David Baneke


Historian of modern science in its cultural and social setting, with a particular interest in astronomy. One of my leading research question is: what do we expect from science?

I work at the Freudenthal Institute of Utrecht University, where I am the coordinator of the master's programme History and Philosophy of Science .

My book De ontdekkers van de hemel, about the history of the Dutch astronomical community in the twentieth century, appeared in March 2015..

In 2008 I published Synthetisch Denken, an analysis of intellectual debates about the role of sciences, scientists and engineers in modern society.

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In 2009 I was awarded the Gold Medal of Teylers Foundation in Haarlem for my work .

Click here to view a unique photo album from 1908: the Album Amicorum of H.G. van de Sande Bakhuyen, containing photos of the nearly all astronomers and observatories of that period.

I am also secretary of Gewina, the Dutch-Belgain Society for the History of Science and Universities.

Previously, I have worked at the universities of Groningen, Utrecht and Leiden and the Free University of Amsterdam (all in the Netherlands), and the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

My book Synthetisch denken: Natuurwetenschappers over hun rol in een moderne maatschappij 1900-1940 [Synthetic Thought: Scientists on their role in modern society 1900-1940] was nominated by national newspaper Trouw as 'one of the best books of 2008'. The eminent Teyler's Foundation of Haarlem has awarded me its 2009 gold medal for it.

My previous research topics included:

- astronomy in the Netherlands in the 19th and 20th centuries;
- the role of science in society and culture, from fin-de-siècle to the Interwar years;
- the role of scientists as 'experts' in public debates;
- the role of universities and science education in modern society and culture.

I have also published book reviews and essays.


I play the double bass. I have played in many (amateur) orchestras and ensembles, including the Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands, and the Dutch Student Orchestra (NSO 1998, 2002, 2003). Between 2001 and 2006, I played in the inimitable Ricciotti Ensemble, the world's only street symphony orchestra. I currently play in Pulcinella Chamber Orchestra.


d.m.baneke#uu.nl / david_baneke#hotmail.com (private)

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Synthetisch Denken