Lesley Cormack

Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor

Office: ADM 102
Email: ubco.principal@ubc.ca

Research Summary

History of science, history of geography, mathematics, early modern England


Professor Lesley Cormack is Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC.

Professor Cormack joined UBC in July 2020 from the University of Alberta where she served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 2010 to 2020.

Previously, Professor Cormack was Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at Simon Fraser University from 2007 to 2010 and, earlier, taught at the University of Alberta in the Department of History and Classics for 17 years.

An historian of early modern science, Professor Cormack specializes in geography and mathematics of 16th century England. She earned both her PhD and Master of Arts from the University of Toronto where she studied history and philosophy of science and technology.

Past president of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, and National Committee chair for the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science.




PhD, University of Toronto
MA, University of Toronto
BA, Hon, University of Calgary

Research Interests & Projects

History of the Molyneux Globes (first terrestrial and celestial globes manufactured in England, 1592).

Selected Publications & Presentations


Mathematical Practitioners and the Transformation of Natural Knowledge in early modern Europe.  With John Schuster, Steven Walton, eds. Springer Press, 2017.

A History of Science in Society: From Philosophy to Utility. With Andrew Ede. University of Toronto Press, 2004.  3rd edition 2017. (4th ed forthcoming)

Making Contact: Maps, Identity, and Travel, co-edited with Glenn Burger, Jonathan Hart, and Natalia Pylypuik. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2003. xxx, 269 pp.

Charting an Empire: Geography at the English Universities 1580-1620. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. xiii, 281 pp.


“The role of Mathematical Practitioners and Mathematical Practice in developing Mathematics as the Language of Nature”, The Language of Nature: Reassessing the Mathematization of Natural Philosophy, ed. Geoffrey Gorham and Benjamin Hill. University of Minnesota Press, 2016: pp. 205-228

“That before Columbus geographers and other educated people thought that the Earth was flat.” Newton’s Apple and other Myths about Science, edited by Ronald Numbers and Kostas Kampourakis. Harvard University Press, 2015: pp. 16-22. (Translated into Spanish as La Manzana de Newton y Otros Mitos Acerca de al Ciencia (2017)

“Forms of Nation and Forms of Geography: Chorography and its publics in Early Modern England”, in Forms of Association: Making Publics in Early Modern Europe, volume in honour of Richard Helgerson, eds. Paul Yachnin and Marlene Eberhart. University of Massachusetts Press, 2015: pp. 155-175.

“Ptolemy at Work: The role of the Geographia in Geography and Mathematics Teaching in Early Modern England”, Ptolemy’s Geography in the Renaissance, Z. Shalev and C. Burnett, eds. London: Warburg Institute, 2010, pp. 207-224.

“The World at your fingertips: Renaissance Globes as Cosmographical, Mathematical and Pedagogical Instruments”, in Current Issues in Early Modern Cosmography, ed. Sven Dupré. Special issue of Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Sciences 59 (no. 163, 2009): pp. 485-497.

“Glob(al) Visions: Globes and their Publics in early modern Europe”. In Making Publics in Early Modern Europe: People, Things, Forms of Knowledge. Eds. Paul Yachnin and Bronwen Wilson. Routledge University Press, 2009, pp. 138-156.

Papers Presented

“Cosmopolitanism and the Local in Science and Nature: What does a ‘Cosmopolitan History of Science’ look like?”, 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 2017; as full lecture at the University of the Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, November 2017.

“What does a ‘Global History of Science’ look like? Strategizing for a new ‘master narrative’”, Cosmopolitanism in the History of Science, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, India, August 2016.

“The Humanities as Catalyst for Critical Citizenship”, Future of the Humanities, Carleton University, Ottawa, May, 2016.

“The whole earth, a present for a Prince: Molyneux’s Globes and the creation of a global vision in Renaissance England”, Invited keynote address at Pacific Northwest Renaissance Conference, UBCO, October, 2014.

“Globes on Shipboard. Mathematical Instruments and their Embodied Uses, 16th – 17th centuries”, Situating Science Workshop: Spaces of Science, University of Saskatchewan, September, 2014.

Selected Grants & Awards

SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, “Cosmopolitanism and the local in science and nature: creating an east/west partnership”, 2014-17, co-applicant.  $200K.

SSHRC Cluster Grant, Situating Science, co-applicant (on 5 person management team), 2007-2012,  $2.1Million

SSHRC MCRI, “Making Publics”, co-applicant (on 7 person management team), 2005-2010, $2.5 million (share: $105,000)

Professional Services/Affiliations/Committees

President, Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, 2013-2016. (Past-President, 2016-19)

First Vice President, International Union for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Division History of Science and Technology 2013-2017.

Member, YLW  Airport Advisory Committee, 2020


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