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ISHPSSB Pre-Conference Workshop
'Biology and Society' Programs: Preparing Students for
Biology in Social Context

Wednesday, July 16, 2003
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
University of Vienna
(room location to be announced)

In a variety of critical, global issues, including environmental quality, agriculture, health care, biotechnology, and international relations, the biological sciences are interwoven with social, economic, and political concerns.  Traditional undergraduate biology programs fail to critically address the social contexts of science, and degree programs in the history, philosophy, or social studies of biology may not foster adequate understandings of biology subject matter. Are 'biology and society' programs a promising way to prepare further policy-makers, educators, biologists, and citizens to understand and constructively influence the complex issues of biology in social context? To explore this question, the ISHPSSB Education Committee will sponsor a pre-conference workshop on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm, at the University of Vienna.  (A general reception opens the conference later that evening, and paper sessions begin the next day. ) 

In this interactive workshop, participants will consider possible goals, topics, and instructional approaches for biology and society programs.  We will begin with an instructional perspective: What kinds of learning activities help students develop the skills and understandings they need to investigate the intersections of biology and society?  Workshop participants, in the role of students, will work together on activities that lead students to analyze biology in social context.  A discussion that includes sharing of teaching experiences and approaches will complement these activities.  In the afternoon, we will turn to the broader issues of program goals and design. What can biology and society programs accomplish that existing approaches in biology, history, philosophy, and social studies of science fail to do? How can biology and society programs engage traditional disciplines, while also exceeding them? What should a biology and society curriculum look like?  What does it take to start a program? 
To guide and enrich our discussions, representatives from biology and society programs will describe their approaches, not as models to be duplicated, but as inspirations for further creative thinking.  Workshop presenters will include Jane Maienschein, Jim Collins, and Manfred Laubichler, from the Biology and Society Program in the Biology Department at Arizona State University (see:

The workshop is free, but space is limited. Please contact Steve Fifield ([log in to unmask], 302-831-1469), Chair of the ISHPSSB Education Committee, if you plan to attend. The location of the workshop on the University of Vienna campus will be announced soon.
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