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March 2013 update

//March 2013 update

March 2013 update

President Hasok Chang writes:

As we head into spring, our collective mind is focused on the forthcoming International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine to be held in Manchester on 21–28 July, for which the BSHS is the hosting organisation. It promises to be a very large and exciting event, with around 1,800 participants expected from 60 countries. We thank the tireless labours of the Local Organising Committee in Manchester, of whom James Sumner deserves a special mention.

For more information pertaining to the Congress please see http://www.ichstm2013.com/

Under the leadership of previous Presidents Sally Horrocks, Jeff Hughes and Frank James the BSHS has adopted a distinctly international outlook, of which the hosting of the International Congress is a crucial part. We are doing our best to enhance worldwide participation in the Congress, using the Society’s own funds to offer a number of bursaries to non-UK participants with severe financial needs. Equally important has been our active contribution to the ‘Three Societies’ conference (joint meeting with our sister societies in the US and Canada), which is the most major international collaboration of historians of science for the Anglophone world. After hosting this conference in Oxford in 2008 to great acclaim, the BSHS brought a significant presence to the equally successful Philadelphia meeting in 2012. We look forward to the 2016 meeting in Canada.

Our own beloved annual conference will return in the summer of 2014, after the two-year hiatus to allow us to focus on the international conferences. Meanwhile the BSHS has increased its conference-grant budget, to enable people to organise specific themed conferences in various parts of the country. This year saw BSHS support for conferences on The Cultures of Ancient Science (UCL), Medical Matters (York) and Popular Science, Altered Consciousness and 20th-Century Culture (QMUL).

The British Journal for the History of Science (BJHS) continues to flourish, having celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, which we marked with a grand reception at the Three Societies meeting in Philadelphia (featuring a welcome from former editor Janet Browne and a celebratory pseudo-alchemical demonstration by Jenny Rampling). Editor Jon Agar has built effectively on the great work of Simon Schaffer, with continuing assistance from Trish Hatton. Under Jon’s leadership the journal has enjoyed a much increased rate of submission and published individual articles and special issues of unrivalled quality. In addition the BJHS brings the Society the bulk of its yearly income, from profits shared with Cambridge University Press. Without this source of revenue many of the Society’s activities would be simply impossible. Our finances have been very healthy, thanks in large part to the wise and dedicated stewarding by our former Treasurer Peter Reed, now succeeded by the equally able Richard Noakes.

Nurturing the next generation of scholars by supporting our student members remains a top priority for the BSHS. We use the Butler-Eyles Fund and other resources of the Society to help students participate in key conferences. For the International Congress we have awarded 58 student-member bursaries, in effect waiving the registration fee for them. Our student members were a large and lively presence at the last Three Societies meeting, helped by BSHS travel grants. In addition, the annual BSHS Postgraduate Conference is always a highpoint of the year. The 2013 conference was hosted successfully at the University of Kent at Canterbury in January. These conferences are organised by students and for students, providing a supportive and friendly venue to present their ongoing research and share common interests and experiences. We have also begun a new scheme of grants for archival trips by graduate students, and made 12 awards last year.

Outreach, in its various senses, also remains a top priority. The improved BSHS website, ably managed by Liz Bruton, is an indispensable tool in this. Our magazine for members, Viewpoint, has just reached its 100th issue under the ingenious direction of Melanie Keene, building on the path-breaking work of former editors Rebekah Higgitt and Rosemary Wall. The biennial Dingle Prize, for the best history of science book accessible to non-academic audiences, was awarded to Patricia Fara in 2011, and we are now in the process of judging the 2013 award. Last year we also awarded two Innovative Teaching Grants, to Frank Stahnisch at the University of Calgary and Peter Fowler at the Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls.

It is my pleasure and honour to lead the BSHS at this crucial time. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my colleagues who serve on the BSHS Council and its various Committees, without whose dedication and care we could never do all that we do. This is also a good moment to thank some people who have recently finished their turns in key positions: Greg Radick as chair of the Communication Coordination Committee, Sabine Clarke as chair of the Outreach and Education Committee, Gowan Dawson as chair of the Programmes Committee, Joe Cain as BSHS Monographs Editor, and Anna-K. Mayer as the Society’s Archivist. And my special continuing thanks go to two people who hold things up even when the rest of us are not paying attention: Simon Chaplin, the BSHS Secretary, and Lucy Tetlow, our Executive Secretary.

By | 2013-04-28T17:07:16+00:00 April 28th, 2013|Presidential Message|Comments Off on March 2013 update

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