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history of science

History of science and technology

The history of science and technology (HST) is a field of history which examines how humanity's understanding of the natural world (science) and ability to manipulate it (technology) have changed over the millennia. This field of history also studies the cultural, economic, and political impacts of scientific innovation.

Histories of science were originally written by practicing and retired scientists, starting primarily with William Whewell, as a way to communicate the virtues of science to the public. In the early 1930s, after a famous paper given by the Soviet historian Boris Hessen, effort was focused into looking at the ways in which scientific practices were allied with the needs and motivations of their context. After World War II, extensive resources were put into teaching and researching the discipline, with the hopes that it would help the public better understand both science and technology as they came to play an exceedingly prominent role in the world. In the 1960s, especially in the wake of the work done by Thomas Kuhn, the discipline began to serve a very different function, and began to be used as a way to critically examine the scientific enterprise. At the present time it is often closely aligned with the field of Science studies.

Modern mathematical science and physical engineering as it is understood today took form during the scientific revolution, though much of the mathematics and science was built on the work of the Greeks, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Chinese, Indians and Muslims. See the main articles History of science and History of technology for these respective topics.

Universities with HST programs

  • Brown University has a program in the History of Mathematics. (This program is in the process of being phased out. There are no longer any full-time faculty, and no new students are being admitted to the program.)
  • California Institute of Technology offers courses in the History and Philosophy of Science to fulfill its core humanities requirements.
  • Carleton University Ottawa offer courses in Ancient Science and Technology in its Technology, Society and Environment program
  • Case Western Reserve University has an undergraduate interdisciplinary program in the History and Philosophy of Science and a graduate program in the History of Science, Technology, Environment, and Medicine (STEM).
  • Cornell University offers a variety of courses within the Science and Technology course. One notable course is called Science and Technology History Taught currently by Professor Peter Dear which centers upon the development of Science and Technology History from the Newtonian era up to the Einsteinian revolution. This class is one of the longest running classes at Cornell University and is offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and caters to students who want to learn more about the development of modern science.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology has an undergraduate and graduate program in the History of Technology and Society.
  • Harvard has a large undergraduate and graduate program in History of Science, and is one of the largest departments currently in the world.
  • Indiana University offers undergraduate courses and a masters and PhD program in the History and Philosophy of Science.
  • Johns Hopkins University has an undergraduate and graduate program in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology.
  • University of Kings College has a degree program in History of Science and Technology
  • Lehigh University offers an undergraduate level STS concentration (founded in 1972) and a graduate program with emphasis on the history of industrial America.
  • Linköpings universitet, Sweden, has a Science, Technology, and Society program which includes HST.
  • London Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology - this Centre was formed in 1987 and runs a taught MSc programme, jointly taught by Imperial College London, University College London, and the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a Science, Technology, and Society program which includes HST.
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology has a Science, Technology, and Society program which includes the History of Science and Technology
  • Oregon State University offers a Masters and Ph.D. in History of Science through its Department of History.
  • Princeton University has a program in the History of Science.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has a Science and Technology Studies department
  • Stanford has a History and Philosophy of Science and Technology program.
  • Stevens Institute of Technology has an undergraduate and graduate program in the History of Science.
  • Technische Universität Berlin has a program in the History of science and technology.
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona offers a master degree and PhD programme in HST together with the Universitat de Barcelona.
  • University of California, Berkeley offers a graduate degree in HST through its History program, and maintains a separate sub-department for the field.
  • University of California, Los Angeles has a relatively large group History of Science and Medicine faculty and graduate students within its History department, and also offers an undergraduate minor in the History of Science.
  • University College London has an undergraduate programme in History and Philosophy of Science in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, offering three BSc degrees. A taught MSc programme is offered through the London Centre for History of Science, Medicine and Technology. An MPhil/PhD research degree is offered, too. UCL also contains The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine which runs a postgraduate programme.
  • University of Bern, Switzerland, has an undergraduate and a graduate program in the History and Philosophy of Science.
  • University of Bristol has a masters and PhD program in the Philosophy and History of Science.
  • University of Cambridge has an undergraduate course and a large masters and PhD program in the History and Philosophy of Science (including the History of Medicine).
  • University of Durham, UK, has a 1st year History of Science module in the Philosophy department.
  • University of Florida has a Graduate Program in 'History of Science, Technology, and Medicine' at the University of Florida provides undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia has a History of Science and Technology Program.
  • University of Leeds has both undergraduate and graduate programmes in History and Philosophy of Science in the Department of Philosophy.
  • University of Manchester offers undergraduate modules and postgraduate study in History of Science, Technology and Medicine and is sponsored by the Wellcome Trust.
  • University of Minnesota offers graduate programmes and an undergraduate minor in History of Science and Technology and History of Medicine.
  • University of Oklahoma has an undergraduate minor and a graduate degree program in History of Science.
  • University of Oxford has a one-year graduate course in 'History of Science: Instruments, Museums, Science, Technology' associated with the Museum of the History of Science.
  • University of Pennsylvania has a program in history and sociology of Science.
  • University of Puget Sound has a Science, Technology, and Society program which includes the history of science and technology.
  • University of Toronto has a program in history and philosophy of Science and Technology.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison has one of the largest programs in History of Science, Medicine and Technology, with particular strength in medical history, history of biology, history of science and religion, and environmental history. This program was the first to exist as an independent academic department, the Department of the History of Science. It offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees as well as an undergraduate major.
  • Utrecht University has two co-operating programs: one in History and Philosophy of Science at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and one in Historical and Comparative Studies of the Sciences and the Humanities at the Faculty of Humanities.
  • Yale University has a program in the History of Science and Medicine.

Prominent historians of the field

Journals and periodicals

See also

Professional societies

References

Bibliography

Historiography of science

  • H. Floris Cohen, The Scientific Revolution: A Historiographical Inquiry, University of Chicago Press 1994 - Discussion on the origins of modern science has been going on for more than two hundred years. Cohen provides an excellent overview.
  • Ernst Mayr, The Growth of Biological Thought, Belknap Press 1985
  • Michel Serres,(ed.), A History of Scientific Thought, Blackwell Publishers 1995
  • Companion to Science in the Twentieth Century, John Krige (Editor), Dominique Pestre (Editor), Taylor & Francis 2003, 941pp
  • The Cambridge History of Science, Cambridge University Press
    • Volume 4, Eighteenth-Century Science, 2003
    • Volume 5, The Modern Physical and Mathematical Sciences, 2002

History of science as a discipline

  • J. A. Bennett, 'Museums and the Establishment of the History of Science at Oxford and Cambridge', British Journal for the History of Science 30, 1997, 29–46
  • Dietrich von Engelhardt, Historisches Bewußtsein in der Naturwissenschaft : von der Aufklärung bis zum Positivismus, Freiburg [u.a.] : Alber, 1979
  • A.-K. Meyer, 'Setting up a Discipline: Conflicting Agendas of the Cambridge History of Science Committee, 1936–1950.' Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 31, 2000

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