When Eugene Seibold —German marine geologist, doyen of European science policy and president of the European Science Foundation (ESF)—f aces the problems of organizing international collaboration on the linguistically and culturally divided European continent, he says he is a realist. In Europe, where it’s unheard of for a French academic, for example, to be given a professorship in a German university, any real integration is unlikely “for another 200 years.” Seibold sees no opportunity to force the pace: Cooperation among European scientists should be allowed to grow of its own accord “over a bottle of wine in a restaurant,” he says, and should not be arranged by governmental dictate and politically motivated internationalism.

Seibold, a graduate of the universities of Thbingen and Bonn, teaches at the University of Freiburg. For six years he was president of the Deutsches Forschung Gemeinschaft, which funds German university research. Since 1985 he has presided...

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