CFP: European Society for the History of Science Biennial Conference 2018: ‘Unity and Disunity’

September 14-17, 2018, Institute of Education of University College London

The next biennial conference of the European Society for the History of Science will be held in London from 14 to 17 September. The core days will be the Saturday and Sunday.

The meeting is being organised by the British Society for the History of Science, with the active collaboration of the Department of Science and Technology Studies of University College London and the Science Museum.

The meeting will be based primarily in the Institute of Education of University College London, but sessions will also be held at the Royal Institution and the Science Museum. The IoE is a Grade II* listed building designed by Sir Denys Lasdun and is ideally laid out to manage a meeting of the size of the ESHS. The other two venues are easily accessible by a short journey on the underground (the Piccadilly line links all three sites).

Since at least the seventeenth century London has been one of Europe’s, indeed one of the world’s leading cities for science, engineering and medicine. The city is home to many internationally leading learned societies (such as the Royal Society of London, the Royal Institution, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Geological Society and the Linnean Society), as well as major museums (such as the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the British Museum and Royal Museums Greenwich), libraries and archives (the British Library, Wellcome Collections, Senate House Library), medical colleges (Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Surgeons), Engineering Institutions (the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers) and higher education institutions for teaching and research (University College London, King’s College London, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London). Virtually all of these organisations possess historically significant collections. To frame the core days of the meetings, visits will be arranged to a selection of these sites, as well as walking tours of scientific London.


Call for papers

The organising committee of ESHS 2018 invite proposals for symposia to be held during the conference. Symposia may take a variety of forms, including a standard panel, a commented panel, or a roundtable (see below). We welcome other and novel forms of symposia , but organisers are advised to discuss their ideas with the programme coordinator, Frank James (fjames @ in advance of submitting a formal proposal.

Standard panel

Four or five speakers in a 90-minute or 120-minute slot respectively. Each speaker presents and takes questions in their share of the session time one after another. The organiser may propose a chair for the symposium or have one allocated by the conference organisers; the chair may not be a speaker in the session. In addition to the symposium abstract, a paper abstract is required for each speaker.

Commented panel

Four speakers in a 120-minute slot. Each speaker presents one after another. A commentator nominated by the organiser offers a commentary on the papers after they have all been delivered. The session is then open to questions and discussion. The organiser should propose a commentator for the symposium and may propose a chair or have one allocated by the conference organisers. The chair may not be a speaker or commentator in the session. In addition to the symposium abstract, a paper abstract is required from each speaker, but not from the commentator.


Minimum of four speakers in a 90-minute slot. Each speaker makes a short opening statement on the roundtable theme; the session is then opened up to questions and discussion. The organiser may propose a chair for the roundtable, or have one allocated by the conference organisers; the chair may be one of the named participants in the roundtable. Roundtables are best reserved for discussion of professional issues and other topics that can be addressed through informal and personal reflection and discussion, rather than a formal academic presentation. A symposium abstract is required for a roundtable proposal, but paper abstracts from the speakers are not.

Selection Criteria

In selecting symposia for the conference, the organisers will give preference to those that address, in some way, the conference theme (see below). In addition, we warmly welcome proposals that reflect diversity in their line-up of speakersDiversity may result from including speakers with different institutional affiliations, different nationalities, and at different stages of their professional careers; it may also result from inclusion of speakers belonging to groups historically underrepresented within the profession, due to gender identity, ethnicity, disability, or other protected characteristic. We ask that all symposia proposals include at least one female speaker.

Symposia organisers will be able to comment on the diversity of their line-up when submitting their proposal, and this will be taken into consideration during the selection process. We encourage prospective symposium organisers to issue an open call for participants via the Mersenne mailing list (link) to help them meet this criterion.

Conference Theme and Strands 

The conference theme is ‘Unity and Disunity’. This can be interpreted very broadly, to address, amongst other topics, unity and disunity within and across diverse sciences, nations, periods, and historiographies; unity and disunity as ideals and realities; and unity and disunity as characterizing relations between the sciences and politics, technology, economics, and the arts.

As the conference will be hosted across several London venues, the organisers aim to organise submissions into coherent strands.Accordingly, we invite symposia that address:

unity and disunity within and across diverse sciences;

unity and disunity in science, technology, and/or medicine within and across nations and blocs;

unity and disunity in science, technology, and/or medicine within and across periods;

unity and disunity in the public culture of science, including public display and across media


Further instructions

If organisers wish to propose more than one symposium on the same theme, then they should use a single title for the connected sessions with a number to distinguish them, e.g. Unity in Modern Chemistry 1 and Unity in Modern Chemistry 2.

Please note that individuals may not appear in the programme as a speaker and/or commentator more than once, unless they are a plenary lecturer or prizewinner or one of the sessions is a roundtable. (Individuals may chair more than one session, however, and speak or comment in one session and chair another). Accordingly, individuals who have submitted an abstract as part of a symposium proposal should not respond to the call for standalone papers unless they have received notification that the symposium proposal was unsuccessful. The conference organisers undertake to inform symposium proposers whether their proposal has been successful by the end of January, well in advance of the closure of the call for standalone papers.

Proposals may be submitted from 20 October 2017  until 23.59GMT on 6 December 2017

For more information, please visit

Deadline: December 17, 2017

Posted: November 28, 2017