The Hephaestus Project

Hephaestus project context and objectives

The team submitted the project proposal "Hephaestus" (Hellenic Philosophy, History and Environmental Science Teaching Under Scrutiny) which was granted funding from FP7 (Capacities, Regpot-2008-1) for a three year period (1/4/09-31/3/12).

This project is motivated by the desire to expand the activities of the HPDST team in the areas of History, Philosophy and Didactics of Science and Technology according to the SWOT analysis on team achievements, to establish strong connections with the international community and to constitute HPDST a team of excellence at an international level.

Given these foci, the project Hephaestus aims to enhance the research capacity of the team by utilizing opportunities, presented at a European level, to improve its potential, to initiate collaborations with European research and university centres of excellence (to help developing a research network which in turn will facilitate both cross-fertilization and recognition of the team’s work), to intensify its efforts to communicate the results of its research activities to specialists and the general public alike, and to succeed in establishing close collaborations with the local socio-political authorities.

Work performed and main results

Research networks
HPDST has hosted for medium term research and collaboration visiting scholars from six European sister institutions: Département de Philosophie, Université de Nantes; Centre d’Archives, Philosophie et Édition des Sciences (CNRS-ENS); Centre d’Histoire des Sciences et des Techniques (Université de Liège), Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (Paris), Laboratoire Territoires, Techniques et Sociétés (CNRS-ENPC) and Needham Research Institute (Cambridge). Four HPDST researchers have paid medium and long term research visits in European centres.
Seven international collaborative projects have been initiated from these visits:

  • A European textbook on history of science.
  • A European network "Europe and science, a mutual engenderment".
  • A research project on Byzantine Alchemy.
  • A research project on S&T modernization of the South-eastern Europe.
  • The expanding of the exhibition on the Antikythera Mechanism.
  • A project on the preservation of contemporary scientific heritage.
  • A research project on the history of informatics.

Recruitement
Two senior researchers with international experience have been recruited for a 28 months period.

Conferences, Workshops, Seminars
HPDST has organized the international conference "History of Science in Practice". It inaugurated the first of a series of conferences with that theme, organized by a network constituted during the 1st conference.
Two summer research seminars have been organized. The second lead to the creation of a network on the history and didactics of environmental sciences.
A workshop on the Antikythera Mechanism has been organized. It achieved the expansion of the research team to specialists of Ancient Greek metallurgy and to comparative studies of the Mechanism to analogous technologies of other civilizations, and interacted with the related exhibition.

Portal, exhibitions, publications
HPDST web portal serving both the team members and the wider scientific community has been constructed.
An exhibition on the Antikythera Mechanism has been presented in Athens, with large impact on the media. Local authorities have financed the venue in Crete and Kythera, and its venue to Spain, France, Belgium, UK and China is being organised.
The new international journal Almagest has been launched (1st issue, May 2009). It attracted the interest of the international editor Brepols, who has accepted to edit it.
Two issues of the Newsletter for the history of science in Southeastern Europe have been published by the network.
Two issues of the Greek journal Kritiki (Critical Science and Education) have been published, self-financed.

Equipment upgrade
New equipment, for exhibition and research purposes has been acquired.

Expected final results and their potential impact and use

Activation of human potential: Research seminars, workshops, conferences and scholars recruited from Europe and USA upgrade team’s potential. Senior scholars’ initiatives to upgrade the team to an international team of excellence (new research fields and international research projects), are opening opportunities for young researchers to be recruited.

Training young researchers: Young researchers are visiting European Centres of Excellence and are being trained in state-of-the-art methodologies which open new opportunities.

Improvement of research management: The team has acquired significant experience in managing and implementing large scale projects of European scope.

Acquisition of research and dissemination equipment: The team has acquired the means to organise public exhibitions and to optimize its research capacity.

Up-scaling research quality: The team’s peer reviewed scientific production has increased significantly, with articles and presentations appearing in international journals and conferences.

Twinning of research activities and strategic partnerships: The team has initiated activities jointly with research centres in France, Belgium, UK and soon with Germany, such as joint research projects, conferences and research seminars. Permanent channels of communication have been established and many world class researchers from Centres of Excellence are coming as Visiting Researchers.

Dissemination of scientific information and results: Actions towards the dissemination of results in the scientific community and the general public have been undertaken. An exhibition has been created on a theme attracting international media’s attention (Antikythera Mechanism), national and international symposia, conferences and science in society actions (seminars and lectures open to the public) have been organized, and a peer reviewed, world class scientific journal has been launched..

Socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications: Research is being organized around the use of history of science in science education and in teachers’ training. The public and stakeholders have been brought in contact with the team’s research and findings. Projects on environmental science education and seminars of in and pre service teachers are being organized, in accordance with the new methodologies that the project’s actions have brought. Exhibitions of wide interest have attracted public in Greece periphery regions.