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The "Science Policy Actors" in Portugal presented at FCT


The Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) hosted a conference entitled "Actors ofSciencePolicy" on 10 and 11 December, which marked the opening of the cycle of conferences dedicated to the History of Science and archival heritage. This cycle results from a joint organization between the Institute of Contemporary History (IHC) of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the New University of Lisbon and the Science and Technology Archive of the FCT.

With an eclectic and pragmatic program, the cycle "Actors in Science Policy" showed, among the variation of geniuses, the professional relevance of doctors, in the first half of the 20th century, and engineers, in the second half, in the public administration of Science and its historical bodies in Portugal.

The panel of "Actors in scientific policy" was composed of: Augusto Celestino da Costa (1884-1950), founder of the Institute of Histology and Embryology of the Faculty of Medicine of Lisbon; Francisco de Paula Leite Pinto (1902-2000), first president of the National Board of Scientific and Technological Research-JNICT and Minister of National Education; Amândio Tavares (1900-1974), rector of the University of Porto, President of the Portuguese Association for the Progress of Sciences and founder of the Center for Humanistic Studies; António Mendes Correia (1888-1960), anthropologist and archeologist, president of the Junta das Missões Geográficas e de Investigações Coloniais and director of the Escola Superior Colonial; Manuel Abreu Faro (1923-1999), president of the Centro de Estudos de Electrónica and of the Comissão de Estudos de Energia Nuclear; and Kaúlza de Arriaga (1915-2004), Undersecretary of State for Aeronautics, professor at the Instituto de Altos Estudos Militares and president of the Junta de Energia Nuclear.

All these men, scientists and public managers, played important roles in science policy in Portugal throughout the 20th century, due to their direct connection with public policies for science management and to their positions in public organizations, such as the Institute for High Culture (later the Institute of High Culture), the Nuclear Energy Board or the JNICT itself, the ancestor of FCT, which we know today.The lives of these science policy actors were presented by a group of young invited researchers, experts in the History of Science.

Leoncio López-Ocón, from the Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales do Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Spain, was also present at the meeting. He was invited to Lisbon to present Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852-1934), who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1906 and also played a crucial role in the Junta para Ampliación de Estudios, a distant counterpart of the Junta de Educação Nacional. In his speech, López-Ocón did not fail to evoke the importance that Cajal's work had in Portugal, especially among those who became known as the Medical Generation of 1911.

The conferences culminated in a debate on the last day of the meeting, which focused on the issue of document preservation applied to historiographic production, knowledge and the reconstruction of the life stories of scientists from their documentary collections. Participating in the debate were researchers José Pedro David Ferreira (son of the histologist David Ferreira) and Tiago Brandão, from the IHC; Pedro Penteado, from the Directorate-General of Books, Archives and Libraries; and Tiago Santos Pereira, coordinator of FCT's Office of Studies and Strategy.

With a dynamic model, this meeting intends to establish itself as a reference event in the sharing of recent research trends in the history of science and, no less important, a privileged forum to debate and stimulate archival practices - public and private - as instruments for the construction of the memory of science in modern and contemporary times.