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Case Studies

The following projects are funded under the Science and Culture theme.

Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries

  • Professor Sally Shuttleworth, University of Oxford

The project will bring together historical and literary research in the nineteenth century with contemporary scientific practice, looking at the ways in which patterns of popular communication and engagement in nineteenth-century science can offer models for current practice. Constructing Scientific Communities case study (PDF, 967KB)

Rethinking the Senses: Uniting the Philosophy and Neuroscience of Perception

  • Professor Colin Blakemore, University of London

Philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists have always shared an interest in the senses, with vision often being their primary concern. The recent rise of interest in the other senses, and even more so in their interaction, is attracting the attention of researchers in diverse fields. This shift towards the study of multisensory experience requires an entirely new framework, to which the humanities and the sciences need to contribute. Rethinking the Senses case study (PDF, 925KB)

Cultural and Scientific Perception of Human-Chicken Interactions

  • Dr Mark Maltby, Bournemouth University

This project aims to unite scholars from different disciplines, members of the public, interest groups and school children through the study of the chicken, an under-researched species that has the potential to provide vital information about the past, present and future of human society. Cultural and Scientific Perception of Human-Chicken Interaction (PDF, 1.2MB)

Beckett and Brain Science

  • Dr Elizabeth Barry, University of Warwick

This project focused on exploring the application of the work of Samuel Beckett to understanding mental and neurological disorders, and to challenging the traditional narratives used in art and medicine to describe them. This was a collaborative project involving literary and theatrical scholars and clinicians and researchers in psychiatry and neuroscience. Beckett and Brain Science case study (PDF, 1.2MB)

The Value of the Literary and Historical Study of Biology to Biologists

  • Professor Nicholas Battey

This project set out to look at whether humanities research on biology, particularly within history and literature, is seen as valuable and interesting to working biologists. Through a successful workshop, links were established and extended with 16 universities, two schools, a research institute, two museums and a research journal. Value of Literary and Historical Study case study (PDF, 1.3MB)

Neuroscience and the Law - Free will, responsibility and punishment

  • Professor Helen Beebee, University of London

This project focused on bringing together academics to debate the effect that recent advances in neuroscience may have on legal matters, especially with regard to legal and moral responsibility. A large part of the purpose of this project was to identify and begin to forge collaborative relationships between lawyers, philosophers and neuroscientists interested in questions of responsibility. Neuroscience and the Law case study (PDF, 1.2MB)

An initial intermedial study of science on television and in museums 1945-1970

  • Dr Tim Boon, Science Museum

This project examined television programmes and Science Museum displays of science and technology in the 1950s and 1960s – a time when TV came to dominate public communication of science. The research found that the Science Museum played a significant part in making sciences and technology public in the period. Science on television and in museums case study (PDF, 855KB)

Learning from science communication's past - A historically informed approach to reciprocity, citizenship and diversity in a social contract for science

  • Professor Graeme Gooday, University of Leeds

This project examined the subject of science communication and what can be learned from science communication’s past. The research found that a number of intersecting areas of research across humanities, arts, science communication, social sciences and science education can beneficially be brought together in order to work effectively and closely with colleagues in the sciences. Science communication's past case study (PDF, 1.4MB)

Beyond the Gene - Epigenetic Science in 21st Century Culture

  • Professor Clare Hanson, University of Southampton

A team of researchers drawn from the humanities and the biomedical sciences have been exploring the implications of moving beyond the genetic model of inheritance to focus on the shift that is taking place as we are discovering that fixed genetic inheritance plays a relatively small part in making us ‘who we are’. Beyond the Gene case study (PDF, 468KB)

Banking (On The Brain) - The Neurological Culture, Law and Science

  • Dr Shawn Harmon, University of Edinburgh

This project focused on questions relating to conceptions of the brain embedded within brain bank practice, the impacts of these on law, and the legal and cultural traction of the knowledge produced by brain banking. The investigators found that despite the significance of issues and concerns between brain banks and other types of biobanks, dialogue about the ethical, legal and cultural aspects and implications of the work in these domains remains limited. Banking (on the Brain) case study (PDF, 1.2MB)

Structure in Chemistry - A Preliminary Investigation

  • Dr Robin Hendry - Durham University

This project looks at the subject of molecular structure in chemistry and its quantum mechanical basis. The project brought together philosophers and scientists who discussed these ideas at international workshops. In doing so the project has raised awareness of philosophy of science among chemists and of foundational issues in chemistry among philosophers of science. Structure in Chemistry case study (PDF, 1.3MB)

The role of imaginative literature in clinicians' professional lives - Towards a randomised controlled study

  • Professor Brian Hurwitz, King's College London

A Science in Culture Exploratory award enabled this project team to hold two interdisciplinary workshops to consider methodological obstacles to measuring the impact of collective literary study on clinicians’ professional lives. Participants including literary scholars, academic specialists and health practitioners took part in the study which reached two major sets of findings on the subject. Role of imaginative literature in clinicians' professional lives case study (PDF, 1.3MB)

Nature, Culture, Conservation - History of science as an integrative framework for analysis of research on environmental problems 1950-2010

  • Dr J. Andrew Mendelsohn, Imperial College London

This project team undertook a historical survey of multiple disciplinary research on problems of the environment which has generated the beginnings of a synthetic empirical basis for working out how cooperation between the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities can fruitfully be undertaken in the future. Nature, Culture, Conservation case study (PDF, 1.2MB)

Representing and communicating uncertainty - Climate change and risk

  • Professor Sarah Metcalfe, University of Nottingham

This project focused on exploring and developing the vocabulary of climate change. The investigators found that the vocabulary used to describe uncertainty associated with climate change is not consistent, even within academia, which can lead to misunderstandings or misconceptions. Through workshops the project brought together people from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, including engineering, mathematics, sociology and physical and human geography. Representing and communicating uncertainty case study (PDF, 1.4MB)

Debating the first principles of transcultural psychiatry

  • Dr Gavin Miller, University of Glasgow

This project focused on promoting discussion around cultural factors in the cause, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. Though grounded in the field of transcultural psychiatry, this project involved interaction and collaboration between various disciplines. These include social anthropology, history, geography, medical humanities, literary & cultural studies, philosophy, psychiatry and clinical psychology. First principles of transcultural psychiatry (PDF, 1MB)

Sloane's Treasures - A cultural and scientific exploration of the research potential of Sir Hans Sloane's collections

  • Dr Kim Sloan, British Museum

This AHRC Science in Culture Exploratory Award project has been looking at ways of making available the collections of Sir Hans Sloane – one of the most important collectors of the 17th and 18th centuries whose collection became the foundation of the British Museum, Natural History Museum and British Library. Sloane's Treasures case study (PDF, 1.3MB)

Evaluating Scientific Realism - A New Generation of Historical Case Studies

  • Dr Peter Vickers, Durham University

This project looked to address a very specific popular ‘scientific realist position’, which claims that when a scientific theory brings about substantial scientific successes, then the elements of that theory which did the work to bring about those successes are very likely at least approximately true. Through the project an important relationship has developed between the philosophy and physics departments at Durham University. Evaluating Scientific Realism case study (PDF, 1.4MB)

Mechanisms and the evidence hierarchy

  • Professor Jon Williamson, University of Kent

This project focused on Evidence-Based Medicine. One of the main strands of the project explored the consequences of recent work in the philosophy of causality and history of medicine for the key question of whether mechanisms should have a place in the evidence hierarchy. The investigators collaborated with numerous scientists and policy makers. Mechanisms and the evidence hierarchy (PDF, 1.5MB)