Authors: Dominic Berry, Janella Baxter and Rob Smith
It is our great pleasure to welcome you to the Biological Engineering Collaboratory! This is an interdisciplinary network for scholars working in the history, philosophy and social studies of science, technology, and engineering, who have an interest in knowledge at intersections of biology and engineering. While there are many ways that one might be interested in biological engineering from the perspectives of history, philosophy, and science and technology studies, and many things that 'biological engineering' might be taken to be, the Collaboratory has emerged thanks to some more specific shared starting assumptions, which you can learn more about on the Introduction page.
This network has been brought to life thanks to some excellent feedback the three of us received at a recent meeting of ISH, which you can learn more about on our Events page. Of course, the recency of that event belies a much longer history of scholarly attention given to cases where biological knowledge and engineering knowledge meet, intersect, overlap, compete, and so on. One of the first resources we are planning on making is an annotated bibliography which will give you all a chance to see how the network Members are building on a diverse and dispersed range of scholarly work and the significant debts we all owe.
In building such a resource, and others like it, we hope to offer means for researchers to more collectively navigate the problem space, even as their distinct questions and approaches continue to distinguish them. We also of course hope to attract new people to these areas, offering starting points for future inquiry. This is a larger overall agenda for the network, one that we will pursue in a number of ways. We recognise that interest in questions concerning biological engineering in either the history, or philosophy, or social study of science, is relatively small. We are interested in seeing what happens when we work together. Interdisciplinary collaboration is therefore intended not only as a potential good in itself, but as a way to gather momentum around shared questions, create opportunities for more precise and better defined critical inquiry, all with the aim of pushing understanding of biology, engineering, and their significances in our respective fields, further forward.
One of our most important primary objectives is to win sufficient funding to host an international conference, so keep your eyes peeled for that kind of notification. We will be running a Twitter account, but not a mailing list (we think everyone gets enough emails). Anyone invested in the network should remember to send us news of their publications and planned talks or events so that we can include them on the site. We are also running a blog, so if you have a topic you’d like to write about (1000 words or thereabouts) do let us know.
Last, if you would be interested in becoming a member, please write to Dr Dominic Berry with a few lines explaining your interest. Please use what we have written on the Introduction page as a good starting point, to see if your interests really do coincide! Our contact details can be found on the Contact page.