The Role of Institutions in the History of Modern Science
Mathematics is ubiquitous and mathematicians can often reach good results just with pen and paper, so how could institutions possibly play any role in its development? Princeton, emerging as the centre of mathematical research in the 1930s is the most familiar counter-example. When Eduard Čech returned from Princeton in 1936, the sense of community fascinated him so much that it inspired him to found Topological seminar in Brno, believing he could achieve the same quality of mathematical research by following the bright example of Princeton.
A century ago, Masaryk University in Brno was founded as the second university with Czech as the language of research and teaching. In mathematics, the new institution provided freedom for the professors, who could actually start the tradition, just like Eduard Čech did with his Topological seminar. Taking the anniversary as a distant inspiration for the workshop, we hope to explore the expectations woven into the newly founded institutions. Research in mathematics and the sciences in the 20th century was co-shaped also by university as well as non-university institutions within which it was created. The mathematical societies, founded over the 19th century, including the societies for pure as well as applied mathematics, provided a meeting point. Newly founded state institutions (Masaryk Academy of Labour, Bureau d'longitude, National Bureau of Standards) as well as companies (including insurance companies) posed new tasks. Looking at mathematics from this point of view will shed new light on the role of mathematics and mathematicians in the modern society.
The meeting traditionally strives to support interdisciplinary debate and explore various approaches to history of mathematics and the history of science. We would like to offer a view of mathematics and science as an indispensable part of our modern culture.