Extended deadline (14 January 2022): Symposium Proposal ESHS 2022, Brussels, 7-9 September The Centennial of the first Solvay Chemistry Council and beyond.

Alessio Rocci Discussion

Science policy involves local and individual strategies that promote selected scientific initiatives or technical research plans. One such example was Ernest Solvay, a patron of sciences who was passionate about both fundamental science and social progress. Solvay believed that well-governed Science would and could only serve Progress, the ultimate goal of which was to elucidate all the laws of nature, including the laws governing living organisms and human societies, to use these laws to govern the whole of society for the good of all. Among many acts of scientific philanthropy, Solvay was eager to help advance scientific knowledge through the founding of the famous Conferences and the International Institutes that bear his name. The impact of the Solvay conferences on Physics, initiated in 1911, is well known, in contrast with the chemistry conferences where much still needs to be investigated. 2022 marks the centennial of the first Chemistry Council (held in Brussels on 21-27 April 1922), which gathered physicists and chemists to debate questions at the boundaries of the two disciplines like e.g. isotopes, valency, electronic theory of matter and X-rays diffraction. Indeed, one of the aims of this first Conference was to improve the cross-fertilization between the two disciplines. Since then a diversity of topics has been addressed such as mineral and organic processes (from oxidation to combustion), molecules of life (vitamins, proteins, hormones, nucleoproteins, …), thermodynamics or surface science. In the meantime, the structure and the format of the conferences have kept to the tradition that started at the beginning of the century. This session will be the opportunity to explore the history of Solvay Chemistry Conferences and to investigate the history of Chemistry through the lens of the Conferences themselves. The Symposium will be focused on both the organizational aspects that led the Chemistry Conferences to occupy a specific niche in the wider landscape of scientific communication and conferencing and the scientific debates on the topics that were selected. We aim also to understand the impact on the disciplines, on research agendas, on the evolution of a specific concept or a research area.

We welcome papers addressing the role of Solvay Chemistry Conferences in a broad sense. A non-exhaustive list will comprehend contributions on one or more conferences, on their making-of process, on a controversy, on the analysis of particular concepts in Chemistry and the role of the Conferences in shaping their understanding, on the cross-fertilization process between Chemistry and the other disciplines, on the social impact of the Conferences.

A complete list of the arguments discussed at the various Conferences and some downloadable proceedings can be found on the website of the Solvay Insitutehttp://www.solvayinstitutes.be/html/solvayconf_chemistry.html

For more information on the Solvay Science Project please visit our website:


Proposals (an abstract of max 250 words + a short bio) should be sent to panel organizer (Alessio.Rocci@vub.be) by Friday, January 14, 2022. For any questions don’t hesitate to write to the organizer and for more information about the conference please visit https://eshsbrussels2022.com/calls/.