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Charting the Course of Knowledge with Alexander von Humboldt


Nov 13, 2019
06:00 PM until 07:30 PM


For his 250th birthday, join worldwide celebrations of the great Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. While he is less known today, in the 19th century, his expeditions--across North and South America, within Europe, and to the Ural Mountains of Asia--enthralled kings, scientists, and the public. In pursuit of knowledge, Humboldt scaled mountains, navigated rivers, and even experimented with electric eels. These explorations were often supported by European governments seeking data on their territories in the 18th and 19th centuries.

However, Humboldt was equally passionate about sharing scientific knowledge. Thousands of people attended his series of free public lectures explaining scientific concepts and the development of scientific thinking. At his death, he was writing the fifth volume of his massive Kosmos series of books. This talk will give an overview of Humboldt, his American expedition, and his larger scientific mission, then focus on his work to make science accessible to the larger public, beyond scholarly circles and beyond the borders of nations.

Copresented with the German Society of Pennsylvania and Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine.

Sandra Rebok, Ph.D. is a historian focusing on the globalization of scientific knowledge. She spent many years at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid and was a Marie Curie Fellow from 2013-2016. Her over 20 years of Humboldt scholarship include numerous articles and several books, including the in-progress Expanding the Frontiers of American Science: Alexander von Humboldt’s Networks of Knowledge.


Free, $5 suggested donation


View map Wagner Free Institute of Science
1700 W. Montgomery Avenue
Philadelphia, PA

Additional Information


Wagner Free Institute of Science


2157636529 x24

Contact name

Coryn Wolk

Contact email



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