Vale Professor Homer Le Grand

Professor Homer Le Grand

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to pass on the sad news of the death of Emeritus Professor Homer Le Grand, who was Dean, Faculty of Arts at Monash from 1999 to 2006. During this period, Professor Le Grand also served as Dean, Faculty of Science across 1999 and 2000. Prior to his Monash appointments, Professor Le Grand had served as Dean, Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Le Grand’s achievements as Dean were significant and included initiating the Faculty of Arts’ engagement at a range of international locations, particularly the Prato Centre and Malaysia. During his period as Dean, the Faculty introduced the Global Bachelor of Arts and began the expansion of its operations to the Caulfield campus. I am told that Professor Le Grand was also highly respected and regarded as a colleague by his fellow Deans of the University. 

Through his Deanship, Professor Le Grand continued to be an active researcher and teacher and was a particularly popular lecturer in “Making Knowledge: modern scientific controversies” and “Thinking about Science” (a course Professor Le Grand developed).

Following his retirement as Dean of Arts, Professor Le Grand continued to contribute to the University as an Emeritus Professor within the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies. Those of you who knew and worked with Professor Le Grand particularly recall his cars – 1967 Ford Mustangs. The most memorable one which he drove regularly to Monash was coloured powder blue and proudly displayed bumper stickers from his “alma mater” the University of North Carolina.

On behalf of the University, I would like to pass on to Professor Le Grand’s wife, Brenda, and his family my sincere condolences.

Professor Margaret Gardner AO
President and Vice-Chancellor
19 January 2017



Professor Homer Le Grand’s time is divided amongst his three married children and their families, 1967 Ford Mustangs, his membership of the Athenaeum Club, fishing, his duties on the Board of Directors of the Postcolonial Institute, American football (including 20 years’ service as in the positions of back judge, field judge, line judge, head linesman, or umpire for the Victorian Gridiron Officials’ Association) and Test Cricket.

Professor Le Grand also does HO model railroading with his grandchildren.

Academic Appointments

  • Current: Professor, School of Philosophy and Bioethics, Faculty of Arts, Monash University
  • 1999-2006: Professor and Dean, Faculty of Arts, Monash University
  • 2000: Interim Dean, Faculty of Science, Monash University; Professor and Dean, Faculty of Arts, Monash University
  • 1994-1999: Professor and Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne.
  • 1980-81: Associé in Géologie Fondamentale, U.E.R. des Sciences de la Terre, Université de Lille I, Villeneuve d’Ascq, France
  • 1975-93: Lecturer; Senior Lecturer, Reader, Head of Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne.
  • 1970-74: Assistant Professor, Department of History, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Academic Qualifications

  • Ph.D., History of Science, University of Wisconsin, 1971
  • B.A., History / Chemistry, University of North Carolina, 1966.

Current Research

I am pursuing several projects that have at their core an examination of twentieth-century  scientific controversies. These involve an analysis how networks of scientists, equipment, techniques, theories and data develop during the contestation of knowledge claims in the earth sciences.

One is a monograph with the working title “Plate Tectonics Goes Ashore: Arguing Accreted Terranes”, co-authored with William Glen, which examines the on-going controversy over the accreted terrane concept.

A second is the continued refinement of a Web-based and CD-ROM self-study unit on the structure and rhetoric of scientific papers, which takes as a key example the 1980 Alvarez et al. paper in Science which put forward the idea of a bolide impact as the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs (and many other species at the end of the Cretaceous). Walter Alvarez uses the third version in his classes at UC-Berkeley. I am now trialling the fourth version.



  • With Professor William Glen, in preparation, provisionally titled Arguing Accreted Terranes which examines the interplay of social and cognitive interests in the development and application of the concept that substantial parts of several continents are made up of crustal and oceanic material “washed up” on and joined to them.
  • Oreskes, Naomi with H.E. Le Grand, eds. – Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth (Westview Press: Boulder) xxiv + 424 pp. (2001).
  • Le Grand, H.E., ed. – Experimental Inquiries (Kluwer, Dordrecht), xviii + 272 pp.  (1990)
  • Le Grand, H.E. – Drifting Continents and Shifting Theories, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: vi + 313 pp. (1988)
  • Duckworth, C.R. and H.E. Le Grand, eds. – Studies in the Eighteenth Century 6, Johns Hopkins University Press for the College of William and Mary, Baltimore: iv + 198 pp. (1987).

Recent Publications

  • Le Grand, H.E. and W. Glen – “The Accreted Terrane Controversy or Continental Geologists Strike Back”, in K. R. Benson & F. Rehbock, eds., Oceanographic History: The Pacific and Beyond(University of Washington Press: Seattle), 493-501. (2003)
  • Le Grand, H.E. – “Plate Tectonics, Terranes and Continental Geology”, pp. 199-213 in D.R. Oldroyd, ed., The Earth Inside and Out (Geological Society Special Publication 22, London). (2002)
  • Le Grand, H.E. and D. Zhu – Plates, Politics and Localism: Geological Theory in China, History and Anthropology, 11, no. 2-3: 1-37. (1999)
  • Le Grand, H.E. – “Paleomagnetism”, 2500-word entry in Gregory Good, ed., Sciences of the Earth, vol. 2: 651-655.  New York: Garland.  (1998).