Biology and Society is home to both traditional and more collaborative research projects that draw on the interdisciplinary strengths of programs in the history and philosophy of science, environmental sciences, and bioethics, policy and law.
Computational History & Philosophy of Science
We use a variety of computational tools and techniques to aid historical and philosophical study of the life sciences.
The Laubichler Developmental Evolution Laboratory develops and deploys computational approaches to reconstruct and interrogate the the social, material, and conceptual evolution of scientific fields. Our research focuses specifically on pivotal innovations in 20th-century biological and biomedical sciences. Learn more
The Digital Innovation Group (DigInG) brings together students from computer science and the history and philosophy of science to create new and innovative tools, infrastructure, and methods for computational HPS research and training. Learn more
Environmental History, Ecology and Economics
Biology and Society researchers explore the historical, ethical, philosophical, ecological, and economic dimensions of human interactions with the environment.
The ecoSERVICES Group at ASU studies the causes and consequences of change in ecosystem services – the benefits that people derive from the biophysical environment. We analyse biodiversity change in terms of its impacts on the things that people care about, ranging from food production to disease regulation to the ethical impulse to protect other species. Learn more
What obligations do we have toward species and wildlands in a rapidly changing and increasingly human-shaped environment? How can a better understanding of the American conservation tradition enhance our efforts to secure a biologically and culturally rich environmental future? Learn more
We are uniquely fire creatures on a uniquely fire planet. Contrasting the usual approach to fire as solely a physical phenomenon, our research concentrates on fire as biologically and culturally constructed as well. We consider all aspects of fire, including issues of industrial combustion and climate change, although attention to pyrotechnologies and urban fire is minor. Learn more
History & Philosophy of Science
The interdisciplinary field of history and philosophy of science examines the conceptual foundations of science and the connections of science to society.
The Carnap Project is an intitiative to produce a set of volumes that will contain all of the works of philosopher of science Rudolf Carnap in English, as well as the original language of publication, with introductions from distinguished scholars. Learn more
Biology and Society is a founding member of the dHPS Consortium—a network that brings together historians and philosophers of science, with informaticians, computer scientists, and reference librarians with the goal of thinking of new ways to integrate traditional scholarship with digital tools and resources. Learn more
The Embryo Project engages and connects researchers who aim to capture and investigate the history, science, and contexts of embryos in new ways. Learn more
The seminar covers a range of topics and brings together historians, philosophers, biologists, and social scientists in a week-long intensive discussion. Learn more
The HPS Repository is an open-source, open-access digital repository that seeks to store in a sustainable way the materials that support the digital HPS projects at Biology and Society. The HPS Repository contains thousands of digitized items in formats ranging from video and audio files to photographs to the graph-products of the DigInG group. Materials in the HPS Repository are available to the public under creative commons license, and storage options will soon be open to HPS-related groups. Learn more
The MBL History Project seeks to bring to public attention the rich history of the Marine Biological Laboratory, located in Woods Hole, MA. The MBL has been home to many award-winning scientists since it opened in 1888, and this project, run through Biology and Society at ASU, documents that history for the public by digitizing the MBL’s rich archives and creating digital exhibits that put the science of the institution into context for the public. Learn more
Life Science Ethics
Biology and Society researchers combine bioethics, environmental ethics, research ethics, and science studies to bring multiple critical perspectives to bear on ethical issues in the life sciences.
Investigation of the ethical context of decision-making in ecological research and biodiversity management, especially under conditions of rapid environmental change. Supported by the National Science Foundation. Learn more
Ethical engagement is a vital part of the ongoing development of knowledge and practices in the life sciences. Biology and Society researchers foster engagement through developing and assessing life science ethics education materials. Learn more
Developments in the biosciences in the last half-century have posed new ethical challenges that have strained existing institutions of governance. This research engages with these emergent ethical issues, attending in particular to changing relationships between science, politics and law in the governance of the life sciences and technologies in contemporary democracies. For more information, please contact Ben Hurlbut.
Neuroscience and society includes projects on the comparative study of the evolution and development of brains and behavior, emerging technologies for brain repair, psychiatric diagnosis and classification, and the relationship between psychiatry and neuroscience. Learn more