The worldwide discourse on the inclusion of history and philosophy in science teaching is represented and organized by the “International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group” (IHPST) which publishes an own cross-referred journal “Science and Education” and organises biennial international meetings. In the first instance, the IHPST offers a network for academic discourse and exchange on a worldwide level. On the other hand, a European structure and organisation to bundle different efforts is still a desideratum. There is a lot of expertise which is in urgent need of an infrastructure of sustainable networking. Academic scholars expand resources for science education as some science teachers do, museums develop historical exhibitions in order to foster public understanding of science and curriculum developers work on integrating aspects of the history and philosophy of science in curricular documents. But, the main problem is the low level of cooperation on national and more than that on international level.
The reasons are twofold. On the one hand, differences between languages and curricular guidelines make cooperation difficult. On the other hand, people work in a scattered manner, because they belong to different communities of expertise and practice. Developers of exhibitions and science teachers hardly ever exchange their ideas, concepts, knowledge and resources, and even less they do cooperate. This is all the more unfortunate, as science education and science museums pursue similar aims of science education. The domain of scientific literacy (school science education) resembles the domain of public understanding of science (science museums) in many aspects.
We expect the HIPST project to show innovative and long-lasting effects on several levels:
Networking people and institutions on a European level generates structures of interdisciplinary research and cooperation that currently do not exist. The network will promote the integration of history and philosophy of science in the fields of scientific literacy and public understanding of science. Thus, a gap will be filled between the demands of curricular documents and educational practice.
Networking people from different branches of expertise leads to synergy effects. Experts of different branches share their knowledge, skills and experiences in order to adapt and develop teaching materials and teaching techniques in a symbiotic way (action research model).
Adapting and developing resources accessible to the public (websites, publications in different languages) will act as an assistance system for science educators all over Europe. A comparable project merely exists on American servers, but is still under construction. Our resources will be adapted to the European needs and accommodations and will consider the multinational and multilingual conditions.
As a further consequence, the exchange of resources will disseminate knowledge about the scientific traditions and cultures all over the European nations. Students become aware of the different national contributions to science. Therefore, a transnational dialogue within Europe will be encouraged. HIPST counteracts the image of science as solely resting on the research results of a few great scientists from Central Europe.
Effective use of existing resources in transnational cooperation.
Shared knowledge base of strategies to develop and implement domain-relevant materials into educational practice. Strengthening connections of the European research and development activities by international discourse.