Historical Studies of Science

The aim of Historical Studies of Science is to investigate the historical, cultural, social, and technological implications of nature and society. To achieve this, Historical Studies of Science combine, among other approaches, historical, philosophical, and sociological questions and methodologies. We ask, for instance, how the relationships between different fields of knowledge have been shaped and changed historically, and how the extraordinary status of scientific understanding can be explained by historical developments. How did new fields of knowledge come into existence, how did they spread, how did they become accepted and put to use? But also: were they refused, and how? Which knowledge was forgotten and why?

Historical Studies of Science scrutinize how science and technology influence the world in which we live today. We use historical findings and insights for the critical reflection of current topics, e.g. the knowledge-based society. In Bielefeld, Historical Studies of Science are an important addition to philosophy, economics, and sociology of science, among other disciplines. They function as a mediator in the dialogue between the humanities and the social sciences on the one side, and the natural and technical sciences on the other.

The range of topics includes the development of knowledge through observation, experiment, and theory-construction; science in the context of application; and popular science as presented by the mass media. We are interested in the analysis of institutions where knowledge is gained and from which it is circulated as well as in the study of their codes of practice and communication. In Bielefeld, the current focus lies on the history of science and technology, on the history of expertise and knowledge in methods, and on the history of the relation between science and the general public in the 19th and 20th centuries.