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Catherine Westfall

Institutets och temat Exploring Challenges for New Big Science gästforskare 2014-2015

Några ord från Catherine Westfall om sig själv och arbetet i temat

I have always happily worked in an interdisciplinary environment.  As a professor teaching the history of science and technology I am part of a faculty that includes physicists, chemists, mathematicians, biologists as well as historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science.  As a researcher studying very large scale projects at the U.S. national laboratories I have worked in teams that have included other historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science and alongside and in cooperation with physicists, chemists, and engineers.  

As someone who very much enjoys the creative atmosphere that emerges when scholars share different disciplinary perspectives and knowledge, I love working at the Pufendorf.  The people in our theme come from a variety of fields including those I have not had the pleasure of working with before – like business and law.  It is also very exciting to work in a multinational context with people sharing insights that come from a variety of social and academic experiences.  And of course, the Pufendorf building itself is a marvel, with its lovely architecture and illumination.

My project will take advantage of the resources available at Lund.  I will compare the founding of the ESS with the founding of three U.S. laboratories, Jefferson Laboratory in Newport New, Virginia; Fermilab near Chicago, Illinois, and the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, also near Chicago.  In addition to visiting the ESS site, I will gather information from a variety of scholars who understand the ESS, including those who helped bring the ESS to life.  In particular I am interested in learning the various contexts in which the ESS arose – Lund university, the Öresund region, Scandinavia, and of course, Europe as a whole, since this accelerator projects is hosted by 17 European countries. 

It is clear that there are some important differences between launching a large project in the U.S. decision making centered in Washington D.C. and starting a large project that must be approved in capitals throughout the European continent.  But what difference do these differences make?  And what to make of that which is not different?  In particular I would like to understand to what extent the ESS was shaped by the leading role Sweden has played in its gestation – the “Swedishness” of the project.  In addition, what is “European” about the ESS? Or put another way, what is “Europe” and “European” in the context of the development of the ESS? In the end I hope to have a reflexive learning process so that the ESS case (which is exotic for me) allows me to see the U.S. decision-making process (which I have studied for decades) from a different perspective so that I understand it more deeply.