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An Autonomous Institution, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India
Seminars and Colloquia

Humanities and Social Sciences

The Indian Scientific Tradition in World History: Reflections on Integrating History of Science into Science Education 
Mon, Jan 28, 2019,   03:00 PM at Seminar Room 24 (Main Building)

Dr. Meera Nanda


Part of what makes the IISER family of institutions so remarkable is their embrace of a liberal ideal of science education as not just an education in science, but also an education about science.  Students of science should not only know the technical content of their chosen specialty, but also develop some familiarity with the intellectual tradition that they are becoming a part of. They must get to know how the methods they use and the laws they take for granted have evolved over time and across civilizations. They must, in other words, develop some appreciation of the interplay of religious and philosophical commitments and socio-political ideologies that led to the birth of modern science. In this talk, I will first present a brief overview of four academic traditions of history of sciences in India, namely, Orientalists, nationalist, Marxist and Postcolonial. After pointing out the strengths and weakness of these traditions, I will describe my own approach to how I understand – and teach – history of science. 

Drawing upon my eight years of experience in teaching a core course in history of science in IISER-Mohali, I will describe my attempts to tell the story of science that places the history of Indian scientific traditions in a global, inter-civilizational context.  As a one-time biologist, I remain committed to a historiography of science that respects science’s core values of objectivity and universality.  


About the speaker:

Meera Nanda started out as a microbiologist (Ph.D., Biotechnology,  IIT-Delhi) who later turned to history and philosophy of science (Ph.D., Science Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA). She was a visiting faculty at IISER-Mohali (2009-2017) where she taught a core course in the History of Science.  She is a recipient of a number of prestigious academic fellowships and has authored several books on the place of science in society.