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Wonderments of Cosmos: a Trans-Disciplinary Conversation on Cosmological Horizons

2-6pm, Friday, 21 June 2013

Daryll Forde Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, UCL Anthropology, 14 Taviton Street

A UCL Grand Challenge of Intercultural Interaction workshop, convened by Martin Holbraad, Reader in Social Anthropology, Department of Anthropology

  • Unique opportunity to engage with the latest cosmology research at UCL
  • 25 places are available for UCL academics and research students (PhD and MRes)
  • Programme and speakers

    Register here

Questions about the origins and contours of the universe and human beings’ position within it are capturing the public’s imagination as never before. The Big Bang on the BBC, CERN and God particles colliding across the press, Stephen Hawking in the opening ceremony of the London Paralympics: all would indicate that ‘the cosmos is cool again’, as the Guardian put it recently. Yet the attention commanded by research in astrophysics can be seen as a contemporary expression of a broader human impulse to wonder at the cosmos, conceived as the ultimate horizon of human existence. Across history and cultures, people have reckoned with their own position in the universe, and articulated their wonderment through varied elite or popular forms of knowledge and expression, including a variety of cosmologically-oriented traditions of scientific endeavour, mythology and theology, as well as varied forms of artistic creation.

Sponsored by the UCL Grand Challenge of Intercultural Interaction, this half-day workshop brings together scholars from across UCL to present the different ways in which their work engages with the wonderments of cosmos, and explore how these may speak to each other. How far might different approaches to cosmology provide the scope for a genuine cross-disciplinary conversation? How does the scientific study of the cosmos relate to the ways in which its wonders have been engaged in other fields, across history and in different cultural settings? How far might a shared interest in cosmology and questions of ultimate horizons cast in a new light age-old debates about the relationship between science, religion and art? And how far might it serve to re-cast or even re-negotiate the boundaries between the proverbial ‘two cultures’ of the sciences and the humanities?

The workshop will comprise a number of short presentations by UCL staff working in the natural sciences, social sciences and arts & humanities, followed by a roundtable discussion of the scope and challenges of cross-disciplinary collaboration in this field.

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