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BSHS Digital Festival of the History of Science 2023

Beyond ‘Plato to NATO’: Reimagining the Introductory History of Science Course

The introductory history of science course sits at a potent curricular intersection, offering distinctive challenges and possibilities for disciplinary and other crossings of many kinds. This discussion/workshop aims to contribute to the community of history of science educators intervening in this intersection in their own ways, to share resources and ideas and to explore the potential of introductory history of science teaching in its varied curricular contexts. Participants will be asked to share their experiences and observations as well as resources and examples of teaching materials, and these (together with a report of the discussions) will be made available as an open educational resource following the festival. Depending on expected participation numbers and what participants share in advance, the discussion may be more or less formal and more or less guided by themes or provocations identified from advance contributions.

The session will focus on recent shifts and new directions in introductory history of science teaching. Some relevant themes include: the different places and roles of history of science in university curricula; relationships between sciences and humanities, as well as knowledge, technology, and society; curricular responses to sexism, racism, and ableism; and universities’ roles in global systems and the legacies of colonialism and decolonisation.


Here is a section of the wiki to organize questions and points of discussion.

  • Digital archives for teaching the global history of science (Jörg Matthias Determann)
  • Availability (or lack thereof) of primary sources in translation, and their affect on how we introduce students to actors' categories in non-western contexts.
  • Teaching with (or without) primary sources.
  • Making courses and assessments accessible and meaningful to students from different disciplines.
  • Chronological / non-chronological / semi-chronological / reverse-chronological (?) ways of organizing courses, and the effects of this on the themes, big pictures, and metanarratives that result.


Please share links or attachments here.


Anna Reser and Leila McNeill, Forces of Nature: The Women Who Changed Science. Frances Lincoln, 2021. Book

Peter Bowler and Iwan Rhys Morus, Making Modern Science: A Historical Survey (2nd edn). Chicago, 2020. Book


The Science Beyond the West group at the University of Pennsylvania held a 2019 workshop on collaborative pedagogies with a follow-up session at the 2020 BSHS online meeting, and gathered a number of syllabi in this Google Drive folder.

Determann, Jörg Matthias. “HIST 202 Q01 History Without Borders: Global Science (Spring 2023).” Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar, 2023.Course syllabus

Barany, Michael. Themes and Perspectives in the History of Science. University of Edinburgh. open-access course website

Milam, Erika. History of Science Technology and Medicine: Ideas and Methods. Princeton University. Syllabus

Wills et al (ed.), Women in the History of Science: A sourcebook. UCL Press, 2023 (open access). Book

Articles and essays about teaching

Determann, Jörg Matthias. “Teaching the History of Science with the Qatar Digital Library.” Communiqué 105 (2022): 31–33.Article

Delbourgo, J. (2019). The knowing world: A new global history of science. History of Science, 57(3), 373–399. Article

Other relevant articles and essays

Elshakry, Marwa. “When Science Became Western: Historiographical Reflections.” Isis 101.1 (2010): 98-109. Article

bshs2023/start.txt · Last modified: 2023/07/02 21:55 by mjb