Thursday February 22nd 2007, 5.00 pm, Rothermere American Institute
1A South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3TG
Transatlantic Dialogue in Public Policy, “Science and Society: The Two Cultures Debate Revisited”
Professor Carl Djerassi, Stanford University, Professor of Chemistry Emeritus, author and playwright
Dr Evan Harris, MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Science and Member of the House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee
Drinks reception to follow
This event is free and open to everyone, no registration necessary
In The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, his 1959 Rede Lecture at Cambridge, C. P. Snow argued that the mutual suspicions between practitioners of science and the humanities, and various forms of mutual ignorance between these parties, had served to undermine the status and value of public culture in Britain and the wider world. Fifty years after Snow’s famous polemic, problems surrounding the public understanding of science are, if anything, even more acute. Radical advances in medicine and genetics have disturbed traditional understandings of human identity and religion; issues around genetically modified crops and nuclear energy have proved very controversial among environmentalists; new biometric technologies have raised fears about civil liberties in relation to the increasing power of the security state.
This debate will bring together two public intellectuals concerned with the issue of how scientists are perceived by the world in the twenty-first century, and the ways in which the discourses of science and civic politics are converging or diverging. Evan Harris, MP, trained in hospital medicine and has a long-standing interest in issues surrounding medical ethics and civil liberties. Carl Djerassi is best known for his contribution to the invention of the oral contraceptive pill in 1951, but has also long been concerned with the ethical implications of modern scientific research. For more information on his work, see his personal website:
Copies of Carl Djerassi’s novels Menachem’s Seed (1997) and No (1998) will be available free of charge to those attending this dialogue.
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