Robert Smith, Ph.D. (History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge)

Professor, Faculty of Arts - History, Classics, & Religion Dept


Professor, Faculty of Arts - History, Classics, & Religion Dept
(780) 492-3918
2-1 Tory (H.M.) Building
11211 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H4



Robert Smith was awarded his PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge in 1979. He joined the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta in 1998. Before that, he was Chair of the Space History Department of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Musem in Washington DC.He has been the Lindberg Chair of Aerospace History at the Smithsonian Institution and a Fellow of the National Humanities Centre, as well as a McCalla Professor and Killam Annual Professor at the University of Alberta.In 2016, he won the Faculty of Arts Award for Full Professors for Excellence in Research.

For some personal details of Robert Smith, go to the `Links' section of this page to `Meet the Professor'!


Robert Smith's main scholarly interests are in the history of science and technology from the late eighteenth century to today. He has particular interests in the history of astronomy and the history of spaceflight. At present, he is, among other projects, following closely the development of the $10 Billion James Webb Space Telescope. This joint enterprise of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency is due to be launched into space in 2019.


Robert Smith very much enjoys teaching a wide range of courses. These stretch from a course on the history of the debate on the existence of extraterrestrial life to one on the history of World War II. In Fall Term 2018, he is teaching the following courses:

Fall Term 2018

HIST 296: World War II 

HIST 486: Topics in the History of Technology: The History of Spaceflight   

If you would more information on any of these courses, please email Professor Smith.


HIST 293 - History of Science, Technology and Medicine: Key Moments

Pivotal events in the history of science, technology, and medicine using a wide variety of historical sources, such as photographs, artifacts, films, letters, and diaries.

HIST 296 - World War Two

The global conflict, with emphasis on political, social, scientific, and cultural aspects.

HIST 394 - History of Astronomy and Cosmology from Stonehenge to the Space Age

An examination of the major themes in the history of astronomy and cosmology from the ancient world to the present day.

HIST 486 - Topics in the History of Technology

Prerequisite: 3 units in HIST at the 300-level or consent of Department.

HIST 697 - Topics in the History of Technology

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