Humanities prof serves as president of History of Science Society

York University Professor Bernard Lightman will serve a two-year term as president of the History of Science Society (HSS), the oldest society dedicated to understanding science, technology, medicine, and their interactions with society in their historical context.

Bernard Lightman

Lightman, a professor in the Department of Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LAPS), was elected president by the members of HSS and stepped into the role on Jan. 1.

Founded in 1924, HSS is the world’s largest society, with more than 3,000 individual and institutional members across the world. The society’s primary mission is “to foster interest in the history of science, promote discussion of science’s social and cultural relations, and bring this understanding to others worldwide”.

The HSS has been integral to the establishment of history of science as a recognized discipline in the United States in the middle of the  20th century and to the growth of the field throughout the rest of the world.

Lightman has served as an officer of the society in several roles in the past, including society editor and vice-president.

Lightman said this position will give him the opportunity to serve the academic society that has been his chief disciplinary home since he was a junior scholar “with a very uncertain future”.

“One of my aims is to lead a fundraising campaign to enhance the current endowment so that we can continue the important work of the society in a time when the humanities are under tremendous pressure,” he said.

In 2011, Lightman was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

His books include The Origins of Agnosticism (Johns Hopkins UP, 1987), Victorian Popularizers of Science (U of Chicago Press, 2007), Evolutionary Naturalism in Victorian Britain (Ashgate, 2009), Victorian Science in Context (edited collection, U of Chicago Press, 1997), Science in the Marketplace (co-edited with Aileen Fyfe, U of Chicago Press, 2007), and Figuring it Out: Science, Gender and Visual Culture (co-edited with Ann Shteir, University Press of New England, 2006).

He was the general editor of the four-volume Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Scientists (Thoemmes Continuum, 2004) and currently edits a monograph series titled Science and Culture in the Nineteenth-Century, published by Pickering and Chatto.

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