Decolonising ScienceHumanities

The ScienceHumanities Summer School is currently underway in sunny Cardiff!

Participants were challenged by Dr Josie Gill (University of Bristol) to consider the similarities and the differences between decolonisation movements and interdisciplinary working practices, asking in particular what the ScienceHumanities might learn from decolonisation?

In response, the Summer School participants produced a manifesto and a series of recommendations for how ScienceHumanities work might do more to decolonise its content, methods and institutions.

We thought that what the participants produced in response to Josie’s session was too good not to share. The ScienceHumanities initiative in Cardiff will certainly be doing more to follow their suggestions. Many thanks to both Josie and the Summer School participants who have allowed us to reproduce the manifesto below.


A Manifesto for Decolonising ScienceHumanities

Decolonising ScienceHumanities means dismantling existing power structures, rethinking methodologies, and removing barriers to change at every level of the institution. This decolonisation must apply to curriculums and what is deemed to be canonical as well as the makeup of Departments and our own research projects. Such processes must move to encourage Departments to appreciate a more diverse body of research, as well as to ask challenging (but collegiate!) questions of our projects and the projects of others – who do we study and why? Who do we speak to? What institutional and disciplinary structures are in place in our work and how can we address and challenge these structures? We must ensure that institutions acknowledge factors such as race, class, gender, ability and others to ensure inclusivity and intersectionality. Funding for research and hierarchies associated with it must be questioned and rebalanced. We must always acknowledge our privilege and the privileges inherent in our study.



  • Institutionally recognise different forms of scholarship (with a focus on open source research)
  • Query and challenge the current definition of Impact
  • Find new ways of scholarly communication and discussion- e.g. roundtables and workshops over formal paper presentations
  • Encourage wider public engagement with ScienceHumanities (and humanities in general)
  • Reassess academic writing — register, readability, access


Summer School Participants 2019: Caroline Curtis (University of Birmingham), Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal (University of California, Davis), Loredana Filip (Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen), Elisabeth Haefs (University of Duisburg-Essen), Katalina Kopka (University of Bremen), Catherine Lee (Duke University), Christine Müller (University of Bremen), Aureo Lustosa Guerios Neto (University of Padua), Alexandra Morden Osborne (University of Bristol), Isabelle Staniaszek (University of Roehampton), Harriet Thompson (King’s College London), Subhashini Robert William (King’s College London).

Images of Research Award

Our very own ScienceHumanities Research Assistant, Cerys Knighton, has recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Cardiff University Doctoral Academy’s ‘Images of Research’ Exhibition.

Images of Research 3

Cerys’s PhD investigates how mood disorders became a diagnostic category by looking at medical cases and literature from 1830 to 1930. Her pen and ink image engages with an article published in The Lancet in 1841 and aims to portray the mechanical treatment of patients in the early nineteenth century.

cofTo see more of Cerys’s wonderful art, check out her website.

Call for Applications: ScienceHumanities Summer School 2019

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Keynote Speaker: Professor Sally Shuttleworth (University of Oxford)

A free, international, postgraduate summer school

In 2019 Cardiff University’s ScienceHumanities research group will host the second week-long International Summer School dedicated to the examination of the relations between the humanities and the sciences and funded by Wellcome. This year the Summer School will have the theme of “Populations”. The Summer School will have as its keynote speaker Professor Sally Shuttleworth (University of Oxford), and will also feature workshops from leading scholars in literature and science, and the histories of science and medicine, from across the UK and Europe.

The Summer School will not only give participants access to significant researchers in the field, but will also offer professional development opportunities on publishing, public engagement, and archival research. In addition, you will have the opportunity to share ideas, concepts and methods with other doctoral students and begin to build a network of global contacts.

The Summer School is open only to doctoral students located in universities and research centres worldwide. There are only 12 places available. It is free to attend, but participants must be able to pay for their own transport, accommodation and part of their subsistence during their stay in Cardiff. Advice will be given on accommodation and transport and some meals will be included during the Summer School. Two bursaries are available for students from nations with limited resources.

To express initial interest and receive an application form please email Professor Martin Willis on The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 25thJanuary 2019. Applications must be submitted by Friday 1stFebruary 2019 and decisions will be made by 15thFebruary. Participating doctoral students must be able to commit to the full 5 days of the Summer School.


ScienceHumanities Wellcome Grant Success

The ScienceHumanities Initiative at Cardiff University has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Small Grant in Humanities and Social Science to fund an innovative programme of interdisciplinary events over the next three years.

Entitled ‘Building and Interrogating Relationships between the Medical Humanities and Humanities Approaches to the Sciences’, the programme offers a series of regional workshops and international colloquia to place humanities approaches to medicine and health in sustained and productive dialogue with humanities approaches to other sciences and technologies. Our aim is to generate further research that transforms our methodologies and enables us to meet future challenges to our understanding of medicine and health. The funding also facilitates the continuation of the highly successful ScienceHumanities postgraduate Summer School, which brings PhD students from a variety of disciplines and from across the world to Cardiff University for an intensive week of interdisciplinary activity.

Co-directors of the initiative—Professor Martin Willis, Professor Keir Waddington and Dr Jamie Castell—will be leading on the delivery of this programme over the course of the three years with themed events on ‘Populations’ (2018-19), ‘Energies’ (2019-20) and ‘Healthy Futures’ (2020-21). The ScienceHumanities Initiative is based in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy and the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, but involves colleagues from a variety of other disciplines at Cardiff University, as well as a number of international partners (including Duke University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and the University of Bremen).

If you are interested in learning more or in getting involved with the ScienceHumanities Initiative, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by email (,,

ScienceHumanities Summer School 2018 Testimonials

In 2018, Cardiff University’s ScienceHumanities research group hosted a week-long International Summer School dedicated to the examination of the relations between the humanities and the sciences.

The Summer School programme featured workshops from leading scholars in literature and science, the histories of science and medicine, and the philosophy of science from across the UK and Europe.

Here’s what some of the doctoral students who participated in the Summer School had to say about it.

We’ll be making an announcement about our next Summer School very soon.

International Symposium on ‘Transnational Conceptions of Nature and Ecology’

Co-director of the ScienceHumanities initiative, Dr Jamie Castell, is currently organising an international event on ‘Transnational Conceptions of Nature and Ecology’ at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science with Dr Wilko von Hardenberg.

In our current moment, complex environmental challenges have causes and effects that clearly exceed national boundaries. Nevertheless, historical and contemporary conceptions of nature and ecology remain influenced by national and transnational cultures. This one-day symposium aims to investigate the connections and faultlines between different understandings of nature and ecology in national and global contexts. In the morning, we will consider the entangled cultures of geographically proximate European countries, which have shaped many dominant approaches to nature in science and society. In the afternoon session, we will turn our attention to different conceptions of nature and ecology on a more global scale. By offering a survey of different conceptions of nature and ecology, we hope to make productive connections, to highlight the limitations and mediations of current approaches, and to consider together the impact of these approaches on different disciplines and modes of thinking in our own time.

The event will take place in Berlin in December 2018 with invited speakers from around the world.

ScienceHumanities European Tour

In June, the ScienceHumanities team were wonderfully hosted by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin for a Studientag on Literature and the History of Science.

Covering topics from Romanticism to cybernetics, it was fascinating for the team to engage with a range of different research projects from across Germany.


The team went straight on to Paris to deliver a plenary panel on transdisciplinary approaches to working across the humanities and sciences at the 3rd International Conference of the Commission on Science and Literature.

The event was held at the newly merged Paris-Sorbonne and Pierre and Marie Curie Universities, an institutional development which itself opens new avenues for studying the humanities and the sciences in innovative ways.