Earth Science, Global Science. Node Workshop at York University Sept. 30-Oct. 2

Network Node: 
Thu., Sep. 30, 2010 (All day) - Sat., Oct. 2, 2010 (All day)

All sciences are faced with some version of the problem of moving from the local observation to the general explanation. Yet from their foundations, the earth sciences have been uniquely preoccupied with simultaneous, divergent scales of phenomena and systems of knowledge. On the one hand, the models, theories and practices of the earth science have been considered as global projects, which pass deliberately and explicitly beyond the boundaries of territories, statesand even disciplines. On the other hand, the earth sciences take shape within particular conceptions of place, interests and sovereignty -- not least because they are involved with the practical and epistemological control of the earth’s resources, and so are intimately connected with the nation state and its institutions. Studies of the earth sciences have mapped these local contexts and interests with notable success, but often frame the global perspectives of the earth sciences as mere convention, simply part of the rhetoric of scientific universalism. Prompted by questions about globalism, modernity,and disciplines, this workshop proposes to focus on the global scale of earth sciences. How and why did explicitly global accounts of the earth emerge and how did they serve the needs of their authors? What conceptions of scale and place, movement or fixity underpin the disciplinary boundaries of modern earth sciences (geology, oceanography, meteorology, seismology), and what is their significance? What are or have been the points of tension between the local and the global in the earth sciences? How do practitioners move from national survey to global inventory? How has our understanding of the global changed overtime? Is there one earth science or many? What are the implications of this globaltradition as leverage in the application of the earth sciences to national and international problem-solving in the present day?


Invited participants will pre-circulate papers and meet for presentations and discussion at York University. Those interested in attending the workshop please contact Professor Katharine Anderson ( or Professor Ernst Hamm ( for registration information.