The PI requests funds on behalf of HSS (the History of Science Society), of which he is the Executive Director, to underwrite the cost of twenty-five graduate students, independent scholars, and junior scholars who are US nationals to attend the 23rd International Congress of History of Science in Budapest, Hungary, in July 2009; the Congress is sponsored by IUHPS (the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science). The travel funds will facilitate their attendance at the meeting to participate in sessions, meet overseas colleagues, and lay the foundation for new research collaborations and scholarly activities. Modest funds are also requested to continue membership in IUHPS on behalf of the four principal US-based societies that sponsor and support science studies: the History of Science Society, the Philosophy of Science Association, the Society for the History of Technology, and the Society for Social Studies of Science.
Intellectual Merit: The Congress is hosted by IUHPS, one of the most significant vehicles for fostering international opportunities and exchanges in the field. While meetings of HSS and closely related organizations do attract foreign scholars, the international congresses bring together a far wider range of scholars from widely dispersed geographic regions and diverse intellectual approaches. Moreover, the Congress tends to emphasize fields, including the history of geography, that are less frequently addressed in North American meetings involving the history of science. NSF has supported travel to the International Congress for many years, and regards such funds as critical for ensuring that US-based scholars most in need of support to have the opportunity to engage with the international community of historians of science. The dues payment serves to facilitate the participation of consortium members at the Congress meetings.
Broader Impact: The intellectual merit and broader impacts of this proposal are intimately connected, since the relevant activities focus on fostering intellectual collaboration and exchange in the area of science studies in an attempt to enrich and diversify the field both globally and in the United States. In addition, the travel grants for graduate students, junior faculty and independent scholars, is an investment in the future of science studies in the United States.
Public Summary This NSF award increased the standing of the U.S. in the international community. Not only was the History of Science Society (based in the U.S. but with an international membership) able to coordinate the travel awards of distinguished scholars and graduate students so that they could attend two international conferences on the history and philosophy of science and technology, the HSS was also able to strengthen the U.S. national committee (which represents the U.S. in the international congresses) by adding several international societies to a consortium that oversees this committee. The broad impact and intellectual merit arising from this grant were significant. The congresses, one for the Division of the History of Science and Technology and the other for the Division of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science, are the largest such gatherings in the world, attracting scholars from around the globe. The impact of the grants, therefore, can truly be considered on the global scale, and the meetings provided the best opportunity to demonstrate to the world the advances being made in U.S scholarship in the history and philosophy of science and technology. This global reach is important because science is the major narrative in the international community and understanding the nature of science is vital for any society that relies on scientific and technological expertise. As a recent report on Science and Engineering Indicators stated, "good understanding of basic scientific terms, concepts, and facts; an ability to comprehend how S&T [science and technology] generates and assesses evidence; and a capacity to distinguish science from pseudoscience are widely used indicators of scientific literacy. [However,] U.S. survey data indicate that many Americans provide multiple incorrect answers to basic questions about scientific facts and do not apply appropriate reasoning strategies to questions about selected scientific issues. Residents of other countries, including highly developed ones, appear to perform no better, on balance, when asked similar questions." (www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/c7/c7s2.htm) So not only does the work of these scholars help clarify the nature of science for those in the U.S., it helps with understanding on an international stage. The work presented by these NSF-funded scholars, from graduate students, to independent scholars, to recent recipients of the PhD, exhibited the quality of graduate training and of scholarly research in the U.S. The kinds of research presented by the travel-grant awardees varied widely, from an analysis of the cephaloscope, which is a diagnostic tool to aid aural surgeons in examining structural defects of the ear, to the heresy prosecutions of Giordano Bruno and Galileo. This high level of research and the renewed vitality of the U.S. national committee, one of over 100 national committees to attend these conferences, underlined the fertility and richness of science studies in the U.S.