The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.

Science, Progress and History

International Essay Competition

The Science, Progress and History International Essay Competition invites essay submissions on any subject relevant to the main themes of the project. There will be prizes of $5,000 (for first place), $2,000 (for second place), $1,000 (for third place) awarded in Australian dollars. Students and recent graduates from any university or college are welcome to apply. The deadline for essay submission is 11 April 2014. 

Specific instructions about eligibility and other details about essay submissions can be found here.

While essay submissions are welcome on any of the project’s main themes, applicants may want to consider choosing their essay topics from one of the broad questions listed below:

  • How have conceptions of historical purpose or directionality influenced the emerging historical sciences (geology, evolutionary biology, cosmology)? These might include religious ideas (providential and eschatological), philosophical ideas (Hegelianism) sociological conceptions (Comte, Marx), or economics (Hayek). 
  • In what sense was natural history a historical discipline, and what significance can be attached to its eclipse by biology?
  • Are there patterns, or evidence of directionality in evolutionary history? 
  • Do the biological sciences, and evolutionary biology in particular, have ‘laws’ or allow for predictability in any strict sense? 
  • What relationship, if any, is there been contingent or random processes, and the appearance of order, regularity, or directionality?

General and Bridging Issues
  • If historical conceptions of directionality and order in history did in fact influence the development of the historical sciences, can the vestiges of these influences still be discerned? 
  • Does the popularization or communication of the sciences to a general public require that they be given some kind of narrative structure – e.g. ‘big history’,  ‘the epic of evolution’? Does this structure distort these sciences or might it be an essential ingredient?
  • Is ‘counterfactual history’ a useful explanatory tool in both spheres (history and the historical sciences)?
  • Are there similarities between the ways in which contingency and order are understood in these two spheres?
  • Has teleological explanation found its way back into biology and history?