CALL FOR PAPERS: Conference panel: “Cross-National and Comparative History of Science Education”

At the 4th European Society for the History of Science congress, Barcelona (Spain), 18-20 November 2010

DEADLINE for Abstract submission:  20th January 2010


This session assesses the need of further cross-national and comparative work in history of science, medicine and technology prompted by current perceptions of disciplinary crisis, around questions such as “big pictures”, European centres and peripheries, the rise of global history, and the integration of non-Western science in the historical canon. It intends to do so, by focusing on the study of science education, and by promoting interdisciplinary communication between two subjects which rarely interact  (the history of science and the history of education). Cross-National comparison was a major driving force in the nineteenth-century organization of education. Educationists, scientists and students circulated across national boundaries and compared different educational systems, producing accounts which contributed to inform educational reforms in their own national or local contexts. In the same period, the history of education emerged as a discipline aimed at illuminating contemporary educational research and organization through a historical perspective. Cross-National comparison was a key method, which, in spite of various epistemological challenges has survived up to our days, giving rise to well-established academic fields such as comparative education. Historians of education have often approached the study of science from the point of view of institutions and curricula, producing in certain cases large scale international comparisons, and mainly focusing on primary education, and (increasingly) on secondary education. In contrast, historians of science have favoured tight accounts of pedagogy and training in local context, and commonly focused on higher education. In the last decade, some major works in this field have produced international pictures on science pedagogy, through the study of circulation of scientists and pedagogical tools. However, approaches are still too often restricted to local or national contexts, as they are in the history of science at large.


The aim of this session is to contribute to the historiographical development of the history of science and the history of education, by presenting papers dealing with more than one national context in comparative fashion, and including historiographical and methodological reflection on the characteristics, advantages, and limitations of this approach. The purpose of this session is neither to break national boundaries, nor to reaffirm them, but to discuss about them and through them and to show how cross-national comparison offers more accurate results than traditional approaches –explicitly or implicitly– restricted to the nation.Papers may not cover a whole country and can instead focus on comparison of regions or more local unities of analysis. Intra-national comparisons will be admitted if justified, although we will favour cross-national comparisons.

Papers are invited to deal in comparative and cross-national perspective with the following objects and themes:

– Pedagogical practices

– Curricula

– Pedagogical tools (teaching collections, pedagogical diagrams, pen and paper technologies, etc.)

– Institutions

– Examination frameworks

– Textbooks

– Teaching spaces

– Teachers

– Students

– Comparisons by contemporary circulating or transnational actors (teachers, students, educationists)

– Interactions between Pedagogy and Research


Abstracts for this session should include justification of What is going to be compared, Why, and How, and arguments explaining how you think that your comparative and cross-national analysis might contribute to change the current historiography of the topic tackled in your paper. Due to the complex nature of producing comparative research on more than one national context, collaboration between scholars from different countries –although not strictly required – is encouraged and always welcomed. Analogously, we seek to promote collaboration between historians of science and historians of education.

Please, include name and affiliation, and a 300-word abstract, making clear the objects of your comparative and cross-national study and the relevance to this session (What, Why, How, Historiographical Arguments). Send it as a Word or RTF document to Josep Simon ([email protected]).

DEADLINE:  20th January 2010

Contacts previous to the deadline are more than welcome. If you intend to submit a paper for this session and wish to discuss your contribution, do not hesitate to contact Josep Simon ([email protected]).

For information on the conference and registration deadlines see: