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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Science and technology at NATO

Date: Friday 27 June 2014

Venue: Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM), Simon Building, Brunswick Street, Manchester (UK), M13 9PL

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been an important patron for innovative research in Western Europe during the Cold War and beyond, but the history of this investment is yet to be written. We know that in the decade after the establishment of the alliance, this patronage aimed primarily at building the research infrastructure of integrated defence.

Following the launch of Sputnik in 1957, NATO science programs thrived and diversified, also thanks to the activities of the alliance’s newly established Science Committee. By the end of the 1960s, NATO’s research focus shifted considerably as the alliance looked for its “third dimension” and sought to sponsor environmental research more. With the end of the Cold War, NATO’s role as science patron has been less marked, but still visible nonetheless and recorded in a remarkable number of documents now available in the NATO archive.

This one-day workshop aims to promote a preliminary discussion on the history of NATO’s science programs by bringing together scholars who have researched this history; those who are currently responsible for administering the NATO archive; and former administrators of NATO research programs. It aims to promote a preliminary discussion on what has been research so far and what could be researched by scholars in the future.

Preliminary Programme

10.00-10.15 Simone Turchetti (CHSTM)
Welcome and opening remarks

10.15-11.00 Ineke Deserno and Nicholas Nguyen (NATO Archive, Brussels) Preserving the Alliance's Third Dimension: the holdings of NATO's Science Programme at the NATO Archives

11.00-12.15 Session 1: NATO science and technology before and during the Sputnik crisis 

Chair: Peder Roberts (KTH, Stockholm)

Roberto Cantoni (CHSTM), A threat for the military or for economy? A Cold War confrontation over NATO's steel pipe embargo

Friso Hoeneveld (University of Utrecht), European Air Defence, European scientists? The 1954 establishment of the SHAPE Air Defence Technical Centre in The Hague

12.15-13.15 Lunch break

13.15-13.45 Olav Blichner (former director of the NATO AGARD [Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development]), AGARD: Why and how

13.45-15.00 Session 2: NATO studies on the environs

Chair: Matthew Adamson (McDaniel College, Budapest)

Sam Robinson (CHSTM) and Lino Camprubí (CEHIC, Univesidad Autonoma de Barcelona), Surveillance, oceanography, and NATO: The role of science and technology in controlling European seas during the Cold War

Sebastian Grevsmühl (University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris), Vassy’s contributions to atmospheric research during the early years of the Cold War

15.00-15.15 Coffee break

15.15-16.30 Roundtable discussion: What do we still need to learn about NATO science? What can we do to know more about it? Discussion leader: Néstor Herran (University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris).

The workshop is part of the research project The Earth Under Surveillance (TUES) sponsored by the European Research Council.


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