History of Biology Seminars

2006 Seminar: Oceans and Atmospheres

Wed, May 17, 2006 - Wed, May 24, 2006
Woods Hole, MA


This is an intensive, one-week seminar with annually varying topics. It is designed for advanced graduate students, younger scholars, and also more established researchers in biology and the history and philosophy of science. The course is limited to approximately 20 participants, including discussion leaders.

The topic for 2006 is “Oceans and Atmospheres.” The course will take an historical approach to exploring the fields of oceanography and meteorology, with special focus on their interaction. Oceanography and meteorology are preeminently interdisciplinary sciences. Both have large, complex domains as their objects of study, both grapple with the difficulty of “experiment” in the traditional sense of that term, and both have depended on large-scale data-gathering projects that rely on international cooperation or the substantial institutional support of nation-states. Moreover, the histories of oceanography and meteorology are closely inter-twined, involving scientists who worked at the intersection of both fields, cross-fertilization of technical perspectives, and a growing scientific and public awareness that the Earth’s climate and biosphere depend on the interaction of the ocean and atmosphere.

MBL t-shirt

Specific themes will include historiographical issues, histories of scientific institutions and international projects, patronage, military influences, and the role of technology. Specific topics may include air/sea interaction, the general circulation, ENSO, biological oceanography and fisheries, and global change. Discussions will be led by invited historians, scientists, and philosophers. Readings and questions-to-ponder will be circulated in advance.