UMSL hosts conference on 'consilience' | St. Louis Public Radio

UMSL hosts conference on 'consilience'

Apr 25, 2012

The University of Missouri-Saint Louis is hosting a conference on “consilience.”

UMSL evolutionary ecologist Patty Parker says consilience is the idea that certain universal concepts hold true across disciplines, from biology to the social sciences to the humanities.

“Why do we think like we do, why do we appreciate art, why do we have religion,” Parker said. “And there are these common themes that have emerged as you look across disciplines that address each of those things.”

Parker says one of the topics to be discussed at the conference is the role of evolutionary theory in explaining human behavior and culture.

She says she and the other conference organizers sought out speakers from a range of academic fields.

“Six people representing biology, six people representing humanities, six people representing social sciences, so we have these 18 major speakers, and three of them, one representing each of those disciplines, will speak in each half-day.”

The conference keynote speaker is ecologist Edward O. Wilson, who pioneered the field of sociobiology.

The conference starts on Thursday and runs through this Saturday.