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"Radioactivitat en l'esfera pública"

La Escola de Primavera en Història de la Ciència i Popularizació tindrà lloc en Maig del 2009 a Maó, Menorca
Néstor Herran 03/12/2008

5th European Spring School of History of Science and Popularization:
International workshop “Radioactivity in the Public Sphere”

Maó (Menorca), 21-23 May 2009

Institut Menorquí d’Estudis (IME)
Societat Catalana d’Història de la Ciència i de la Tècnica (SCHCT)
European Society for the History of Science (ESHS)
Centre d’Història de la Ciència (CEHIC), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Radioactivity and nuclear energy have featured extensively in media since early 20th century, and therefore constitute an excellent terrain to study the interaction between science and its publics. Being initially portrayed as a medical and technological wonder, the destructive power released in Hiroshima and Nagasaki reinforced fears about the damaging effects of radioactivity. This double-faced nature, which mirrors the dual character of being a heavily promoted and much contested science, makes radioactivity a most interesting vehicle to explore discipline building strategies through the media, popular appropriations and risk management strategies.

The fifth edition of the European Spring School will focus on two major issues: the historical evolution of public perception of radioactivity, and the role of media in shaping public perception of radioactivity’s benefits and dangers. A variety of actors would be considered in this discussion, including scientists, the state and the media.

Scientific Coordinator: Néstor Herran.

Organizing Committee: Àlvar Martínez-Vidal, Néstor Herran, Josep Miquel Vidal, Jaume Sastre, Yoko Tochigi, Sara Lugo.


Thursday 21 May 2009
11:00                     Participants welcome

Evening session
16:00-16:30         Opening address

Néstor Herran (CEHIC, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

16:30-17:30         “Marie Curie and the public image of radioactivity”

Xavier Roqué (Centre d’Història de la Ciència, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

17:30-18:00         Discussion

Friday 22 May 2009
Morning session
9:00-10:30            “Radioactivity and government civil defence advice to the public, 1945-68”

Melissa Smith (Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester)

10:30-11:00         Discussion

11:00-11:30         Coffee break

11:30-13:00         “Radioactivity as Social and Public Problem: Governing Radioactivity Risks”

Soraya Boudia (Institut de Recherches Interdisciplinaires sur les Sciences et la Technologie, Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg)

13:00-13:30         Discussion

Evening session

16:00-17:30         “Nuclear medical technologies on the screen: using Spanish official

newsreel (NO-DO) as a source for the history of the public image of radioactivity in Franco Spain” 

Alfredo Menéndez-Navarro (Departamento de A. P. e Historia de la Ciencia, Universidad de Granada)

17:30-18:00         Discussion

Saturday 23 May 2009
Morning session
10:00-11:30         Round table: “The public image of radioactivity in historical perspective”

Chairman: Bruno Strasser (Department of History, Yale University)

11:30-12:00         Coffee break
12:00-13:00         General discussion

The School sessions and discussion will be conducted in English

Place: Institut Menorquí d’Estudis (Camí des Castell, Maó, Menorca)


Registration Pack 1: 300 euros
(includes conference fees, lodging in individual room and lunches)

Registration Pack 2: 200 euros
(includes conference fees, lodging in shared room and lunches)

Registration Pack 3: 100 euros
(includes conference fees and lunches)


Early registrants (before March 15, 2009) receive a 50 euros discount on conference fees.


February, 15th, 2009: deadline for applying for attendance grants
March 2nd, 2009: concession of grants

March 15th, 2009: deadline for registration with discount
April, 15th, 2009: deadline for registration
May, 21-23, 2009: Spring School


The organisation strongly recommends payment by means of bank transfer to the bank account 2100 0963 67 0200031280, IBAN: ES30 2100 0963 6702 0003 1280 (Caixa d’Estalvis i Pensions de Barcelona, Office 0963, carrer del Carme 44, 08001 Barcelona).

Payment by credit card or cheque is also possible. Ask the organisation for the special form.


Registration forms can be downloaded from the of the 5th European Spring School webpage at the SCHCT website:


A limited number of grants will be provided in order to cover registration fees (only packs 2 or 3) and/or travel expenses. Applicants may apply by sending the registration form, a short CV (1 page) and a motivation letter by e-mail to before February, 15th, 2009. Credit card information (number and expiry date) will be required to awarded participants in order to guaranteeing their attendance to the school.

For further information please contact:

Institut d’Estudis Catalans
Societat Catalana d’Història de la Ciència i de la Tècnica
Carrer del Carme 47 – 08001 Barcelona
Tel.  +34 93 324 85 81
Fax: +34 93 270 11 89

Previous schools

2001, May 17-19. Museums
2003, April 3-5. Journalism
2005, April 14-16. Cinema
2007, May 17-19. Advertising and Propaganda

Former lecturers

Benet, Vicente (Universitat Jaume I, Castelló)
Bennett, Jim (University of Oxford, England)
Brenni, Paolo (Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze, Italy)
Cantor, Geoffrey (University of Leeds, England)
Jurdant, Baudouin (Université de Paris VII, France)
Martinet, Alexis (Institut de Cinématographie Scientifique, Meudon, France)
Olmi, Giuseppe (Università di Bologna, Italy)
Pickstone, John (University of Manchester, England)
Rasmussen, Anne (Université de Strasbourg, France)
Tansey, Tilli (Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, London)
Walker, Mark (Union College, Schenectady NY)
Weinants, Thomas (Visual Media, Belgium)
Weingart, Peter (Bielefeld Universität, Germany)


About 40 students attended every meeting, mainly from Spain and Latin America, but also from Portugal, Italy, England, Austria, and other European countries. At least one third of them attended the School on two occasions.