The University of Exeter is one of the world's leading institutions for research and teaching in the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology.

History, Philosophy and Social Studies of the Life Sciences

Research under way in the life sciences is arguably a source for some of the most extraordinary opportunities, and challenges, of our time. The University of Exeter hosts one of the largest and most dynamic research groups in Europe dedicated to understanding emergent forms of biological knowledge, practice and innovation; their relation to wider developments in science and beyond, such as for instance the advent of the internet and social media; their potential and actual impact on society, at both the national and global levels; and their historical roots and dynamic development. Our research is uniquely interdisciplinary, bringing together perspectives from philosophy, sociology, anthropology and history — as well as politics, geography, law and business. We strongly believe that understanding the nature of biological research, the significance of its results and the pace at which it is advancing involves interdisciplinary interactions and collaborations; and we have a rich programme of seminars, reading groups, research meetings and workshops, as well as a steady flow of international scholars working in these areas who visit us and contribute to our discussions.

This research culture is largely due to the presence of Egenis, a research centre devoted to examining the social implications of new fields of biological research under the direction of Professor John Dupré. In its 10 years of activity to date, Egenis has made major contributions to history, philosophy and social studies of science, and hosted several key international meetings including the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB), the Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP), and the ESRC Genomics Network (EGN).

Our activities are also contributing to, and supported by, the Science, Technology and Culture Laboratory (StaCLab).

Core contributors to HPSSLS within the department are Giovanna Colombetti, John DupréHannah Farrimond, Paul Griffiths, Christine Hauskeller, Steve Hughes, Samantha Hurn, Susan Kelly, Joel Krueger, Sabina Leonelli, Staffan Müller-WilleAndrew Pickering, Brian Rappert, Adam Toon and Dana Wilson-Kovacs. We also have strong collaborative links to various disciplines at the university, including biosciences (Systems biologyMurray Grant, Nicholas Smirnoff, James Wakefield; John Bryant, Mark Van Der Giezen), business (Elena Simakova), English (Regenia Gagnier, Angelique Richardson), geography (Gail Davies, Stephen Hinchliffe), history (Centre for Medical HistoryJonathan Barry, Mark JacksonHenry French), law (SCuLEJames Griffin, Naomi HawkinsCharlotte Waelde), politics (Centre for Rural Policy ResearchPaul Brassley, Michael Winter; Dario Castiglione, Claire Dunlop, Claudio Radaelli) and statistics (ExIStA).

Our research informs our teaching at three levels:

Regular research events include research seminars at Egenis and meetings of the Exeter Biological Interest Group — a reading and discussion group open to anyone interested in this area of research. We also often host several workshops and conferences throughout the year, as well as visiting international scholars and postgraduate students.