Test bed of truly Euro science

February 2, 1996

Martin Daunton appears to have rewritten a bit of history in his glowing review of The origins of the Modern State in Europe, 13th to 18th centuries: economic systems and state finance edited by Richard Bonney (THES, January 26).

I am referring, in particular, to his comment that the European Science Foundation runs "seminar series that have attempted, often with scant success and considerable expense, to bring scholars together?" The ESF has done many things but one that it does not do is run academic seminar series. Our scientific programmes are very much more than that. They carry out research and often provide the impetus for the development of scientific fields. They enable leading researchers not merely to exchange views and experiences but to work together within a truly European scientific community.

The result is that the volumes that emerge from our programmes are the product, not of an artificial collection of individual monographs, but of a genuine collective and European effort. the current volume, edited by Richard Bonney, is a perfect illustration of the success of this method.

Finally, as for the suggestion that ESF activities take place at "considerable expense", Sir Robert May, the Government's chief scientific adviser, takes a somewhat different view.

Andrew Smith Head of Communications Unit European Science Foundation, Strasbourg

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