Stranger Fruit

2009 ASU-MBL History of Biology Seminar: Theory in the Life Sciences

May 20-27

Application Deadline: January 15, 2009

The MBL-ASU History of Biology Seminar is an intensive week with annually varying topics designed for a group of no more than 25 advanced graduate students, postdoctoral associates, younger scholars, and established researchers in biology, history, philosophy, and the social sciences.

The 2009 seminar will focus on the meaning of "theory in biology" as well as "biological theory." What makes biological theories different from theories in the physical sciences, and how has this issue been addressed throughout the 20th century? Historical research into the development of theoretical and experimental practices of biology plays a crucial role in understanding the conceptual foundations of biology today. The crucial assumptions and conceptual constraints, the details of the central experimental systems or original formal models, as well as the supporting data and measurements are generally not part of the current formulations of biological theories. Without such knowledge it will be difficult to accomplish the kind of theoretical synthesis that is envisioned as the basis of 21st century biology. Accordingly, this year’s ASU-MBL seminar will explore the role of theory in the life sciences from multiple scholarly angles including history and philosophy of biology as well as theoretical biology itself.

The seminar is an excellent opportunity for graduate students interested in any aspects of history, philosophy or theory of biology to refine and shape their research. It is also an excellent opportunity for biologists to become involved with history, and historians/philosophers/social scientists to become involved with the current discussions in theoretical biology. The seminar is intended for all scholars with an interest in these questions and their relations to other sciences and society.

Seminar Directors: John Beatty, University of British Columbia; James Collins, Arizona State University; Jane Maienschein, Arizona State University

Organizers for 2009: Manfred Laubichler,with John Beatty and James Collins.

The History of Biology Seminar is offered in collaboration with and is funded by Arizona State University. For more information about the seminar, past topics, updates, and application information, please visit: