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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


An event marking the 50th anniversary of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science was held on 13–14 July 2023.

In addition to the two-day event in July, we organised a special seminar series called 'Classics of Cambridge HPS' during the 2022–23 academic year, in which we revisited some crucial contributions made by Cambridge scholars to the field of HPS over the decades. The classic works were presented by various distinguished alumni of the Department, sometimes in dialogue with the authors of the works themselves.


Day 1, Thursday 13 July: "How did we get here?"


Welcome and opening (Tim Lewens, Head of Department)


The origins and development of HPS in Cambridge

  • Nick Jardine, "60 Years with HPS", introduction by Staffan Müller-Wille
  • Panel discussion with former leaders of the Department: Jim Secord, Liba Taub and Andrew Cunningham, chaired by Tim Lewens
  • Panel discussion with college-based HPS scholars: Sachiko Kusukawa (Trinity College), Patricia Fara (Clare College) and Richard Jennings (Director of Studies at various colleges), chaired by Richard Staley

Panel discussion with former leaders of the Department

Tim Lewens, Jim Secord, Liba Taub, Andrew Cunningham


Lunch break (not catered)


"HPS and I": Reflections from distinguished alumni

Scholars in the HPS field (2.00–3.45pm)

  • Lorraine Daston (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin), introduction by Dániel Margócsy
  • Peter Galison (Harvard University), recorded message
  • Philip Kitcher (Columbia University), recorded message
  • Panel discussion with Ludmilla Jordanova (Durham University), Jonathan Birch (LSE), Jenny Bangham (Queen Mary, University of London) and Alex Aylward (University of Oxford), chaired by Jennifer Rampling (Princeton University)

Alumni in non-academic careers (4.00–4.45pm)

  • Panel discussion with Helen Macdonald (author and naturalist), Ivan Collister (Bursar, King's College, Cambridge) and James Hynard (Head of Pandemics and High-Consequence Infectious Diseases, Department of Health and Social Care), chaired by Anna Alexandrova


Quiz on the history and current state of the Department


Day 2, Friday 14 July: "Where do we go from here?"


Visions: Forward-looking remarks by friends and supporters of the Department

  • Stuart Firestein (Columbia University), introduced by Hasok Chang
  • Rebecca Flemming (University of Exeter), introduced by Philippa Carter
  • Sadiah Qureshi (University of Manchester), introduced by Jacob Stegenga
  • Panel discussion with senior figures in the University: Alice Benton (Head of Education Services), Emma Spary (Faculty of History) and Alexander Bird (Faculty of Philosophy), chaired by Katrina Dean (Keeper of Manuscripts and Curator of Scientific Collections, University Library)


Showcase of research by current PhD students

Kim Alexander (coordinator of the session), Thomas Banbury, Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh, Ruward Mulder, Janna Müller, Philipp Spillmann, Marabel Riesmeier, Amelia Urry, Oscar Westerblad

12.15–1.15pm: Flash talks (Arts School Lecture Theatre A)

1.15–3.00pm: Discussions with individual presenters, over catered lunch and coffee (Seminar Room 1 and Seminar Room 2, HPS Department)


Working groups on future directions of work (parallel sessions, all rooms in or accessed through the HPS Department)

  • Undergraduate teaching, chaired by Stephen John (HPS Seminar Room 2)
  • Postgraduate programmes, chaired by Marta Halina (Old Library, Whipple Library)
  • HPS with a global/international outlook, chaired by Mary Brazelton (HPS Seminar Room 1)
  • Relations to other parts of the University, chaired by Neil Dewar, Faculty of Philosophy (HPS Board Room, 1st floor)
  • Working with UK and international HPS communities, chaired by Hasok Chang (Graduate IT Suite, Phoenix Building)
  • HPS in public, chaired by Josh Nall (Learning Gallery, Whipple Museum)


Closing plenary discussion, including reflections from working groups, chaired by Hasok Chang


Garden party at Newnham College, with drinks and snacks