About History of Science & Science Studies

Harvard Observatory Staff, c.1890

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine is an academic discipline of great scope and international reach that connects the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. It deals with important questions about the rise and impact of science, medicine, and technology, both east and west, and at all periods, including the very recent past. We are one of the first departments in this field to have been established and are proud of our history.

Who we are: The Department of the History of Science is a lively interdisciplinary community of scholars, undergraduate and graduate students, visiting researchers, and affiliated faculty in other Harvard programs. We seek to understand the sciences, technology, and medicine in their historical, cultural, and current contexts, using history as a tool to help illuminate how knowledge of various kinds has come to be configured as it is.  Faculty and students are interested in topics and issues ranging from the history of ancient and early modern science to those of our contemporary moment:  from medieval Islamic hospitals and the correspondence networks of Charles Darwin to the great debates of our time in the health sciences, from smoking to new forms of surgery; the overlap of technology and politics; nuclear weapons and nuclear waste; technologies of genetic modification; global climate change; space and space travel; technologies of surveillance; psychiatry and the psychotherapies--just to name a few.  Department faculty are trained in a variety of fields: in history and history of science, physics, biology, anthropology, sociology, medicine, law, Science, Technology, and Society (STS), and philosophy.  We are methodologically pluralistic, encouraging students to draw on an array of approaches, among them book history, technical analyses, and economic history as well as filmmaking, material culture, participant-observation, and museology.