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Public engagement with life extension (PhD studentships)

Posted Jan 07 2009 4:41pm

Andy Miah in the School of Media, Language and Music at the University of the West of Scotland is announcing two PhD studentships of great interest for biomedical museum and communication studies (unfortunately with a very tight deadline, viz. 12 January!)

1) Prospects of immortality: public engagement with biogerontology and life/health span expansion:

Due to its broad application to a number of other sciences, biogerontology is one of the most relevant fields of inquiry today. It speaks to the convergence of the NBIC sciences and to the redefinition of health care that arises by describing ageing as a disease to be cured, rather than a natural process to accept. Biogerontology engages us with the prospect of extending health or life span to an unknown degree and, as such, it is a controversial discipline. Over the last ten years, work in this area has shifted from scientific impossibility to becoming a core part of scientific endeavour. A range of media coverage, from aspersion to fascination, has accompanied this shift. In the literature on public understanding of science, there is no research yet attending to this distinct, but profound area of scientific inquiry. As such, this PhD studentship aims to explore the following questions:

    * How has biogerontology been articulated though the media?
    * What issues surround the political economy of research into life-extension?
    * How do different research communities orientate themselves around the various media narratives on life-extension?
    * How do journalists report research on biogerontology?
    * What can be learned from this subject area to broadly inform work into science communication?

2) The ethics of human enhancement in film:

Studies in the ethics of human enhancement have advanced considerably in the last five years through the emergence of new communities of scholarly inquiry. A number of scientific disciplines have been brought under the spotlight due to their likely use for lifestyle, non-therapeutic purposes. The connections between filmic narratives and bioethics are made manifest in recent cultural studies and can be linked to broader, literary origins. Yet, there is very little research that investigates the range of narratives that emerge on the ethics of human enhancement within film. This absence affects the degree of complexity that is brought to how such debates are played out in the media and in policy. This PhD explores the contribution of film to such imaginations and aims to add complexity to our understanding of how film conveys such alterations. It should also help us understand how film functions as a posthuman device of expressing humanly experiences, such as process of remembering, perceiving and the possible disruption of sensory encounters. It also aims to explore the limitations of cultural reference points within scientific policy making on the ethics of human enhancements, exploring the range of metaphors, analogies and stories that contribute to shaping the public understanding of science.

More here: http://www.uws.ac.uk/research/MediaStudentships.asp

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