The Value of the literary and historical study of biology to biologistsInnovation award
Professor Nick Battey, University of Reading
Dr John Holmes (University of Reading)
Professor Francoise Le Saux (University of Reading)
Professor Karin Lesnik- Oberstein (University of Reading)
Dr David Stack (University of Reading)
Dr Rachel Crossland (University of Reading)
The aim of the study was to establish whether and how far work on biology within the humanities- particularly history, literary criticism and critical theory- may be of value to practicing biologists.
In addition to surveying existing literature on biology within these disciplines, particularly that which seeks to engage directly with biologists, we held a workshop to introduce 30 biologists to different humanities approaches to biology. Following four presentations by scholars from different humanities disciplines, the workshop participants were asked to consider how relevant and/or useful such approaches might be to their own work, and invited to think about how biologists might work with humanities academics and/or techniques in research, teaching, museum curating and textual analysis.
On the basis of this study, we conclude that there is real potential for the humanities to play a part in the future development of biology, and that co-disciplinary collaborations between biologists and humanities scholars in research and teaching could lay the foundations for a new, more rounded and ultimately more complete approach to the study of human beings, our fellow organisms and the environments we share with them.
The scoping study produced as part of this project is available to download here:
A Case Study (PDF) of this AHRC Science in Culture Theme Exploratory Award is available to download here.