The unique mission of the Life Sciences & Society Program is to bring together researchers from across disciplines and schools in order to develop innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to the fields of inquiry that lie at the junctures of the life sciences and culture. Our areas of study encompass investigations of 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 is facing profound ethical, legal, economic, and policy questions related to many aspects of the life sciences, including food production, new biotechnologies, medicine, the environment, 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 commitments and impacts of science, or to promote the responsible application of scientific developments. It is the goal of the Life Sciences & Society Program to meet this challenge by facilitating the development of novel, synergistic methodologies. The program promotes the cultivation of connections between the logic and languages of the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. We are committed enhancing research, teaching, and community involvement through productive dialogues that stretch across colleges and beyond the border of the academy.
March 10-16, 2014
The "Decoding Science" Symposium and its allied events will focus on how the scientist-public dialog can be improved, featuring speakers who have something unique to say about crafting effective messages, understanding audiences, and establishing useful interactions to reconnect and rekindle the conversation between scientists and the public. Events are designed to stimulate thought about novel ways of generating science engagement, including comics, motion pictures and art, and will also examine what the public sees as credible information and sources and how cultural and cognitive barriers make communication difficult.