Go back to article: Networks of knowledge and power: working collaboratively on the HoNESt project

What is the project?

HoNESt is an interdisciplinary project funded by Euratom (the European Atomic Energy Community) and the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. This three-year project, beginning in September 2015 and ending in September 2018, was a response to a call from the European Commission for research projects which would further the understanding of the relationship between nuclear energy and society. As such HoNESt examines how nuclear energy and society have interacted across Europe and the United States from 1945 to the present day and seeks to inform discussion and debate about the role of nuclear energy, and society’s ability to shape it, now and in the future. Around these research aims, the project has been structured to facilitate comparative, transnational and interdisciplinary working.

Figure 1

Illustration of global land mass with specific countries highlighted

Map detailing countries participating in HoNESt

HoNESt is a consortium of 23 institutions (largely universities and national museums), with groups of historians and social scientists working together. Scholars from various institutions across Europe, including museums, were invited to participate in the project based on their experience as historical researchers. HoNESt was a natural fit for the Science Museum’s expertise in researching the public’s engagement with science, as part of the growing number of researchers in the Museum’s Research and Public History department. Project management is provided by staff at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, but because there are so many people working on the project, researchers are divided into groups, called ‘Work Packages’, which in turn have their own leaders across Europe. Each Work Package has a number of reports to write according to a prearranged schedule. For example, my work at the Science Museum, and most of the historical research in HoNESt, has taken place in a research group of historians (Work Package 2), which is responsible for creating a Short Country Report examining the history of nuclear energy in each country.

Keeping all of these normally independent historians on track to write easily comparable Reports has required a highly defined structure and careful management. The Reports have been through three completely different structures, and have been re-drafted many times. Although some of these changes were arrived at in our large group of historians, a lot of the more interesting questions and challenges came from Work Package 3, which is made up of historians and social scientists, and meets regularly via Skype, and in person whenever possible. It is in the meetings for Work Package 3 that the first differences between our ‘habits of mind’ became clear.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/180907/002