Humanities for STEM: Using Archives to Bridge the Two Culture Divide (proposals due Sept. 15, 2017 for symposium in New York City, April 2018)

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Humanities for STEM Research Collaborative

Call for PapersHumanities for STEMUsing Archives to Bridge the Two Culture DivideHumanities for STEM Research Collaborative Symposium | New York University | April 6-7, 2018 

CFP Deadline: Friday, September 15, 2017

Humanities for STEM is a research collaborative at New York University that focuses on how the study of primary sources, archival research, and associated methodologies of the humanities can be used to enhance the understanding of science (including medicine), technology, engineering, and mathematics. We are convening a symposium in April 2018 and seek papers from faculty, librarians, archivists, and others along this theme.

It has been our experience that students gain a great deal of insight from their engagement with archival material. Under the auspices of NYU’s Center for the Humanities, this research collaborative explores the ways in which archives and special collections can support scholarship and education in the sciences, discusses the ways in which scholars in the sciences and humanities use archival collections, and exposes scholars to STEM-related archives. One outcome, albeit not specific to STEM, is a healthy skepticism about the process of history. Our students who read history books now understand the kind of research that underpins historical analysis and the limitations of source material, helping them to see how histories are arguments about the available facts instead of passive, objective recountings of the past.

With respect to STEM, we have found students have made interesting analyses using local material. Projects in the history of science and technology are sometimes presented as metahistories even though the larger field of history has called this practice into question for many years. The postmodern attention to local histories seen in other subdisciplines has been successful in challenging what Science and Technology Studies practitioners call whig histories, and our students have found productive dissonances when they study independent researchers in the age of big science, when research is thought to be dominated by large government contracts.

For the symposium, we seek papers that explore archival outreach and access, integration of archival research into STEM education, the role of STEM collections in scholarly research, and new approaches to bridging gaps between the sciences and humanities through the use of archives. The symposium is open to faculty and graduate students who are working on case studies, historiographies, pedagogical proposals, and other approaches relevant to the research. Although any approach delving into the theme of STEM and archival research is welcomed, we are especially interested in papers that address the following three broad themes:

1. STEM General Education

  • Can pedagogies foreground the use of archival material in the classroom, especially with regard to STEM education?

  • Can historical/archival materials be a part of educating engineers and scientists in the content of STEM, outside of the history classroom?

  • How can digital methods and resources be used to engage engineers, undergraduate students, and/or the public on central issues of history and technology?

Topics of consideration might include: Best Teaching Practices; Collaborative Efforts; Partnerships between Archivists and Teaching Faculty; Assessment of Archival Activities; Teaching First-Year Students; Limited Archive Access; Creative Archive Use; Relationship between Archival Activities and Classroom Goals; Disciplinary Differences (Writing, History of Technology, Science, etc.); Best Archival Research Practices; Internet Archive in the Classroom; Defining Primary Sources; Teaching Writing Using STEM Archives.


2. Innovation in STEM

  • What insights can archival sources offer to future practitioners seeking to develop and disseminate new technologies or scientific ideas?

  • How are documents of invention shaped by the needs of archives, such as the necessity of record keeping for resolving intellectual property disputes or documenting sponsored research? Does this dynamic taint the historical claims that can be made?

  • How should historians incorporate the insights into personalities gained when studying primary sources about technology? What place do personal stories have in the history of innovation?

Topics of consideration might include: Historicizing Innovation; Documenting Innovation and Inventions; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Archiving STEM Student Writing; Digital Methods and Resources Used to Engage STEM Students; Personal Stories of Historical Innovation; Using Personality Insights from STEM Primary Sources; Corrective and Supportive Insights from Archival Sources.


3. Ethics in STEM Archives

  • To what extent have the existence of archives for some key figures guided science and technology studies as a whole? How might the lack of primary sources affect the histories we tell?

  • What should historians do to resolve these archival silences? What are the creative ways to recover from the lack of diversity in archives?

  • What is our role in Web archiving and recovering documents that might be vulnerable? What can we do in regards to private archival collections?

Topics of consideration might include: Partnerships between Public Policy, Organizations, and Archives; Activist Archives; Guerilla Archiving; Archival Silences; Interventions into Archive Sciences; Lack of Diversity in STEM and STEM Archives; Private Archives; Corporate Archives; Privacy in Medical Archives; International STEM Archive Access; Disaster Preparation and Recovery; Archive Sustainability; Collection Development; Collection Rejections; Web Archiving; Climate Data; Imperiled Data.



The New York University Humanities for STEM Research Collaborative invites academics, scientists, engineers, humanists, archivists, and graduate students to submit conference paper proposals along these themes and other related topics. Paper proposal submissions (no more than 350 words) should be submitted by Friday, September 15, 2017 to our Google form ( Draft papers will be due January 2018. The conference will be held April 6-7, 2018 at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in Brooklyn, NY. Please address any questions in advance of submission to