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Study Group for the Foundation of Cultural Unity: records

Identifier: A07.03

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Scope and Contents

The Study Group for the Foundation of Cultural Unity (SGFCU) records date from 1965 to 1970. The records are arranged in four series: Correspondence, Administrative, Meeting Proceedings, and Papers. Letters to and from conference attendees and presenters are in the Correspondence series. Files from the planning office including financial records, receipts, and meeting memos are in the Administrative series. Meeting Proceedings include the transcripts of presentations given at the 1966 conference at Bowdoin College. The Papers series contains the typed publications that presenters produced for the conference.


  • Creation: 1965 - 1970


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

The 1965 and 1966 Bowdoin College conferences were part of an experimental initiative, driven by the Ford Foundation and the conference organizers, to reshape the prevailing intellectual ethos. They aimed to achieve this transformation by leveraging the philosophical ideas of Michael Polanyi as a catalyst. The Study Group on Foundations of Cultural Unity (SGFCU), led by Michael Polanyi and featuring members like Marjorie Grene and Edward Pols, orchestrated the Bowdoin conferences project.

The Ford Foundation not only financed the pivotal interdisciplinary conferences in 1965 and 1966 but also extended support to subsequent conferences from 1967 to 1972 organized by the SGFCU successor group, the Study Group for the Unity of Knowledge (SGUK). Notable individuals, including Marjorie Grene, Bronowski, Edward Pols, John R. Silber, Charles Taylor, Noam Chomsky, Barry Commoner, Hubert Dreyfus, Lon Fuller, George D. Gale, Eric Gustafson, Erich Heller, Iris Murdoch, and Michael Polanyi, became members of the group post-1968.

Grene, Polanyi, and Pols comprised the "original organizing committee" of the SGFCU. The inaugural 1965 Bowdoin SGFCU conference underscored the significance of imagination in fostering scientific discovery.


2 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials



Records of the 1965 and 1966 Bowdoin College interdisciplinary conferences of the Study Group on Foundations of Cultural Unity (SGFCU).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was transferred by the Philosophy Department in 2001.

Related Materials

A03.05 Department of Philosophy; M304 Edward Pols

Separated Materials

Duplicates of papers and meeting procedures were removed and discarded.

Processing Information

The collection was removed from the Department of Philosophy records accession to create a new record group for the Study Group.

Guide to the Study Group for the Foundation of Cultural Unity records
Emma Barton-Norris
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011 Repository

3000 College Station
Brunswick Maine 04011 USA
(207) 725-3288