Historical Perspectives On Contemporary Issues

History of Science Society at 100

As the History of Science Society approaches its centennial celebration in 2024, its members reflect on the past 100 years of the profession, its fascinations and preoccupations, and its possible future in an increasingly globalized world. This podcast is a collaboration between the History of Science Society and the Consortium.


Jump to:

Episode 1 on the past, present and future of the Society

Episode 2 on women historians of science

Episode 3 on history of science in the movies

Episode 4 on global perspectives in the history of science

Episode 5 on the Society's publications

Episode 6 on songs in the history of science

Where has the Society been and where will it go next? Our first episode, hosted by HSS President Fa-ti Fan, kicks the series off with a discussion between HSS Presidents past, present, and future. Fan is joined by past Presidents Bernard Lightman and Jan Golinski, and current Vice President, Evelynn Hammonds. The group discusses what the history of science has meant to them, the value of history of science scholarship, and how the Society and its diverse members can expand understanding of the scientific enterprise and the contexts in which science is practiced.


Fa-ti Fan

Fa-ti Fan, Binghamton University

President, 2022-2023



Jan Golinski

Jan Golinski, University of New Hampshire

President, 2020-2021



Evelynn Hammonds

Evelynn Hammonds, Harvard University

Vice-President, 2022-2023



Bernard Lightman

Bernard Lightman, York University

President, 2018-2019



Closed captioning available on YouTube.

Recorded on April 26, 2023.

The discovery of a never-released report from 1973 on women in the History of Science Society provides an opportunity to reflect on how much things have changed, what has not changed, and challenges that remain for improving inclusion in the Society. Discussants in this episode are:

Tara Numedal

Tara Nummedal, Brown University




Samantha Muka

Samantha Muka, Stevens Institute of Technology




Margaret Rossiter

Margaret Rossiter, Cornell University




Matthew Lavine

Matthew Lavine, Mississippi State University




Closed captioning available on YouTube.

Recorded on June 5, 2023.


Moviegoers who might never pick up a book on the history of science may nonetheless find themselves confronted with the stories, themes, and questions to which historians of science devote their careers when they go to the movies.
Films and other forms of popular culture both reflect and shape public discourse about the significance of scientific discoveries and the legacies of technological achievements.
For this episode, we’ve convened a film forum. HSS Secretary Matt Shindell hosts a discussion of four recent movies with fellow historians Yangyang Cheng, David Hecht, and Amit Prasad. Each of the films take on history of science subject matter in different ways; they include Christopher Nolan’s newly released biopic, Oppenheimer, Sudhir Mishra and Sachin Krishn’s satire, Serious Men, Ryan White’s documentary, Good Night Oppy, and Jianya Zhang’s heroic depiction of Qian Xuesen.
Yangyang Cheng, Yale Law School
David K. Hecht, Bowdoin College
Amit Prasad, Georgia Institute of Technology
Matthew Shindell, Smithsonian, National Air and Space Museum
Closed captioning available on YouTube.
Recorded on July 27, 2023.

Join us for a discussion of history of science from the perspectives of Latin American, African, and Ottoman history — and global history more broadly. How have these perspectives been represented in the past? What has changed more recently? What are the pressing questions and challenges for the future of the field from a global perspective? Sharing their experiences and points of view on these issues:

Harun Küçük

University of Pennsylvania



Gabriela Soto Laveaga

Harvard University



Helen Tilley

Northwestern University




Closed captioning available on YouTube.

Recorded on June 5, 2023.


The current and incoming editors of the journal Isis reflect on their expectations, experiences, and hopes for the journal and for the field of the history of science.
Elise Burton, University of Toronto
Alexandra Hui, Mississippi State University
Matt Lavine, Mississippi State University
Projit Mukharji, Ashoka University
Sigrid Schmalzer, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Recorded July 31, 2023
Closed captioning available on YouTube.

Audio only:

Full video:

Four historians share their interests in music, and their perspectives on using songs as source material for better understanding the history of science.

Antony Adler
Asif Siddiqi
Fordham University
Betty Smocovitis
University of Florida
Songs mentioned in this episode:
Bio-Rad PCR Song - Timestamp 38:00
Cosmogony by Björk - Timestamp 44:50

Recorded December 11, 2023


Insights from the Collections
The Consortium's collections provide many opportunities to learn more about the history of the field of history of science, as well as the history of HSS.
Our cross-institutional search tool allows researchers to investigate materials across multiple institutions from a single interface. With millions of catalog records of rare books and manuscripts and thousands of finding aids, the Consortium's search hub offers scholars and the public the ability to identify and locate relevant materials.
Search the Consortium search hub.
Visit the HSS Centenial website
Learn more about the speakers
Fa-ti Fan
Jan Golinski
Evelynn Hammonds
Bernard Lightman
Tara Nummedal
Samantha Muka
Margaret Rossiter
Matthew Lavine