Scientific World Conceptions Summer School, 3-15 July 2017, Austria

Publish Date: Dec 10, 2016

Deadline: Jan 31, 2017

Event Dates: from Jul 03, 2017 12:00 to Jul 15, 2017 12:00

General Information

Since 2001 the Institute Vienna Circle (IVC) together with the University of Vienna, Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR), holds an annual two-week summer programme under the general title of "Scientific World Conceptions" (SWC) at the new University Campus. The title of this programme reflects the heritage of the Vienna Circle and emphasises its interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary character. Accordingly, USS-SWC will address current topics in the natural and social sciences, the history and philosophy of the sciences and the humanities as embedded in their cultural contexts.

The feasibility or even possibility of a scientific world view has become a subject of international debate. However, current discussions on the relationship between science and culture, modernism and postmodernism, often exhibit a serious neglect of the history of science and its methodology.

As the 21st century begins, USS-SWC must embrace the societal aspects of science as well as the applications of science and the insights science provides for foundational issues. VISU-SWC also aims to bridge the increasing gap between the sciences and the humanities (Natur-, Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaften) by promoting rational and analytical discussions of central issues of concern to scientists and other scholars, and to the public at large. To this end, courses with a theoretical and logical orientation will find a place by the side of practically orientated ones. In connection with the Institute Vienna Circles major areas of research and its expanding archive devoted to scientific philosophy, USS-SWC will offer courses or lecturers on Viennas traditions in the history of the philosophy of science or the history of science and the humanities.

USS-SWC is directed primarily to graduate and postgraduate students and junior researchers and scholars in these fields. Applications also are strongly encouraged from people at any stage of their careers who wish to broaden their scientific horizons through cross-disciplinary study of methodological and foundational issues. Preference here will be given to those who possess advanced education in a scientific discipline.

USS-SWC will be dedicated each year to an interdisciplinary topic and will consist of courses from four subject fields. Two or three leading scholars will be invited as lecturers in a two-week course of study that will take place each morning, while the afternoons will be devoted to related tutorials, seminars, and discussions, or to topics covered in special evening lecturers by renowned invited speakers.

As a joint activity of the Institute Vienna Circle and the University of Vienna, USS-SWC operates under the academic supervision of an international Programme Committee of distinguished historians, philosophers, and scientists who have the responsibility of determining the topic for each year and who will assist in securing financial support and academic credit for students from their home countries.

Interested students and scholars are requested to contact the IVC, preferably by eMail: or:


Cost of the Program: Euro 880.00
Lodging in students dormitories available at approximately Euro 425.00 for the whole duration of the course.

Applicants should submit:

  • a short educational curriculum vitae
  • a list of their most recent courses and grades or a copy of their diplomas
  • a one-page statement (in English), describing briefly their previous work and their purpose in attending USS-SWC
  • a (sealed) letter of recommendation by their major professor, including some comment on their previous work
  • a passport photo

The deadline for application is January 31, 2017.

The administration of USS-SWC at the University of Vienna can assist the candidates admitted in applying for funds and in the accreditation of the course, but unfortunately, cannot offer financial assistence. However, for a few gifted applicants who can demonstrate that, despite serious documented efforts, they have not been able to obtain any financial support, in particular due to economic difficulties in their respective country, a tuition-waver grant, awarded by the Institute Vienna Circle and the University of Vienna, will be provided.


Robert Cook-Deegan

Robert Cook-Deegan (aka BCD) is a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, and a researcher in ASU's Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes. He was previously the founding director of the Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy in Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, 2002- 2012, and remained at Duke through June 2016. He previously worked for eleven years at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, a year at the National Center for Human Genome Research at the National Institutes of Health and six years at the Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress. He got his MD from the University of Colorado in 1979 and his BA in chemistry (magna cum laude) from Harvard in 1975. He is the author of The Gene Wars: Science, Politics, and the Human Genome and an author of over 250 other publications.

Paul E. Griffiths

A philosopher of science with a focus on genetics and development, Paul Griffiths is Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney and a Domain Leader at the Charles Perkins Centre, a major research institute of the university devoted to interdisciplinary approaches to lifestyle-related disease. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. From 2011-13 he was President of the International Society for History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology. His publications include: (1997) What Emotions Really Are: The problem of psychological categories. Chicago, University of Chicago Press (1999). Sex and Death: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Biology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (with Kim Sterelny) (2013). Genetics and Philosophy: An introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press (with Karola Stotz)

Jenny Reardon

Jenny Reardon is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Science and Justice Research Center at University of California, Santa Cruz. She is also a Visiting Professor in the Department of Global Heath and Social Medicine at King's College in London. Her research draws into focus questions about identity, justice and democracy that are often silently embedded in scientific ideas and practices, particularly in modern genomic research. Her training spans molecular biology, the history of biology, science studies, feminist and critical race studies, and the sociology of science. She is the author of Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics (Princeton University Press, 2005) and The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome (forthcoming with Chicago University Press).

Genomics: Philosophy, Ethics and Policy

Genomics emerged as a term, and then as a field, in the late 1980s, tightly tethered to conceptions of the Human Genome Project. But its genealogical roots tap into molecular biology and genetics. This class addresses questions raised by this nascent field, ranging from the theoretical to the practical and political. While we will begin with questions of epistemology and ontology - e.g., reductionism; the status of genomics' theoretical entities (e.g., genes); the status and interpretation of genomic models - history and analysis of social issues will be fundamental from the start. In this sense, we will be guided by one of the genomics' main innovations: the field's powerful demonstration that practices for knowing and governing the world come into being together. The class explores cases where these co-productive processes can be seen and analyzed: debates over how and whether genomic analyses should be used to determine ancestry and race; the ascendance of genomics in parallel to commercial biotechnology; patenting and ownership of DNA molecules, methods, and data; and efforts to truly engage people in scientific and policy decisions about what is done with their data. It also will examine notions of 'the public understanding' of genetic causation, and how these notions fundamentally shape the constitution of genomic research. We end with questions about what direction we are going, and where we might instead like to go. We take our charge from Lao Tzu, who said: "If you don't change direction, you may end up where you're headed."

Specific Topics:

Identities of "the gene"
What is genetic information (a metaphor in search of a referent)?
What is genomics? A story of co-production
Race, difference, and genomics
Patents and ownership
Genomics amidst globalization and nation states
Beyond bioethics
Genomics and its public
The post-genomic world
Where are we headed?

USS-SWC and Vienna

Seen in this way, the important scientific movements, which until now had their common center of radiation in Vienna - psychoanalysis, the philosophy of the Vienna Circle, and Kelsen's legal and political philosophy - really belonged together and they determined the specific intellectual atmosphere of the Austria that vanished, just as did, in the artistic sphere, the authors Broch, Canetti and Musil.
(Gustav Bergmann, 1938)
The Vienna Circle not only constitutes one of the historical pillars which modern philosophy of science rests upon. It was also one among many modernist movements of interwar Vienna: from the arts, literature and music to Freud's and Wittgenstein's Vienna. Unlike other summer universities which are held in small villages USS-SWC's location - the former General Hospital and now the new University Campus - will enable students to discover these roots of urban culture and visit the sites of Vienna's artistic and architectural heritage.

University of Vienna

Founded in 1365 by Duke Rudolf IV of Habsburg, the Alma Mater Rudolphina Vindobonensis is the oldest university in the German-speaking world. About 95,000 students from 128 countries are currently enrolled at the university whose eight faculties offer 130 degree programs.

Today's university "head-quarters", which were erected in 1884 are situated in the main building on the Ringstrasse.

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