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 12 and 17-19, 2016
Climate change is one of the key challenges facing the world today, but its implications are far more diverse than many realize. While some still argue about whether climate change is really happening, most scientists agree that it is and are focused on understanding it better and charting a way to lessen its effects. While nations discuss what should be done and who should bear the cost, many countries and cities are moving forward with their own bold initiatives. While some focus on the implications of extreme weather, others ask how climate change will affect our food systems, our social institutions, and our health. While some explore the effects of climate change in data and words, others explore it in photos, poetry, or music.