Johan Schot receives Leonardo da Vinci Medal

4 November 2015

Johan Schot receives Leonardo da Vinci Medal for contribution to the history of technology

Johan Schot, one of the founders of the Tensions of Europe network and one of the editors of the book series Making Europe: Technology and Transformations, 1850-2000, has been awarded the Leonardo da Vinci Medal by the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) for his outstanding contribution to the history of technology. The Leonardo da Vinci Medal is the highest recognition from SHOT.

At Shot’s annual meeting in Albuquerque (USA) Johan Schot gave his address The Historical Imagination.

In his address Schot made a plea to historians of technology to use the historical imagination to engage with the huge challenges our world is facing. He stressed that the current financial and economic crisis should not be our main concern, but what is coming next: a series of connected crises: an energy crisis, an infrastructure crisis, a food crisis, a climate crisis, a migration crisis, a health crisis, and perhaps global conflict and war too. Technology is a crucial site in producing and solving these crises. Historians of technology should challenge the view that there are no real alternatives. Historians of technology could have a significant impact in the collective search for alternatives. “Using the historical imagination, we can help the world to understand the current situation, we can challenge the way they think about the past, and the way they think about path-dependencies, and alternative scenarios, and by doing this open up a new understanding of the present and the future. We can only do this when we are prepared to engage with the current worlds and its problems and come out of our comfort zone. I believe we might need to re-invent how we do history of technology.”

Johan Schot also made a plea for new collective research projects in which individuals can thrive but also together form a community working together on a shared set of issues and concerns.

The full text of the Johan Schot’s address can be found here.