World Federation of Scientific Workers

Doubravka Olšáková , Gordon Barrett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The World Federation of Scientific Workers was established after the Second World War, intended by its founders to constitute a new model of international scientific cooperation: a professional association with features of political activism. Founded as an international non-governmental organisation in London in 1946, it brought together trade unions of scientists and technologists and related national scientific organisations. Its engagement with issues of science and peace, alongside its close and complex relations with a range of influential state and non-state actors ensured it played an important, if often overlooked, part in science diplomacy during the Cold War. For much of its history, WFSW can best be conceptualised as a place of contact and a forum for cooperation between leftist scientists from the West and their counterparts in the East. However, from the outset, it also sought to be an international non-governmental organisation of global relevance. Its agenda has covered issues that have ranged from the social responsibility and engagement of scientists, and the status of scientists in society and international relations, to disarmament and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and international cooperation in science. Its evolution largely reflected the dynamics of the Cold War, which not only influenced East-West cooperation within the organisation but also made it notable as a site of East-East interactions in the field of science.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Non-State Actors in East-West Relations
EditorsPéter Marton, Gry Thomasen, Csaba Békés, András Rácz
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783031057502
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Mar 2024


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