The Sarton Centre for History of Science is an interdisciplinary research centre, founded in 2003, exploring the history of knowledge acquisition, circulation and foundation. It is made up of researchers across many different departments and faculties at Ghent University. The research projects of its members span several centuries, regions and cultures, as well as disciplines and fields – ranging from medieval natural philosophy to technology transfer and medicine in the 20th century, and from China to the Low Countries and Congo. The Centre’s aim is to promote interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers by offering a platform for (1) the exchange of information; (2) the organization of lectures, master-classes and conferences; and (3) the development of joint projects and international collaborations.
The Centre was founded by Fernand Hallyn (1945–2009), and is named after George Sarton (1884–1956). For both of these researchers, history of science was a privileged place where the humanities and the sciences could and maybe even should meet. Hallyn pioneered an approach in which models from literary theory were applied to scientific texts, and Sarton was an indefatigable proponent of what he called a “new humanism” that would find its roots in research in the history of science. While not necessarily tied to their specific approaches, we still share the inspiration that history of science offers a unique perspective from which to think about the sciences and their place in our world and society.