science, technology, and business.
Possible topics for the conference:
Formation of cultures of innovation before World War II: Germany and the United States in comparative perspective
National cultures of innovation in the age of globalization: Germany and the United States after 1945
In the shadow of the „linear model”: The discourse on structures of research and the politics of innovation in Germany and the United States during the Cold War
Conference presentations and discussion will be in English. We welcome proposals from Europe and the United States. Please send a short abstract of 2-3 pages, in English, plus a short c.v. of no more than 2 pages, including a list of relevant publications to both conveners (pref. by e-mail):
Prof. Helmuth Trischler Deutsches Museum Museumsinsel 1 D-80538 München Germany e-mail: [email protected]
Dr. Christoph Strupp German Historical Institute 1607 New Hampshire Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20009 USA e-mail: [email protected]
The deadline for submission is March 31, 2004. Participants will receive lump sum reimbursement for their travel and lodging expenses.