Ethics & Astrobiology Reading Group

December 06, 2021


The Ethics and Astrobiology Reading Group is a humanities-focused component of UCSC's larger Astrobiology Initiative, whose goal is to produce an interdisciplinary research team dedicated to the study of the origin, evolution, and prevalence of life in the universe.

The Astrobiology Initiative's scientific research has its roots in the origin of life, planetary and atmospheric science, instrument development, and analysis of recently observed exoplanets. Research in this field demands reconciliation between a galactic scope of inquiry and humans’ hyper-local, terrestrial starting point. The orders of magnitude that separate these two scales offer a uniquely generative opportunity for humanistic attention to the ambiguities between the human experience and the edge of scientific inquiry. To explore these questions, the Ethics and Astrobiology Reading Group reads and discusses written works that both illuminate and resist straightforward empiricism and which emphasize the possibilities and dangers of consensus in the sciences.

The Ethics and Astrobiology Reading Group serves as a forum where UCSC’s most brilliant minds in the arts, humanities, and sciences can share their perspectives on topics that are relevant to the field of astrobiology, but which scientific inquiry alone cannot fully illuminate. Grounded in literature and the humanities, this group asks the ethical questions raised by the conduct and application of universe-altering research in the fields of astrobiology and planetary sciences, and solidifies long-term grant funding for humanities and arts collaborations within the Astrobiology Initiative.

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