Call for applications

Ph.D. Course sponsored by Democracy as Idea and Practice: Cultural, Economic, and Evolutionary Perspectives on Global Challenges: Prospects and Perils of Radical Interdisciplinarity

Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN) and the Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), University of Oslo, are pleased to invite applications for the forthcoming doctoral course ‘Cultural, Economic, and Evolutionary Perspectives on Global Challenges: Prospects and Perils of Radical Interdisciplinarity'. The course will be at the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature, in Oslo, Norway, 28 September – 2 October, 2015.

The application deadline is 8 June 2015.  

Can new interdisciplinary work at the intersection of evolutionary biology, the social sciences, and the humanities help to understand and manage global challenges? This PhD-level course aims to use an evolutionarily-informed and interdisciplinary lens to take a critical look at contemporary global challenges, or ”crises”—climate change, the economic and poverty crises, public health, as well as various forms of cultural-political upheavals. The central aim will be to discover ways in which the combined insights from various disciplines, including evolutionary biology, cultural history, philosophy, political science, systems theory, and economics, can provide a better understanding of why such crises emerge and how they can be managed.


Questions to be addressed will include the following:

How can we explain the emergence of human society?

Can individual self-interest be reconciled with collective interests, and work for the public good?

How is large-scale cooperation possible? What makes human social groups function well?

What factors lead to breakdowns in cooperation?

How can principles of well-functioning groups be used to understand and remedy failures of cooperation?

What role should the sciences and humanities play in shaping public policy?



The course will be based on the lectures of leading international scholars in evolutionary science and their dialogue with Norwegian cultural historians, philosophers, political scientists, systems theorists, and economists.


Visiting Faculty:

David Sloan Wilson, Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences and Anthropology at Binghamton University and Arne Næss Professor at the University of Oslo in 2015.  His latest publications include Does Altruism Exist? (2014). David Sloan Wilson will be in residence at the University of Oslo as Arne Næss Chair in Global Justice and the Environment.

Robert Frank, the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management and Professor of Economics at Cornell University. Frank is known for his seminal study The Darwin Economy (2011) and for his columns in The New York Times.

Peter Turchin, Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. His publications include The War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires (2007).


Local Faculty:

Katharine Browne, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Novel Tech Ethics in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada and affiliated scholar at the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN) at the University of Oslo.

Dag Hessen, Professor of Biology at the University of Oslo, the author of many studies of ecosystems, especially in the Arctic regions.

Atle Midttun, Professor at the Institute of Economic Organization and Innovation at the Norwegian Business School (BI), Oslo. His latest publications include, Corporate Social Responsibility and Beyond (2013).

Ola T. Westengen, Associate Professor in agricultural development at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and an affiliated researcher at the Center for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo.

Nina Witoszek, cultural historian and Research Professor at the Center for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo. She is the author of, among others, The Origins of the Regime of Goodness: Remapping the Norwegian Cultural History (2012).


For more information about the course, the course programme, syllabus and application procedures, please visit the course website.

Published May 21, 2015 10:01 AM - Last modified May 21, 2015 10:01 AM