Meeting Plans Get Underway
We are beginning an exciting year for ISHPSSB, as we gear up for our next meeting, in Exeter, England, July 25-28, 2007. We have had a full year in 2006, with two off-year workshops (Future Directions in the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology or FDISH for short) this past summer, and continuing discussions about the Society taking on the publication of a journal. Our Program Co-Chairs for the Exeter meeting, Han-Jörg Rheinberger and Staffan Müller-Wille have just put out the call for papers and sessions, with a new electronic submission system. The Local Arrangements Committee, chaired by John Dupré, and including Cheryl Sutton, Ginny Russell, Christine Hauskeller and Jane Calvert (all from Exeter), along with Keith Benson, Hans-Jörg and Staffan are already at work drawing up plans for the meeting and its associated activities. Meanwhile, Jim Griesemer and the Site Selection Committee have proposed, and the Council accepted, the recommendation that the 2009 meeting be held at the University of Queensland, in Brisbane, Australia. Information on all of these developments follows in greater detail in this issue of the Newsletter.
I would like to thank all members of the various committees, particularly the Publications, Program, Local Arrangements, and Site Selection Committees, who have worked very hard during the past months, to resolve a variety of issues. There were a number of issues to be considered in each case, and the committees did a superb job of balancing all considerations.
I would like to take this opportunity to bring ISHPSSB members up to date on the issue of taking over publication of the journal, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (HPLS). Originally raised as a possibility in the summer of 2005, and discussed briefly at the Society’s meeting in Guelph, a membership poll and Council review indicated that we should proceed with negotiations. Consequently, Keith and I met a year ago in London with Giorgio Bernardi, President of the Stazione Zoologica in Naples, owners and current publishers of the journal. At the London meeting we drew up a tentative agreement between ISHPSSB and the Stazione specifying such organizational plans as structure of the Editorial and Advisory Boards, procedures for selecting individuals to those boards, methods for identifying and choosing Editors, and issues of editorial control. While the prospect of the Society taking over editorship of this journal was exciting, after circulating the tentative agreement to the Council, we found that there were several issues that needed to be resolved before a final agreement could signed: (1) As one Council member noted, in the procedures set up for choosing the Advisory Board, it would be possible that none of those chosen would be ISHPSSB members. (2) Another Council member raised questions about the legal implications of an agreement signed with a foreign institution subject to different not-for-profit regulations than those in the United States, where ISHPSSB is incorporated (in the state of Virginia). (3) There were also ongoing concerns about using a large, expensive mega-publisher like Elsevier, which in the fall-winter of 2005-2006 seemed to be our only option.
Since taking on publication of HPLS would have involved a significant financial commitment for the Society, I felt that we needed concrete and official answers to these questions before we proceeded. Neither I nor the Council thought any of the issues could not be resolved, but it seemed wise to have all the details in any agreement we signed to be spelled out as explicitly as possible, and the whole document be given clearance from a legal advisor. In January, 2006 Keith submitted the tentative agreement to a lawyer who had worked with the History of Science Society in the past (and thus knew something about legalities with respect to scholarly societies), but before we could get an official report back, the Stazione concluded (in late March) that they needed to move ahead, and so decided to continue publication of HPLS on their own. This decision was made more feasible by payment of back royalties to the Stazione from their previous publisher, Taylor and Francis. Keith Benson, who had originally agreed to serve as Interim Editor of the journal under ISHPSSB auspices, agreed to serve as Editor for the Stazione.
While there is some regret that the arrangement between ISHPSSB and the Strazione did not come to fruition — it was clear the joint operation of the journal could have had benefits for both organizations — the issue of the Society having its own publication has now been raised openly for discussion. Most important, if the Society decides to launch a journal, we are now free to consider a variety of publication options that were not on the table before (for example, electronic publication only, or electronic in combination with standard hard copy, etc.). To explore these possibilities further, I have asked the Publications Committee to organize a session at the Exeter meeting where all these issues can be discussed among ISHPSSB members. The Committee will ask several members to do some background research on publication options, costs, determine how job and tenure committees view different forms of publication, so that to the best of our ability we can consider how to proceed (or not proceed) with all the necessary information. We invite everyone interested in this issue to send ideas and suggestions to the Publications Committee (Phil Sloan, Chair) and to attend the session in Exeter next July.
Plans for the 2009 Meeting
After considerable deliberation and some reworking of the original proposal from Paul Griffiths, the Site Selection Committee voted to accept the bid from the University of Queensland to hold the 2009 meeting in Brisbane, Australia. The university and the city have been most generous in making facilities and resources available. The city of Brisbane has invited a representative from ISHPSSB to make a site visit (at their expense) in the next few months. We invite all members to view the brochures from the University of Queensland on the Society's website. While we all recognize that travel to Australia will be significantly more expensive for North and South Americans and Europeans than our traditional western and northern hemisphere meeting sites, it was felt that if we are to be truly an international organization, we need to be prepared to meet around the globe wherever we have a constituency. Besides, there was considerable personal enthusiasm from a large contingency of our membership for holding a meeting in Australia, given its many cultural and biological attractions. Despite what we anticipate as increased costs, the Society is committed to continuing its funding of graduate student travel.
Call for Sites for 2011 Meeting
While wrapping up the decision for the 2009 meeting, Jim Griesemer and the Site Selection Committee are currently soliciting inquiries and proposals for the 2011 meeting. Given that the 2007 meeting is in the UK, and the 2009 is set for "down under" we would expect the 2011 meeting to be held in North America, presumably the United States (since the 2005 meeting was in Canada). However, proposals from anywhere are welcome — indeed, the more the better. Guidelines and information about hosting a meeting can be found on the website, at http://www.ishpssb.org/operations/site_selection_comm.html
Entries for the Marjorie Grene Prize
It is time to begin thinking about submissions for the Marjorie Grene Prize, awarded for the best paper presented at one of the two previous ISHPSSB meetings (Vienna or Guelph). The prize is intended to advance the careers of younger scholars, so please get your papers ready! More details on the prize are given in the Call for Submissions in this issue of the newsletter.
Call for Nominations
Michael Dietrich and the Nominations Committee are currently seeking nominations for ISHPSSB officers and Council members. Our Society runs on voluntary service, so we need wide participation from members to take over a variety of leadership roles. Please send your suggestions to the Nominations Committee. More detailed information can be found in the Committee's announcement in this newsletter.
Keith Benson and Chris Young to Step Down as Treasurer and Secretary, Respectively
The Society is losing the services of two of its most hard-working and loyal members, Chris Young as Secretary and Keith Benson as Treasurer. Both have served in their present capacities since 1999. Chris and Keith thus represent some of the most long-standing officers of ISHPSSB. They have provided much-needed continuity in the basic mechanics of running the society both on a daily basis and throughout our two-year meeting cycles.
Chris Young has carried out numerous duties as Secretary, including preparation of this newsletter twice a year (since 1996). The newsletter not only serves as a source of a lot of information about the Society, meetings and workshops, and functions such as soliciting entries for our prize contests, but also knits our far-flung community together. As Secretary, Chris has also maintained our membership lists, no easy task, since we originally had no regular plan for getting renewals except by who registered at the biennial meeting. Chris has regularized the process considerably (starting in 2001), and as a consequence we have a much more realistic accounting of our membership lists. We all owe Chris a tremendous round of thanks for his considerable effort on the Society's behalf. He will be missed, that's for sure.
It is with considerable regret that I have to announce that Keith Benson intends to step down from the post of ISHPSSB treasurer at the end of the Exeter meeting. Keith has served the Society as treasurer since the Oaxaca meeting in 1999, and is largely responsible for the excellent financial situation that we enjoy today. Keith's excellent management skills, involving everything from working with Program Chairs and Local Arrangements Committees in organizing meetings, to his savvy advice on meeting sites and negotiations with contractors, has put, and kept, us in an exceptionally strong financial situation. We all owe Keith an enormous debt of gratitude for his good work. Being any organization’s treasurer (but especially a not-for-profit organization), is at times a difficult and thankless task — treasurers get little credit when things go well and lots of blame when there are problems. Keith has managed to negotiate the ins and outs of finances so well that the problems were few and far between, while the successes have been considerable. We will miss him, and wish him well in his editorial role with HPLS.
These resignations mean that we will need to start immediately with the process of seeking volunteers/nominations for the positions of Secretary and Treasurer. The new term will start at the end of the Exeter meeting, roughly August 1, 2007. More details on the procedure for nominations can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.
Planning for ISHPSSB 2007
Exeter (Great Britain), July 25-29, 2007
Exeter hosts Summer Meeting
The 2007 Summer meeting will be held at the University of Exeter, the regional capital of the South West of England. Small but perfectly formed, the University campus is set amid landscaped gardens, and the city boasts an impressive history. From its stunning cathedral to its historic quayside, all the best bits are within walking distance of each other. The city is on the edge of the Exe estuary, which adjoins some of the country's most stunning beaches.
Exeter has been inhabited for over 2000 years, and it is possible to see traces of every major period of English history in the architecture of the city. Dominating the skyline, the medieval Cathedral is an outstanding example of decorated Gothic style architecture with unique Norman transeptal towers. Areas around Cathedral Close form an oasis of calm and tranquillity in the centre of the city.
Our hosts, Egenis, the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, led by Prof. John Dupré, will be providing a series of free guided walks around the campus and city, as well as trips to the nearby coast for fossilling, boating, and to the famous biodomes of the Eden project. In addition of course to the usual academic sessions! Find out more at http://www.centres.ex.ac.uk/egenis/events/ishpssb/programme.htm
The Treasurer’s Personal Views of Exeter
As is normal practice in ISHPSSB, I conducted a pre-meeting site visit in Exeter from 8-10 October, which confirmed the wisdom of selecting Exeter for our 2007 meeting site.
Exeter is a beautiful collegiate town located in the bucolic setting of southwestern England. It is close to the sea, it is home to the famous Exeter Cathedral, and it is small and compact enough for leisurely strolls back-and-froth from most accommodations to the conference site on campus. John Dupré, Staffan Mueller-Wille, and the wonderful staff at EGENIS have made all kinds of arrangements to ensure that our visit will be a most memorable one.
But I also wanted to assure all of you that getting to and from Exeter is extremely easy. There are direct flights to Bristol from many major European cities and even some cities in North America. There are also direct air connections from Paris to Exeter, so others may elect this option. Finally, I took a direct flight to London, caught the Paddington Express, and then boarded the train for a delightful ride directly to Exeter. So, while Exeter may not have a large international airport, connections to and from it are very easy.
Finally, we are all in for a treat when we experience the hospitality in Exeter. I have rarely found a location in which everyone was so anxious to provide assistance and information. From the cab driver who assured me that the Great Western Railway was designed by Brunel to the owner of the men’s clothing store who wanted to make sure I tasted one of the best local ales, everyone appeared committed to welcome visitors to their wonderful city.
More information will be published in the early spring, but be sure to be on the lookout for good airfares, spend extra time either before or after along Devon’s Jurassic shoreline, and prepare for another wonderful ISHPSSB meeting. I will see you all in Exeter.
Call for Papers
Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger
Since its inception, the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) has brought together scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to discuss historical, conceptual, epistemological, political, institutional, and ethical issues of the life sciences in an open and informal setting. Over the past twenty-odd years, attendance has increased from about 60 participants to about 350 in Guelph, 2005. In 2007, we hope to continue our tradition of an inclusive and experimental approach, while meeting the challenge of increased attendance.
Scholars wishing to attend the meeting are now invited to submit session and paper proposals on the ISHPSSB website (visit http://www.ishpssb.org/meeting.html. Deadline for submissions is February 15, 2007, and abstracts should not exceed 500 words. Please also note the guidelines for paper acceptance that have been adopted by the Society.
To facilitate communication in advance of submission, the ISHPSSB website also offers the possibility to post ideas for sessions and discussion panels electronically (http://www.ishpssb.org/phorum/list.php?9). If you are interested in putting together a session or discussion panel by posting a call for contributions electronically, we urge you to specify a deadline for responses to you personally.
While individual paper submissions are welcome, we strongly encourage submission of session and panel discussion proposals. For the 2007 meeting, we especially seek sessions that
- are innovative and cross-disciplinary in content and/or format;
- strengthen the lines of communication among historians, philosophers, social scientists, and biologists;
- open conversations that lead to new ways of thinking about the life sciences and the disciplines that study it;
- bring together people of different disciplinary and national backgrounds.
The Society is open to proposals on any topic connected with the history, philosophy and social studies of the life sciences. For the 2007 meeting, we would especially welcome sessions in the following areas:
- Interdisciplinarity. Recent years have seen the foundation of interdisciplinary centers for the study of the life sciences and their social, legal, and ethical implications in a number of national contexts. At the same time there is a trend towards disciplinary segregation that has also been felt during the ISHPSSB meetings in recent years. What explains these trends of disciplinary specialization? Are historians, philosophers, and social scientists heading in similar directions, or are they heading far afield from one another? Is the pressure on biology studies to become ‘policy relevant’ acting against or actually encouraging specialization? Why do history, philosophy, and sociology of science tend to drift apart, while disciplines become less and less important in the life sciences themselves?
- Anthropology of the Life Sciences. Recent years have seen a number of attempts to employ the empirical methods and the conceptual tools of social anthropology in the study of the life sciences, especially with respect to the effects of new reproductive technologies on conceptions of kinship and identity. Is there such a thing as an ‘anthropological approach’ to the life sciences, and if so, what could it look like? And is this indeed the field, as some of its protagonists claim, where historical, sociological, and philosophical studies of the life sciences could join hands to adequately reflect the complex, hybrid formations in which biological knowledge is produced today?
- Biology and Politics. From William Harvey’s theory of blood circulation to Rudolf Virchow’s cell theory, from Darwin’s theory of evolution to present day conceptions of the genome as ‘our common inheritance’ -- biological themes have always resonated with political ones. What is the impact that novel biological theories and practices have had on conceptions of human identity and agency, especially in the contested areas of sex/gender and race/ethnicity? And how do political agendas and contexts shape research in the life sciences?
- Systems Biology. Recent years have seen an upsurge of systemic approaches in biology that try to make sense of the vast amounts of data that have been accumulated by the genome sequencing projects and other data-gathering exercises. Systemic approaches have a long history in biology. But do their recent counterparts actually signal a return to a more holistic biology, or are we in fact witnessing the complete takeover of mechanism and reductionism in biology? And does systems biology raise new ethical, legal, and social challenges?
- Biology beyond the Evolutionary Synthesis. A lot of scholarly attention, especially in the philosophy of biology, has been invested into the interpretation and evaluation of evolutionary theory. Large areas in the biomedical sciences, however, are concerned with data collection or the elucidation of mechanisms and functions, activities that seem to gain little, if anything, from evolutionary speculations. Moreover, it becomes increasingly evident that the large majority of organisms, especially microorganisms, do not fit the standard model of speciation. How would a broader perspective on the life sciences affect our understanding of life?
The basic time unit for sessions will be 90 minutes; sessions encompassing two such units (but not more) are welcome, as long as there are at least five formal participants over the two sessions. We encourage innovative formats. If you are interested in proposing a session with an unusual format (e.g., with pre-circulated papers or requiring an unusual room format or special equipment), please contact us so we can make sure it is feasible.
If you have any ideas, questions, or suggestions, please contact the program officers. Email contact is strongly preferred, but if you do not have access to it, you may also send letters via regular mail. If you write by e-mail, please make sure to include the term ISHPSSB in your subject line.
Staffan Müller-Wille Hans-Jörg Rheinberger
ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society Max-Planck-Institute for the
University of Exeter History of Science
Amory Building, Rennes Drive Boltzmannstr. 22
Exeter EX4 4RJ D-14195 Berlin
United Kingdom Germany
Summer 2006 Off-Year Workshop Success
ISHPSSB hosted its second off-year workshop at Indiana University this summer, “Future Directions in Biology Studies” (FDIBS), 26-30 July. Modeled on the successful 2004 workshop in San Francisco, FDIBS focused on cross-disciplinary graduate student training and research.
FDIBS was attended by 75 participants (41 students, 34 faculty) from Australia, Canada, England, Israel, Mexico, and the USA. Generous travel grants allowed us to recruit students from all over the world.
FDIBS was organized by a team of grad students, Jason Byron, Matt Dunn, and Lisa Onaga, with organizational assistance from Lisa Lloyd and Colin Allen. FDIBS was generously supported by a large grant from the Indiana University Office of the Vice President for Research. The National Science Foundation funded student travel awards, and the Indiana University Human Origins Institute donated their facility for the opening reception. Participating faculty chipped in to pay for the Happy Office Hours (Indiana State law is particularly harsh about alcohol purchases, we discovered).
FDIBS kicked off the workshop Wednesday evening with a reception at the beautiful Human Origins Institute, an independent anthropology research facility a few miles outside Bloomington. Plenary sessions were scheduled Thursday through Sunday. These were followed by Roundtable Discussions and Breakout Sessions in the afternoons and Happy Office Hours in the evenings Thursday to Saturday.
The Plenary sessions were organized around a central theme, with three or four speakers from different disciplines giving 25-minute talks each. The remaining time was devoted to open discussion. The speakers were given wide latitude to discuss their latest work, and the sessions generated significant cross-disciplinary discussion. The sessions focused on “Situating Knowledges” (Steve Downes, Staffan Mueller-Wille, Tom Gieryn); “Genetics and Society” (Gar Allen, Paul Griffiths, Mike Lynch); “Rethinking Interdisciplinarity” (Erika Milam, Lindley Darden, Fred Tauber); and “Evolution” (Lisa Lloyd, Roberta Millstein, Joe Cain, Jim Griesemer).
The Roundtables were practical mini-workshops on “Gender,” “Navigating the Interdisciplines,” and “Jobs & Publishing.” Speakers gave 10-minute presentations, which were followed by question and answer. Grad students reported the roundtables extremely useful and informative.
The most innovative aspect of FDIBS was the student-led breakout sessions. Three concurrent sessions were offered each day Thursday to Saturday, with 6-32 participants attending each one. The sessions featured two pre-circulated papers on overlapping topics from different disciplinary perspectives or methodologies. After a short presentation by the discussion leaders, the rest of the session was devoted to open discussion. This gave participants the opportunity to do some real hands-out interdisciplinary work. Student participants were invited to propose their own sessions during initial registration, and topics ranged from “Biology, Society, and the Public Sphere” to “Invasion Biology” to “New Approaches in Cancer Research.”
Following tradition from the San Francisco workshop, FDIBS featured “Happy Office Hours” every evening Thursday to Saturday. During breakfast each morning, faculty participants signed up to host an office hour at one of three bars. After the breakout sessions, we posted the signup, and roughly one third of the crowd went to each of the three bars. The group happy office hours were extremely successful. Students and faculty were able to chat in a relaxed, informal environment, and the group setting allowed participants to meet several different people each night.
For more information, please see the FDIBS website: http://www.indiana.edu/~fdibs06
Call for Nominations
The Society must elect a President-elect to serve that function from 2007 to 2009 (while Jim Griesemer is President) and then become President from 2009 to2011. Nominees are also needed for three members of the council to serve for the period from 2007 to2011, for Program Officer for ISHPSSB 2009, as well as for Secretary and Treasurer. The latter two officers are eligible to succeed themselves. However, Keith Benson has expressed his desire to step down after our 2007 meeting. We encourage suggestions to the nominations committee. Descriptions of these positions and their duties are outlined in the Operations Manual available at http://www.ishpssb.org/operations.html.
Members may also nominate a candidate directly. If two or more members nominate the same person for the same office, then that person will be considered nominated, according to our bylaws. Any person nominated for an office will be contacted by the Nominations Committee and notified of their nomination. Nominees must accept their nomination before appearing on the ballot.
Call for Nominations for Student Rep 2007-2009
Call for Grene Prize Submissions
ISHPSSB seeks submissions for the 2007 Marjorie Grene Prize. This prize is intended to advance the careers of younger scholars, and will be awarded to the best manuscript based on a presentation at one of the two previous ISHPSSB meetings (Guelph or Vienna) by someone who was, at the time of presentation, a graduate student.
It is very appropriate for ISHPSSB to name this prize in Marjorie Grene's honor. Not only does her work in the history and philosophy of biology exemplify the strong spirit of interdisciplinary work fundamental to ISHPSSB, but she played a central role in bringing together diverse scholars of biology even before the formation of the Society. She has been a valued mentor to many members of the Society and a long-standing inspiration to all.
The award will consist of a certificate and an award of $500.
Submissions should be in the form of a paper prepared for submission to a professional journal, with an indication of the journal in question and whether the paper is already in review. Electronic submissions, in Microsoft Word or PDF format, are preferred and must be emailed no later than March 1, 2005. Hardcopy submissions must include three complete copies of the paper and be mailed no later than March 1, 2005. The winning entry will be announced by May 1, 2005.
Upcoming Meetings of Interest
Workshop on "Collaborative generation of environmental knowledge and inquiry"
How do we make sense of the growing attention to the collaborative generation of environmental knowledge and inquiry? After all, all research is collaborative-even solitary scientists have to secure audiences if their findings are to become established as knowledge-so why emphasize collaboration in environmental research? Given that the reasons put forward are diverse, how are the various different angles on collaboration related in theory and practice? In what ways can scientists, science educators, and scholars in history, philosophy, and social studies of science conceptualize, interpret, teach about, and engage in the collaborative generation of environmental knowledge and inquiry? What can we learn reflexively from our own experience in an interaction-intensive workshop around these questions?
Applications are sought from teachers and researchers (including graduate students) who are interested in promoting the social contextualization of science through interdisciplinary education and outreach activities beyond their current disciplinary and academic boundaries.
Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole MA, USA
Dates 9am April 19 -
2pm April 22, 2007
Organizer: Peter J. Taylor, University of Massachusetts Boston, Program in Science, Technology and Values
Funding from NSF for the workshop includes a $200 stipend/subsidy for travel and accommodation for each participant contingent on receipt of new curriculum or outreach activities within six months of workshop's completion.
In addition, some additional subsidy is available for the remainder of travel and accommodation, with priority given to graduate students and independent scholars (including a graduate student "apprentice")
For more details, see http://www.stv.umb.edu/newssc07.html
For arrangements & application process, see http://www.stv.umb.edu/newsscarrange.html
Application target date: December 31
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Regulation of the Biosciences
25-27 January, 2007 University of Exeter, UK
Among the Speakers:
Siobhán Yeats, European Patent Office
Joyce Tait, Innogen, ESRC Genomics Network
Richard Moore, Eucomed
Tony Lake, Chief Constable, Lincolnshire Police, Chair National DNA Database Strategy Board
Michael Hauskeller, Egenis, ESRC Genomics Network
Richard Gold, McGill University
Mark Cantley, European Commission (1979-92, and 1999-2006), OECD (1993-98)
Roger Brownsword, King’s College London
Jane Calvert, Egenis, ESRC Genomics Network
Christine Hauskeller, Egenis, ESRC Genomics Network
Genetic and genomic information continue to transform the life sciences and the application of this knowledge is progressively interwoven with everyday life. It is often presumed that bio-science and technology require new or specific modes of governance, and this assumption appears to motivate many regulatory regimes. But is the governance of genomics special? If so, what makes it special? What modes of regulation are currently emerging? Does ‘the public’ have a special role to play in the governance of genomics? Does the idea of ‘genetic citizenship’ presuppose genetic essentialism? The 3rd International Egenis Conference provides an interdisciplinary platform for discussion of these issues.
Registration Fee: Standard £150, Student £75.
For delegate registration, and further information including accommodation, please visit the conference website:
Egenis, the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, is part of the ESRC Genomics Network: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/egenis
Special Offers from Publishers
Biological Theory: Integrating Development, Evolution, and Cognition
The KLI and the MIT Press are glad to be in the position to offer ISHPSSB members a 20% discount on individual print and/or electronic subscriptions to our new journal Biological Theory: Integrating Development, Evolution, and Cognition.
Biological Theory is devoted to theoretical advances in the fields of biology and cognition, with an emphasis on the conceptual integration afforded by evolutionary and developmental approaches. The quarterly journal aims to include a wide audience of scientists, social scientists, and scholars from the humanities, in particular philosophers and historians of biology, among its readership.
More about Biological Theory can be found at http://mitpress.mit.edu/biot
The discounted prices are:
Individual (Print & Electronic): $52.00
Individual (Electronic only): $46.80 Shipping outside of the US and Canada is an additional $25.00 per year for print subscriptions. Canadians pay 6% GST on all subscriptions.
Annals of Science