Friday, March 04, 2011



What role does history play in the general public’s understanding of science and technology? History is often the tool for hooking audiences and making science relevant to daily life. From anecdotal introductions to sidebars in science textbooks, history plays an important, but often unexamined role, in explaining science to broad audiences. Most people first encounter the history of science and technology in their K‐12 science classes – their only formal science training – even if it is incidental and unrecognized. They continue to encounter the history of science and technology through a variety of informal venues: museums, libraries, television documentaries, and popular science writing.

The University of South Carolina will host a conference September 11‐14 to address the interaction of history, science, and the public. This conference seeks to examine: What role does the history of science play in the public’s understanding of science and technology? What is the role of museums, libraries, television documentaries, and popular writing in educating audiences about science? How can historians of science and technology best interact with science policy makers? What can university history departments and public history programs do to teach future science popularizers and educators?

The conference will open on Sunday afternoon with a reception and exhibit opening at McKissick Museum. The conference will continue on Monday and Tuesday with traditional paper panels and roundtable discussions. On Wednesday, there will be two half‐day workshops. The first, led by Ann Johnson, will focus on histories of emerging technologies, particularly in policy contexts. The second, led by Allison Marsh, will focus on museums, material culture, and training public historians. Potential themes to address include:

History of Science and public policy
History of scientific education and scientific literacy
Library collections and the history of science
Technologies of conservation of museum artifacts
Opportunities for digital technologies in public history
Journalism and writing in the history of science for the “general,” non‐academic audience
The role of federal government agencies in supporting the history of science
The value of internships in training scholars to use material culture in their research
How does the history of medicine affect current decisions about care?
The place of history in discussions about emerging technologies in policy and public understanding contexts
Keynote speakers include:

Robert Bud, The Science Museum, London
Sharon Babaian, Canada Science and Technology Museum
Peter Liebhold, National Museum of American History
Zuoyue Wang, California State University, Pomona
Deadline for Proposals: April 15, 2011. Accepted presenters will be notified by May 10, 2011

Conference organizers will accept both individual paper proposals and panel proposals. Alternative formats, such as roundtable discussions or object‐based interactive discussions, are encouraged. Proposals should be no more than one page long and should be accompanied by a one page CV. Email proposals as a single pdf document to Allison Marsh, Please list “PHoST Proposal” in the subject line. Limited travel support is available for graduate students, junior, and independent scholars.

If seeking travel funds, please include in your proposal a budget and justification for your transportation costs. Students must include a brief letter of support from their advisors confirming their status as graduate students and indicating how the conference will enhance their studies.

Conference papers will be considered for possible publication as an edited volume.

Conference Organizers: Ann Johnson and Allison Marsh.

We would also like to draw your attention to the Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy, September 15‐17, 2011 at Georgia Tech’s Global Learning Center. Atlanta is only a 3 – 4 hour drive or short flight from Columbia. For more information about the Atlanta conference, see their website at