EU Science Hub

What can history teach us about the prospects of a European Research Area?

This report is the result of work carried out by the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities at the University of Bergen, Norway. The work was commissioned by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre at Ispra (Italy), and as such this report is the final deliverable of our Service Contract 257218 with the EC-JRC. The history of science has a lot to offer to contemporary debates on research policy and on science in society. This is especially true when the history of science is not seen as independent from political, economic and cultural history. This calls for a historical sensitivity also for challenges, problems, conflicts and crises; and such a sensitivity appears to be timely in present-day Europe, where the word “crisis” is taking a predominant place on public and political scenes. Having argued that the idea that scientific knowledge should determine or prescribe the course of action is in itself part of the 17th century solutions that contemporary society has inherited as part of the problem, the report suggests possible lines of action and reflection for the European Research Area focusing on European values including diversity and tolerance, universalism, democracy and public knowledge. The report also discusses Grand Challenges and Deep Innovation, reassessing the present function of the ERA, and what policy indicators might be of use.