Alistair Kwan

MSc (Hons); MA (Hons) Melb.; MA PhD Yale

Research | Current

Alistair looks to history for insights into teaching, learning and knowledge in our own day. He applies material culture, replication and textual methods to examine how processes, media, tools, instruments, architecture and representation affect the production, storage, recovery, communication, teaching and learning of scientific knowledge. His current projects mainly address three overlapping topics: science education, educational technologies, university heritage.

Teaching | Current

Alistair coordinates the Academic Leadership Initiative for doctoral candidates, and teaches workshops for tutors, doctoral students and supervisors. In past roles, he has taught small-group pedagogy and didactics, physics, history of science, historical bibliography, bookbinding, letterpress printing.

Postgraduate supervision

Project topics available:

  • history of science, technology, mathematics, engineering
  • history of science education
  • history of educational technology (including textbooks)
  • embodiment, materiality, spatiality and architecture of teaching and learning
  • laboratory and fieldwork learning 
  • museum education 
  • object-based pedagogies
  • intercultural and historical approaches to STEM education

Students are welcome to conduct research in Alistair's primary source collection of 19th and 20th century texts and manuscripts in science education.


  • International Scholar, Society for the History of Technology
  • Junior Fellow, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
  • Research Fellow, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
  • Connecticut-Baden Württemberg Exchange Scholar
  • European Studies Fellow, Yale Center for International & Area Studies

Committees/Professional groups/Services

University committees:

  • Faculty of Education Research Committee
  • Faculty of Science Academic Committee
  • University Library Committee
  • University Disability Strategy Advisory Group

External service:

Scholarly societies:

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Kwan, A. (2017). Interpreting Tools by Imagining Their Uses. Journal of Museum Education, 42 (1), 69-80. 10.1080/10598650.2016.1268884
  • Kwan, A. M. (2016). Two short stories from the history of science education. Paper presented at 2nd International Seminar on Science Education (ISSE 2016), Universitas Negeri Yogjakarta, Indonesia. 29 October - 29 October 2016.
  • Kwan, A. M. (2016). Mutual benefits from making teaching and collections intersect. Paper presented at 3rd APRU University Museum Research Symposium, University of Hong Kong. 5 October - 7 October 2016. Related URL.
  • Barton, R., & Kwan, A. M. (2016). Jock Hoe: Mathematician, linguist and historian, 1929–2016. Pacific Circle Bulletin, 37, 3-4. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ruth Barton
  • Kwan, A. M. (2016). aucklandthesis - a Memoir-based class for formatting University of Auckland masters' and doctors' theses [Computer software]. CTAN. Related URL.
  • Kwan, A. (2016). Historic Methods for Capturing Magnetic Field Images. The Physics Teacher, 54 (3), 134-137. 10.1119/1.4942129
  • Kwan, A. M. (2016). “Do not kill guinea pig before setting up apparatus”: the kymograph's lost educational context. Teorie Vědy/Theory of Science, 38 (3), 301-335. Related URL.
  • Kwan, A. M. (2016). Advice for international students. In C. McMaster, C. Murphy (Eds.) Graduate Study in the USA Surviving and Succeeding (pp. 173-181). Peter Lang GmbH, Internationaler Verlag Der Wissenschaften.