The Years of Abundance: the Casimir Committee and Dutch Science Policy 1957–1970
In October 1958, a committee of six prominent Dutch scientists and industrial managers presented a brief report in which they requested a major increase of the science budget. This report has been described as a turning point in the history of science in the Netherlands, signaling the beginning of a decade of rapid growth of funding for ‘pure’ research. Surprisingly little is known about the backgrounds of this report, however. In this paper, I analyze its origin, its relation to contemporary higher education policy, and its consequences. As it turns out, the report was less revolutionary than is usually assumed: it mostly reinforced developments that had already begun earlier. Furthermore, Sputnik and the Cold War were not as important as is often claimed. This paper also suggests a reinterpretation of the justification of the government spending on academic research after the Second World War. Producing skilled researchers for industry was at least as important as produc- ing new knowledge.