About the conference

April 24-25, 2015

York University
Toronto, Canada

Richard Jarrell’s wide historical interests circled consistently around defining characteristics of modern science and technology — institutions and education, disciplines and professionalization, technical communities and political power. Across a wide array of topics, regions and periods, he returned again and again to their crucial place in the social and cultural development of Canada. But his writing also hinted towards powerful undercurrents and related tensions that remained largely unexplored when he passed away suddenly in late 2013. Taken as a whole, his work points us to a broader and even more complicated history exploring the relationship of Canadian science and technology to the institutions, experiences, and aspirations of the “modern” in Canada: the enduring hopes for transformation and independence, the risks and threats to tradition and history, and the recurring anxieties of arriving too late in the scientific and technological worlds of one’s contemporaries.

This conference, like the edited volume to follow, engages these complex historical interconnections between science, technology and the modern in Canada. Celebrating and extending Jarrell’s own interests and contributions, it draws on new insights and approaches from the broader histories of science and technology, architecture and the environment. It carries those insights and questions into new sites and topics: weapons systems, infrastructure, cities, oceans, aviation, northern exploration, atmospheric surveillance, genetic engineering, health and nutrition. And it uses that research to better understand the complex contemporary role of science and technology in the ongoing attempts to make sense of ourselves, our history, and our place in the world.

The conference will commence with the keynote lecture Is the ‘conflict between science and religion’ a myth?: A methodological critique of a rising field of research by Yves Gingras, the Canada Research Chair in the History and Sociology of Science at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). 

The conference is free and open to the public.