The unique mission of the Life Sciences & Society Program is to bring together researchers from across disciplines and schools to develop innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to the intersections between the life sciences and human cultures. Our areas of study encompass the historical, cultural, ethical, and economic contexts and impacts of the life sciences, as well as explorations of society itself that draw on the methodologies of the life sciences.
An Experiment on a Bird in an Airpump, Joseph Wright, 1768; National Gallery, London, England
Today’s society faces profound ethical, legal, economic, and policy questions related to many aspects of the life sciences, including food production, medicine, the environment, reproduction, and even the very definition of the human. The complex ways in which the life sciences are embedded within culture present challenges to both scientists and non-scientists who wish to reach a deeper understanding of the cultural impacts of science, promote the responsible application of scientific developments, and better understand society using scientific theories and methodologies. The program promotes the cultivation of connections between the sciences, social sciences, and humanities and is committed enhancing research, teaching, and community involvement through productive dialogues that stretch across colleges and beyond the border of the academy.
March 13-15, 2015
Epigenetics (meaning above genetics) is the branch of science that studies the regulation of genes and other genetic material. Beginning before conception and continuing until death, time-specific and space-specific epigenetic instructions are required for each cell in each organ to work appropriately. These instructions may be dependent on the parent of origin (mother or father) and can be altered by the environment—some alterations may even be passed to subsequent generations. For those of you who remember your biology, this means Lamarck may not have been entirely wrong.