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25 years of the History of science at the UAB

The Seminar for the History of Science, the embryo for the CEHIC, was officially founded on November 25th, 1983, institutionalizing the discipline at the University
CEHIC 12/11/2008

There is an important date this fall for the Centre for the History of Science at the UAB. On November 25th it will have been 25 years since the discipline was institutionalized at this university, for it was on this day in 1983 that the embryo for the centre, the Seminar for the History of Science, was officially founded. Since 1976, professor of theoretical physics, Manuel García Doncel, had been teaching the History and epistemology of physics course, but it was not until 1983 that a space was explicitly devoted to the history of science at the UAB, thanks to the support of the historians who participated in a conference on the history of modern physics in September of that same year.

The final impulse for the creation of the Seminar was the conference held in San Feliu de Guixols that brought together such renowned historians of physics as Silvio Bergia, Arminn Hermann, Klaus Mainzer, Karl von Meyenn, Arthur I. Miller, John Roche, José Manuel Sánchez Ron, David Speiser, Roger H. Stuewer, and Bruce R. Wheaton. The conference was chaired by another physicist and the Minister of Culture at the time, Javier Solana, while other physicists such as Ramon Pascual and Louis Michel also attended. Conversations during this meeting led to the conviction that a new centre for the history of science should be founded in the Science Faculty. The centre, it was agreed, should not be devoted only to academic research, but also to the conservation of the personal archives of Spanish scientists.

García Doncel had been demanding the creation of a department of history of science from as early as 1980, and the subject had been discussed at different meetings between members of the UAB and the Catalan government, as well as with physics historian Gerald Holton on occasion of his visit in 1982. It was precisely at one of these meetings that it was agreed that the First International Meeting on the History of Scientific Ideas should take place in September 1983.

Once the conference had come to an end, a representative delegation met with the UAB’s authorities, led by vice-rector of research, Josep Trilla. As a result of that meeting, two months later the governing council of the university approved the foundation of a Seminar for the History of Science that would go on to host research and teaching on the discipline and, from 1986, the inter-departmental postgraduate program in history of science that eventually led to the PhD program.