History of Science

The University of Washington does not offer a formal degree in History of Science or Science Studies, but students interested in doctoral studies in these areas can pursue them within the framework of a history PhD program. One of the strengths of our MA program and our PhD program is the extent to which studies in history of science here at UW are integrated within the broader contexts of historical scholarship. We encourage graduate students in our PhD program to take advantage of the department's policy allowing one of the four doctoral graduate fields to be taken outside of the department. Useful fields might include topics in the philosophy of science, graduate-level study in one of the natural sciences for those qualified, or science studies undertaken in one of the other humanities departments within the University.

Associated Faculty

Bruce Hevly

Bruce Hevly

Associate Professor, Col. Donald W. Wietheuchter USA Ret. Endowed Faculty Fellow in Military History
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: History of Science

    History of Science

    A general field, designed to begin preparation of graduate students aiming to teach undergraduate courses or pursue research in history of science during their careers, and to introduce the general historiographical framework and development of the field. The field can be modified to meet the student's particular interests. This would normally be the second field for students interested in becoming historians of science.

    Science and Technology Studies

    "STS" engages in the variety of new approaches to understanding the sciences which have emerged in the wake of Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). Drawing from diverse academic disciplines, such as philosophy, sociology, and anthropology, scholars in the 1970s and 80s developed powerful and controversial new methods of analyzing science as a social construction or network, and critiqued the role of gender and race in scientific practice, theory, and organization. More recently, cultural and anthropological studies of science have presented new means to interpret science alongside alternative systems of human (and even 'non-human'!) action and belief. Postcolonial studies of science and technology have traced science's interactions with empire, development, and indigenous knowledges. Students taking this field will engage with these diverse approaches of recent STS through reading, writing, and discussions. A knowledge of the tools and concepts of STS has been indispensable for recent history of science, and the field will deepen and broaden participants' perspectives on science.

    History of Technology

    A general field, designed to begin preparation for graduate students aiming to teach undergraduate courses or pursue research in history of technology during their careers, and to introduce the general historiographical frameworks and development of the field. The field can be modified to meet the student's particular interests; in the past, students interested in environmental and western history have been important members of the seminar.

    History of Physics

    Introduction to the literature, practices, and current problems in the study of the emergence and development of physics since the beginning of the nineteenth century. Professor Hevly has particular interests in nineteenth-century British and twentieth-century American cases, but other concentrations are possible as well.

    History of Terrestrial Physics

    This is a more specialized field, which aims to explore the history of terrestrial physics as an alternative to the standard view in history of modern physics which has focused on the reductionist program of atomic and sub-atomic sciences. Topics include various studies since the eighteenth century: terrestrial magnetism and electricity, auroral studies, glaciology and ice caps, ocean sciences, studies of the upper atmosphere. Also considers expeditionary science, and developing connections between science and state.

    Science, Technology and the Military

    Exploration of the institutional, cultural and conceptual relationships between science, technology and the military components of that state since the early modern period. This field centers on the modern military as a set of self-consciously technologically-conditioned communities, and on science and technology as constrained by the aspirations, commitments and structures of the modern state. Depending on the student's area of interest, the field may also be oriented towards issues of science and gender, cyborgia, space programs, or other issues of interest. Professor Hevly's particular interest is the development of intellectual systems to enlist the Earth into reliably-functioning technological systems.

    Division: United States

    History of Science and Technology in American Culture

    This field is designed to explore science and technology in the context of American social, cultural, or intellectual history. Undertaking sufficient comparative history to justify claims about American peculiarities, the field will look for the ways in which American contexts since the seventeenth century influenced the content and construction of science and technology. It might be particularly appropriate for American historians interested in ways to integrate the history of science and technology into research and teaching programs in the broader field.

    View Bruce Hevly's complete profile