It is with great pleasure and some trepidation that I take over the editorship of the British Journal for the History of Science. BJHS is an essential part of the historian's toolkit, not least because it has always published material that reaches beyond the immediate community of historians of science, making significant and rigorous contributions to the humanities in general. Unlike many other history-of-science journals, over the years it has successfully straddled historical, anthropological, sociological, literary, geographical and philosophical inquiry, demonstrating the fundamental importance of our discipline to the wider academy. I am honoured to follow in the footsteps of Charlotte Sleigh, Jon Agar, Simon Schaffer, Crosbie Smith and Janet Browne – to name only the editors active during my professional career.
In particular, I want to pay tribute to my immediate predecessor, who has introduced some important innovations on which I hope to build. Sleigh encouraged colleagues to submit papers which provided ‘New Perspectives’ on key publications, encouraging re-evaluations of canonical texts, as well as attention to unjustly neglected interventions. She asked for ‘Retrospectives’ from colleagues who were prepared to look back on what they and the discipline have achieved, and called for ‘Science in Translation’ pieces that could bring to prominence important non-Western contributions to the history of science. I fully support her efforts in this direction, and wholeheartedly endorse her belief that we should seek out opportunities to decolonize our discipline, not least as a means of demonstrating the global nature of the history of science. In future, these initiatives will be combined into a ‘Forum’ area within the journal, which will also include a new section on ‘Dialogues’.
This last section reflects my own belief that the history of science should not only speak to the arts, humanities and social sciences, but also directly and explicitly to the natural sciences, to industry and to commerce. To that end, the BJHS will support and publish edited discussions between practising (not retired) scientists, or representatives of industry/commerce, and historians whose field of research touches on areas of direct relevance to their interests. I believe that such strategies of engagement with potential scientific and industrial partners are essential if we are to cement history of science's place in the global future, and to bolster the journal's capacity to support and publish outstanding, internationally significant, intellectual scholarship during what looks to be a coming period of economic and ideological austerity for the humanities. I invite colleagues to contact me with suggestions for potential interviewees, as well as with ideas for the other journal initiatives, and I look forward both to hearing from you and to working with the editors of Viewpoint and BJHS: Themes to maintain supportive synergies between the BSHS's publications.