On Wednesday, October 26, I’ll be previewing one of the chapters of my current book project at the New York History of Science Lecture Series. The talk will look at the Congress for Cultural Freedom’s initiatives in science, spearheaded by Hungarian-British polymath Michael Polanyi. Science never took on the central role in the CCF’s operations that Michael Polanyi or the CIA agents who oversaw it originally envisioned, but it did play a role, and there is evidence to suggest that U.S. policymakers wanted it to play a larger one. This talk uses the story of the CCF’s failed science programming to explore broader U.S. visions of science as a tool for cultural diplomacy—covert, overt, or something in between.
The talk is titled “The Fight for Science and Freedom: Recovering the Role of Science in Cold War–era Cultural Diplomacy.” The event is free and open to the public, and starts promptly at 6 p.m. at Columbia University’s Fayerweather Hall. For full details, a map, etc., please see the official announcement.