History of Science and Technology

Our Approach

Columbia and Barnard have a constellation of faculty members located in a variety of departments and institutes whose research and interests lie in the historical development of scientific knowledge and in the processes—technical, social, political, intellectual, material and cultural—by which knowledge has been acquired, disseminated, and employed. We have particular depth in late medieval, early modern European and twentieth century US history of science, public health, and medicine.

Training in the history of science at Columbia does not occur in a department or program isolated from history proper. Students pursuing history of science do so while pursuing a regional and chronological area of specialization. While being trained in the broader chronological sweep of the history of science and medicine and the distinctive methodologies of the history of science, students receive training in more general historical methods, and are thus well prepared to enter the job market for positions in general history departments, as well as those in the history of science.

Our approach to the history of science, medicine and technology encourages the development of histories of science and medicine grounded within histories of intellectual and material culture, the transmission of knowledge, the global circulation of knowledge, objects, instruments, and technologies, and the interaction of knowledge, politics, and power. We aim to train scholars able to integrate the history of science, medicine, and of knowledge-formation into larger regional histories, with comparison among areas of the world and consideration of the international dynamics of knowledge-production strongly encouraged. The strength of the faculty at Columbia and Barnard in international and world history facilitates such comparative and international perspectives.

In addition to training historians of science, we offer historians of all regions and periods powerful tools for historically understanding the roles of science as significant force within modern societies with ramifications of all kinds—social, intellectual, cultural. Far from isolating the history of science from history, we work to include science in a more substantial way in survey teaching and graduate training in history more generally.

The University Seminar in the History and Philosophy of Science regularly brings prominent scholars to campus, as does the Metropolitan New York History of Science Society Section, a new consortium for the History and Philosophy Science that joins the faculty and resources of Columbia University, NYU, and CUNY. New York City contains an extremely rich set of institutions and libraries (New York Public Library, New York Academy of Medicine, New York Academy of Science, Bard Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate Center) and a concentration of scholars interested in historical epistemology and the history of science and medicine, as well as the links between intellectual and material culture, and the global circulation and flow of knowledge. We encourage students to develop research projects that draw upon these institutions and scholars.

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Faculty

Richard Bulliet, History, technology and culture in the Middle East
Deborah Coen, History, modern physical and earth sciences
Marwa Elshakry, History, Darwinism and biology in Egypt and the Middle East
Amy Fairchild, History and Ethics of Public Health, history of public health
Matthew Jones, History, mathematics, technology, and philosophy around the scientific revolution
Joel Kaye, History, science and medicine in the Middle Ages
William Leach, History, nineteenth-century natural history
Eugenia Lean, EALAC, science in late Imperial and modern China
Barron Lerner, History and Ethics of Public Health
Gerald Oppenheimer, History and Ethics of Public Health
Samuel Roberts, History, public health in 19th and 20th century Americas
David Rosner, History and Ethics of Public Health, health and safety; industry and public health
David Rothman, History, history of medicine
Pamela Smith, History, scientific revolution
Nancy Stepan, History, emerita, science/social science in Latin America in the 19thand 20th centuries
Carl Wennerlind, History, history of the social sciences and economic thought
Marcia Wright, History, emerita, science, medicine and public health in Africa

In other departments and programs:
Brian Boyd, Anthropology, anthropology of technology
Nadia Abu El-Haj, Anthropology, anthropology of scientific knowledge
Philip Kitcher, Philosophy, Evolutionary biology
Robert Klitzman, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Director of MA in bioethics
Eugenia Lean, EALAC, history of modern chinese science
Christia Mercer, Philosophy, early modern philosophy, Leibniz
Alan Gabbey, Philosophy, philosophy of science
Sara Tjossem, SIPA, environmental history
George Saliba, MESAAS, the exact sciences in the Islamic world

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Courses

Courses planned for 2012-2015

Graduate Colloquia and Seminars
Environmental History and the Cultural History of Landscape
Disease, Public Health and Health: Comparative Perspectives
Race and Public Health in the United States
A Social History of American Public Health
Social History of Medicine
Disease, Health and Healing in African History since 1850
Disease, Public Health and Empire:Comparative Perspectives
Colloquium on Technology and History
Seminar in the Intellectual History of Europe From 1000 to 1500
Medieval Science and Society
Population Control: Eugenics, Malthusianism, and Migration in the 20th Century
Topics in Early Modern European Cultural and Intellectual History: Institutions of Knowledge and Belief
Knowledge in Transit in the Early Modern World
Material Objects and the Circulation of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe
Methods in History of Science

Undergraduate Seminars and Lectures (often open to graduate students)
Bodies and Machines
Enlightenment and Science
Science across Cultures
The Scientific Revolution in Western Europe, 1500-1750
Subjects and Objects of Renaissance Knowledge
Animals from Aristotle to Agamben
Looking At Nature
History of Environmental Thinking
Technology and History
Medicine and Western Civilization
The Sex of Science

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Metropolitan Consortium for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine

Columbia University faculty in history/philosophy of science/technology/medicine:
Brian Boyd, Anthropology, anthropology of technology
Richard Bulliet, History, technology and culture in the Middle East
Deborah Coen, History, modern physical and earth sciences
Marwa Elshakry, History, Darwinism and biology in Egypt and the Middle East
Amy Fairchild , History and Ethics of Public Health, history of public health
Alan Gabbey, Philosophy, philosophy of science
Matthew Jones, History, history of mathematics, scientific revolution
Philip Kitcher, Philosophy, Evolutionary biology
Joel Kaye, History, science and medicine in the Middle Ages
Robert Klitzman, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Director of MA in bioethics
William Leach, History, nineteenth-century natural history
Barron Lerner, History and Ethics of Public Health
Christia Mercer, Philosophy, history of philosophy and science, Leibniz
Gerald Oppenheimer, History and Ethics of Public Health
Samuel Roberts, History, public health in 19th and 20th century Americas
David Rosner, History and Ethics of Public Health, health and safety; industry and public health
David Rothman, History, history of medicine
George Saliba, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, the exact sciences in the Islamic world
Pamela Smith, History, scientific revolution
Nancy Stepan, History, emerita, science/social science in Latin America in the 19th and 20thcenturies
Carl Wennerlind, History, history of the social sciences and economic thought
Marcia Wright, History, emerita, science, medicine and public health in Africa

CUNY faculty in history/philosophy of science/technology/medicine:
Evelyn Ackerman (Lehman, History of Medicine)
Timothy Alborn (Lehman, Victorian Science; Colonial Science)
Alberto Cordero (Queens;Philosophy of Science; Quantum Mechanics)
Joseph Dauben (CUNY, Mathematics in China)
Daniel Gasman (John Jay, Science in the Nineteenth Century)
Leon Gortler (Brooklyn, History of Chemistry)
Dolores Greenberg (Hunter; History of Technology)
Bert Hansen (Baruch; History of Medicine)
Hu Danian (CCNY, history of modern physics; science in China)
James Jacob (John Jay, emeritus;Scientific Revolution)
Arnold Koslow (Brooklyn, Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Mathematics/Logic)
Gerald Markowitz (John Jay; Sociology of Science/Medicine)
Matthew Moore (Brooklyn; American Philosophy; Peirce: Pragmatism)
Nancy Siraisi (Hunter emerita; History of Medicine; Medieval Science)
Jeffrey Suzuki (Brooklyn; History of Mathematics)
Xu Yibao (BMCC, history of mathematics; science in China)

NYU faculty in history/philosophy of science/technology/medicine:
Peder Anker (NYU History, history of ecology)
Karl Appuhn, (NYU History, Renaissance science and technology)
Gene Cittadino (Gallatin School, history of biology)
Myles Jackson (NY Polytechnic, history of experimental physics, biotech)
Gabriella Petrick (Steinhardt School, food history; history of technology)
Matt Stanley (Gallatin School, religion and science)

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