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Questing For Life
Astrobiology is the quest to understand the potential of the universe to harbor life beyond Earth. Societal understanding of life on Earth has always developed in dialogue with scientific investigations of its origin and evolution. Today, the science of astrobiology extends these investigations to include the possibility of life in the universe. As astrobiology develops and its discoveries become more widely known, scholars in the humanities and social sciences will have new opportunities to interpret the significance of these discoveries and deepen our understanding of life itself. These research workshops offer one such opportunity. Questing for Life is for emerging scholars who are open to this new angle of vision on perennial questions.
The Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) will host two four-day workshops on the quest for life, on Earth and beyond, focusing on the joint contributions of the sciences and humanities. Early career scholars (doctoral students and post-docs) working on research related to astrobiology are invited to apply. Sample topics include the use of narratives in understanding life in space; historical studies of first encounters with other cultures and natural life on Earth; how literature and the arts shape expectations of life; ethical, philosophical, and theological implications of the quest; conceptual questions in defining life; theoretical problems in identifying life; the legal, environmental, political, and commercial issues in planetary protection; and the impact of astrobiology on views of nature for indigenous and world religions. CTI aims to foster a community of discussion that crosses traditional boundaries.
Successful applicants will receive lodging and travel support to attend one of the workshops. Workshop Leaders, Dr. Lucas Mix (Evolution, Astrobiology, and Theology) and Dr. Frederick Simmons (Astrobiology and Ethics) are both members of CTI's Inquiry on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology. They and each emerging scholar will present a paper and receive feedback toward publication. Participants will experience CTI’s distinctive environment for collaborative research in Princeton, and extend their network of colleagues investigating these topics. Applications should include a current CV, a short letter of interest, and a research paper proposal of no more than 750 words that bears on the workshop’s theme.
Application deadline: March 26, 2017
Announcements: April 10, 2017
Please direct questions to the Application Manager at