Professor Homer Le Grand


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).