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The International Biological Program in Eastern Europe: Science Diplomacy, Comecon and the Beginnings of Ecology in Czechoslovakia

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The aim of this study is to analyse the international scientific policy of the countries of the Socialist Bloc in relation to the establishment of the International Biological Program. It focuses mainly on Czechoslovakia as one of the main active members of the IBP and as a close ally of the USSR when it entered the realm of international science policy after years of targeted isolation forced upon it during Stalinism. The study examines Soviet international science policy strategy and coordination from the reinstatement of Central and Eastern European countries as members of UNESCO and the ICSU to the occupation of the highest positions within IUBS and the contribution to establishing the definitive shape of the International Biological Program. The influence that socialist countries gained thanks to their international coordination efforts allowed them to modify the focus of the IBP to best meet their interests. As a result, they also ended up influencing the development and direction of the biological sciences in the 1970s and 1980s. From the perspective of institutional history, the specific infrastructure of the IBP led to the creation of not just new types of research groups and institutes but also scientific committees, which, thanks to their official status and inclusion in the IBP, and later MaB, gained political clout. New ecological paradigms and the open dialogue between scientists across the Iron Curtain within the IBP was the first serious crack in the monolithic approach of the Socialist Bloc towards the environment, through which the road to environmental initiatives - which were very frequently linked to anti-regime attitudes - led.
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Keywords: Science policy; cold war; communism; environmental history; history of science; science diplomacy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2018

This article was made available online on January 23, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "The International Biological Program in Eastern Europe: Science Diplomacy, Comecon and the Beginnings of Ecology in Czechoslovakia".

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  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 0.698. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.806.
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