Emerging Scholar Workshops on Society and Astrobiology, CTI Princeton

Super excited about being in Princeton and taking part in the Questing for Life: Emerging Scholar Workshops on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology at the Center of Theological Inquiry, CTI.

Supported by a grant from the NASA Astrobiology Program and the Templeton Foundation, the 2016/2017 Center’s Inquiry on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology aims to engage the humanities, social sciences, philosophy, and theology with current science exploring the origins and extent of life in the universe.

The workshop Questing for Life: Emerging Scholar Workshops on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology (June 13-16, 2017) focuses on the joint contributions of the sciences and humanities.

More information about the event was published in the Fresh Thinking Magazine: Issue 1 (2018)

About the workshop

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. 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.

Astrobiology White Paper poster presented at NASA AbSciCon 2017

… and the second AbSciCon 2017 poster ‘Astrobiology and Society. A White Paper on Societal Implications of Astrobiology Research in Europe Today’ by Klara Anna Capova, David Dunér, and Erik Persson is also available online: www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/abscicon2017/eposter/3159.pdf

Abstract

ASTROBIOLOGY AND SOCIETY IN EUROPE TODAY. THE WHITE PAPER ON SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS OF ASTROBIOLOGY RESEARCH IN EUROPEAN CONTEXT
Klara Anna Capova*1, David Duner2, Erik Persson3,4

1 Department of Anthropology, Durham University, UK, Email: k.a.capova@durham.ac.uk
2 Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden
3 Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, USA Email: erik.persson@fil.lu.se
4 The Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies, Lund University, Sweden

The poster presents recent work of Working Group 5 Philosophy and History of Science, is a Trans Domain European COST Action Life-ORIGINS TD1308 and introduces the latest draft of the White Paper on societal implications of astrobiology research in European context, ‘Astrobiology and Society in Europe Today.’ The poster provides overview of sections related to contributions of astrobiology to society, advancement of science in Europe, environmental protection and the quest for sustainability, as well as societal challenges from astrobiology, and potential conflicts of interest between astrobiology and commercial use of space. Furthermore, it will illustrate the contemporary perceptions of astrobiology by general public and the timely role of an organised initiative in astrobiology education and popularisation of science.

Students’ Attitudes to Astrobiology poster presented at NASA AbSciCon 2017

The first poster entitled ‘Students’ Attitudes to Astrobiology. Attitudes towards scientific search for extraterrestrial life among Swedish high school and university students’ by Erik Persson, Klara Anna Capova, and Yuan will be presented later today at the AbSciCon 2017.

E-poster is available online: www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/abscicon2017/eposter/3156.pdf

Abstract

STUDENTS ATTITUDES TO ASTROBIOLOGY. ATTITUDES TOWARDS SCIENTIFIC SEARCH FOR EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL LIFE AMONG SWEDISH HIGH SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Erik Persson1,2, Klara Anna Capova*3, and Yuan Li4,

1 Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, USA Email: erik.persson@fil.lu.se
2 The Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies, Lund University, Sweden
3 Department of Anthropology, Durham University, UK, Email: k.a.capova@durham.ac.uk
4 Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden

The paper presents results of a recent study looking into the attitudes towards the scientific search for extra-terrestrial life among high school and university students in Sweden. The analysis has revealed that (a) the great majority of students believe that extra-terrestrial life exists; (b) most students regard searching for extra-terrestrial life to be fairly important; (c) very few students think that searching for extra-terrestrial life is something we should actively avoid; (d) the most common motive for assigning a high priority to search for extra-terrestrial life, is that it is interesting; and the most common motive for assigning a low priority is the opinion that such knowledge would not be practically useful or that the money would be better spent elsewhere; (e) most students do not think they are very well informed regarding the search for extra-terrestrial life. At the same time, however, a higher percentage of the students who judge themselves to be well informed also believe that extra-terrestrial life exists. We have also found some differences between sub-groups (men/women, high school students/university students and different fields of study), but the differences are with few exceptions small in comparison to the overall trends, and typically matters of degree rather than direction.

Astrobiology Conference AbSciCon 2017 in Mesa, Arizona

Excited to be at the Astrobiology Conference AbSciCon 2017 in Mesa, Arizona and ready to present my recent work during the poster session. Many thanks to the Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies, Lund University for making this trip possible. A PDF of the AbSciCon Program is available online.

Conference Information
AbSciCon 2017 is the next in a series of conferences organized by the astrobiology community. The theme for AbSciCon 2017 is “Diverse Life and its Detection on Different Worlds.” Mars and icy worlds in our solar system are increasingly recognized as habitable, even as increasing numbers of exoplanets in their stars’ habitable zones have been discovered. The focus is shifting from identification of habitable worlds, to detection of life on them.

NASA History Program Office’s Quarterly Newsletter: Second Quarter 2013

nasa-history-office-report-capovaThe NASA History Program Office’s Quarterly Notes & News published in 2013, Volume 30, Number 2.

The Sound of Space workshop report ‘The Sonic Dimension of Outer Space, 1940–1980’ including a note about my presentation is available from the News & Notes: the NASA History Program Office’s Quarterly Newsletter.

NASA Astrobiology Conference 2012: Abstract and Poster

The poster abstract ‘The Detection of Extraterrestrial Life – Are We Ready?’ for AbSciCon – NASA Astrobiology Science Conference 2012: Exploring Life: Past and Present, Near and Far is available online.

Abstract Body: The paper offers a novel perspective on the scientific search for life beyond Earth, based on the ‘outsiders’ point of view approach that anthropology of sciences has proposed. It sheds light on the ways in which alien life is imagined and theorised in order to assess the possible reaction of scientific community and general opinion to the detection of other life forms.

The papers is based on the findings of my PhD research that conceptualises the extraterrestrial life hypothesis as a significant part of the general world-view, constantly shaped by the work and discoveries of science. It draws from the ethnographic fieldwork conducted over two years in the UK that combined interviews with scientists (astrobiologists, physicists, and astronomers) with data collected from the global ‘online’ community. On the base of this data, the paper offers an insight into the current concepts of other life as understood, perceived, and interpreted by the scientific community and popular culture. Go to AbSciCon NASA website to continue reading …