National Museums Scotland in cooperation with the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, University of Edinburgh


Thursday 5 March 2009 3pm

LECTURE: ‘To encourage such as would travel a little, to travel more’:  trains, planes, cars, history and the future of mobility

Professor Colin Divall, York University and National Railway Museum

Location: Dunfermline Room, National Museums Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Admission free

Please register with Maureen Kerr on 0131 247 4274 or [email protected]

This talk explores how we could use and develop the history of transport in ways that stimulate debate about how we might move around in the future. The threat from climate change underscores the urgency of this debate, and there are several advantages to considering it in relation to history.  At the most basic level, people want a sense of how we find ourselves in our present predicaments. And history can inform policy by showing how over the long-term choices at the collective and personal levels tend to lock society into particular ways of moving, and how even apparently impregnable transport systems can eventually become obsolete. In this way, history can suggest appropriate ways of intervening so that we can individually and collectively start to take control of our mobility. One way is to try to shift our attitudes towards personal mobility. But these are very deeply entrenched, making them difficult to change. Some people suggest that technology will provide a solution to the challenge of climate change. But history suggests it would be unwise to rely on this. Finally, museums offer one medium in which we can try to stimulate public debate about history and the future of mobility.


a series of public lectures presenting leading international research and ideas in the history, philosophy, politics and sociology of technology