Description of the History of Science Program

The Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine has existed at the University of Chicago since 1976. It sponsors talks and workshops on topics in and around the history of science, and coordinates the History Department's Ph.D. program in the history of science. It is also closely connected with the University's Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, a Ph.D. program in the history and philosophy of science.

The areas of research of Fishbein Center faculty members range widely. One can see this in the titles and subtitles of their books:

  • Evolutionary Theory in the Nineteeth and Twentieth Centuries
  • Classical Probability in the Enlightenment
  • Pirate Radio
  • The French Psychiatric Professian in the 19th Century
  • Hermeticism and the Renaissance
  • How Habits of Mind Govern Scientific Belief
  • The Meaning of Evolution
  • Representing the Sexual in Medicine and Culture
  • Victorian Anthropology
  • The Nature of the Book
  • Statistics on the Table
  • Objectivity in Science
  • Historical Epistemology of Chinese Medicine
  • Politics and Psyche in France, 1750-1850
  • How the Sciences Make Knowledge
  • The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico
  • Modern History of Memory

The areas of research of Fishbein students range, if possible, even more widely. However, all involved with the center see an important role for the history of science in helping us to understand scientific theories and activities.

The graduate program in the history of science leads to a Ph.D. in history. Students thus take courses not only in the history of science and medicine, but also in other areas of history. They often (and, indeed, are encouraged to) take courses in other departments: in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The program is best suited to students who are interested both in the technical development of the sciences and in the broader social, cultural, or intellectual history of science, and who find rewarding the challenge of connecting the two.