Meeting in Salas, September 15-18, 2017
Fundación y Aula Valdés-Salas. Universidad de Oviedo
|Fred Spier (FS)||The Netherlands||Biochemistry, Cultural Anthropology, Social History|
|Esther Quaedackers (EQ)||The Netherlands||Architecture|
|Maarten Oranje (MO)||The Netherlands||European Studies, Political Science|
|Jacob Wamberg (JW)||Denmark||Art History|
|Jesse Bos (JB)||The Netherlands||History, Political Science|
|Adalberto Codetta Raiteri (AC)||Italy||Mathematics, formation of Teachers|
|Manuel Sintubin (MS)||Belgium||Geology|
|Joris Burmeister (JBu)||The Netherlands||History, Education|
|Joaquim Gaspar (JG)||Portugal||Medieval Cartography|
|Philip Brown (PB)||United Kingdom||Mathematics, Physics|
|Armando Menéndez Viso (AM)||Spain||Philosophy|
|Olga García Moreno (OG)||Spain||Geology|
At the 2014 IBHA conference in San Rafael (CA), and during its immediate aftermath, the idea of a European Big History group was first taken up by some participants. Then, at the initiative of JB, a separate session was dedicated to the subject during the 2016 IBHA conference in Amsterdam. Thanks to the generosity of the Fundación Valdés-Salas, the twelve participants mentioned above, representing seven countries, were invited to Salas (Asturias, Spain) between September 15-17, 2017, to discuss the feasibility of a European network in more detail.
Friday, Sep 15th, morning Opening Discussions
After the official opening by Salvador Ordóñez García, Director of the Area of Research Management, representing the University of Oviedo, all participants gave short presentations about their own involvement in Big History based on their own disciplines, fields of research, and their experiences in their own countries. In various ways all discussed the relevance of BH and the ways in which it could further be promoted.
Considering the European nature of the network, several language issues were discussed. It was decided that English will be the working language for this network. However, members are actively encouraged to translate content into their own languages as well, in case that is judged useful.
Specific attention was paid to the name of the network, because the term BH can be perceived as provocative. However, given the fact that BH is by now an established field, and that all the alternatives can be considered equally problematic, it was decided to keep the term BH, and thus call ourselves the European Big History Network.
Friday, Sep 15th, afternoon Organization
The group decided that the most important objectives for the meeting would be to reach an agreement about what kind of network to be; to identify its goals; and its possible first activities. The main conclusions were:
- We keep the network informal for now, i.e. no formalized structure but instead a low level of organization. Its first aim is to create a platform for communication between members.
- The network shall be European in the sense that meetings will be held in Europe, thus making it easier to meet. Yet the network shall be open to people from non-European countries.
- At this initial stage, the network shall consist of the twelve founders. However, in a near future more participants may be allowed to join by invitation.
- We seek to define some initial activities for 2017-18 that will help to launch the network as well as to get to know each other better, while focusing on keeping the network active in the future.
- We will inform the IBHA about this meeting and the formation of the network, and will consider entering into an affiliation. But we are not aspiring to become a formal part of the IBHA.
Saturday, Sep 16th, morning Field Trip
Guided by several experts from the region (David Azpiazu, history, Miguel Ángel Álvarez García, ecology, and Fernándo Rodríguez del Cueto, archeology), we undertook a Big History field trip around Salas by visiting a few historical and natural enclaves that help us to understand the Big History of this area. Luis V. Sánchez participated in organizing the fieldtrip as member of La Gran Historia UO.
Saturday, Sep 16th, afternoon 2017-2018 Activities
In this session a concrete proposal for a first common activity emerged, when the participants agreed to collaborate on producing an edited book: a collection of Little Big Histories, focusing on the participants’ own areas. The book will hopefully be published by a well-established academic publisher; EQ suggested a few names of publishers who have already expressed interest to publish such books. MS, EQ and AM offered to be the editors of the book. The plans for producing this book, including deadlines, were further discussed.
A new meeting of the EBHN is expected to take place in September 2018, during which the book’s progress will be a major agenda item. The Valdés-Salas Foundation has generously offered the group the possibility to meet again in their headquarters in Salas.
In the more distant future we may organize (annual) meetings in other places, and in doing so use the opportunity to promote BH in different European countries. Most notably Italy, where two BH hubs are beginning to form, one in Coldigioco and the other one near Milan, could be a possible next venue.
Sunday, Sep 17th, morning Mission Statement
The group collaboratively wrote a mission statement, resulting in the “Salas Statement”:
The European Big History Network (EBHN) aims at promoting Big History in Europe by:
- Fostering interdisciplinary research and education from a Big History perspective
- Encouraging open scholarly discussions
- Pursuing joint research, educational and dissemination projects
- Exchanging experiences with respect to Big History
- Making Big History accessible to all members of society
And, in doing so, encourage people to reflect on their own world.
Sunday, Sep 17th, afternoon Website
Organizational themes were discussed related to the use and maintenance of the website http://bighistory.eu/ .
Sunday, Sep 17th, evening Closing
Sala Mágica (Sonia S. Blanco Danza Academy) presented the dance show called Involution “Is the human being able to understand the universe? A piece based on Big History, the search of a great few people to understand and order the universe. Do you think it is possible?” The previous music consultant was Laura Miranda, a member of La Gran Historia UO.
Monday, Sep 18th, morning Lecture
Fred Spier gave a lecture about Spanish cosmographies as possibly providing fertile ground for the development of “la Gran Historia”: La cosmografía española ¿tierra fértil para la gran historia?”. As part of the audience, students from the Salas Secondary School attended the lecture.
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