THE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY OF SCIENCE ( ISTANBUL UNIVERSITY FACULTY OF ARTS) AND ITS ACTIVITIES FROM 1984 TO 1994
The Department of History of Science at Istanbul University Faculty of Arts was originally established as a chair within the Department of Philosophy by Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu in 1984. It acquired departmental status in 1989, thereby becoming the first Department of History of Science in Turkey.
The idea and first attempts to establish a chair at Istanbul University that would initiate the teaching of history of science and researches in this field go back to 1980. Upon his coming to Istanbul to establish the "Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), E. İhsanoğlu had the opportunity to meet the scholars working on the history of medicine, pharmacy and technology and with the presidents of different universities. He submitted his idea of establishing a history of science chair to the President of the Istanbul University and his proposal was accepted. The chair for the history of science was officially established when E. İhsanoğlu was appointed as professor in 1984. The chair started to give the history of science courses to undergraduate students of philosophy begining from the academic year 1985-86. These were: Introduction to History of Science (E. İhsanoğlu, F. Günergun), History of Science (E. İhsanoğlu, F. Günergun) History of Turkish-Islamic Science (E. İhsanoğlu), History of Ottoman Science (E. İhsanoğlu). These courses were opened successively, one in each academic year. Two new courses were opened in the academic years 1990-91 and 1991-92. These were: Industrial Revolution (Emre Dölen) in 1990-91 -mâ Science in the 19th and 20th Centuries (E. Dölen) in 1991-92.
In the academic year 1991-92, upon the decision of the Philosophy Department, history of science courses ceased to be given as compulsory courses to philosophy students. After this academic year, they became electives for all students in the Faculty.
The Department started the first independent "Undergraduate Programme in History of Science" from the academic year 1992-93 onwards. The curriculum of this programme included, besides the courses on history of science, courses on sciences (mathematics, physics, astronomy), logic, sociology and history of philosophy. In 1988, a doctorate programme was started to train students from different backgrounds. The graduate programme started in 1989. Within this programme, which is still running under the supervision of E. İhsanoğlu, three students have already completed their studies and received their MA degrees. At the end of the academic year 1993-94 there were three doctorate and eight masters students in this programme. The first MA thesis was completed on 18 August 1993 by İ. Fazlıoğlu. This was, at the same time, the first thesis prepared on history of science at Istanbul University.
The Department of History of Science offers the following courses to graduate students: Seminar on the History of Science (E. İhsanoğlu), Sources on the Ottoman History of Science (R. Şeşen), Industrial Revolution: Relationship Between Science and Technology ( E. Dölen ), History of Turkish-Islamic Science (E. İhsanoğlu), History of Ottoman Science (E. İhsanoğlu), Sociology of Science (Baykan Sezer). In addition to these courses, the graduate students attend extra courses from other departments and faculties related to their research areas.
By 1994, the Department of History of Science continued its activities with one professor (Dr. E. İhsanoğlu, Director of the Department), one associate professor (Dr. F. Giinergun, associate director), five research assistants (M. Kaçar, İ. Fazlıoğlu, A. Dölek, S. Karamustafa and G. Şahinbaş), and two lecturers (S. İshakoğlu, A. Albayrak).
The Department started organizing symposia from 1987 onwards.The first symposium (1st National Symposium on Turkish History of Science) held on 3-5 April 1987 was on the Ottoman scientific and professional societies. The second one, held on 2-4 September 1987 was the International Symposium on Modern Science & the Muslim World. Its main theme was the transfer of science and technology from the West to the Muslim world starting from the Renaissance until the beginning of the 20th century. Both symposia were organized in collaboration with the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) and their proceedings have been published.
From 1989 onwards, the Department staff undertook the organisation of other symposia jointly held with the Turkish Society for History of Science (TBTK), IRCICA and other national and international institutions. These were the Ilnd Symposium on the History of Turkish Science: Modern Communication and Transportation Techniques in the Ottoman State, 3-5 April 1989; Scientific Institutions in Islamic Civilization, 22-24 April 1991; Science and Technology in the Turkish and Islamic World, 3-5 June 1994; Science and Technology Transfer from Europe to Asia (1880-1950), 28-30 October 1994.
Before concluding, we have to mention here two institutions: the Turkish Society for History of Science (TBTK) and the History of Science Museum and Documentation Center (BIMDOK) to the activities of which the members of the Department have contributed since their foundation.
TBTK was founded in Istanbul in 1989 with the aim of carrying out research in history of science, especially Turkish history of science and related areas, to promote, diffuse and publish the researches conducted in this field, to increase the interest of scholars in history of science in Turkey, to draw their attention to various aspects of Turkish history of science, and to protect this heritage. Its founding president is E. İhsanoğlu. Amongst its founders are the historians of science from history of science departments of the universities in Istanbul and Ankara, as well as distinguished physicists, chemists, astronomers, physicians and pharmacologists. Since its foundation, a number of activities (symposia, conferences, publication of the TBTK Newsletter) have been conducted by TBTK, which represent Turkey in the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science (IUHPS). In the conferences jointly held by IRCICA and TBTK, the themes discussed were the Ottoman science and technology in its various aspects.
BIMDOK was established by E. İhsanoğlu within the Istanbul University in 1993. Some of the faculty deans and scholars of Istanbul University and the staff of the History of Science Department are members of this center. The center has been established for collecting the data and material on Turkish history of science and to pass this heritage to the coming generations. Plans for the establishment of an archive on the history of the Istanbul University within this center are under way.