"Reduction, Emergence, and Essence"
ISN Summer Seminar 2009: Details

Application details below.

What: The Summer Seminar is four days of study and dialog to explore questions of science, natural philosophy, and their intersection: the efficacy of reduction, the appeal of emergence, and the necessity of postulating essences. The course spans from the beginnings of science in the ancient Greeks, through the early moderns like Newton and Descartes to more recent modern results that have signaled a rebirth of interest in the notion of emergence.

In order to maximize the value of the week, students will be expected to read and assimilate approximately 250 pages of materials from scientific, philosophical sources, both modern and classical in the months leading up to the Summer Seminar. Careful reading of the materials in advance will vastly increase the value and quality of the Seminar for all concerned. Those readings will be posted on the Seminar Plan and Schedule page by March 2, 2009.

Who: Approximately 20-40 graduate and advanced undergraduate students currently studying within a modern scientific discipline or related fields. Post-docs and young (at heart) scientists are also welcome. Applications from students in other disciplines with a deep interest in science, history and philosophy of science, and/or natural philosophy will be seriously considered.

Tutors: ISN Fellows Michael Augros, Lee Perlman, Joseph Audie, James Barham, John Keck, Mark Ryland, and Bernhardt Trout, as well as James Navarro; other lecturers and guest speakers TBA.

When: The Summer Seminar begins on Monday afternoon, June 15th, at 3:00pm, and ends on Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm. Students are encouraged to stay and participate in the Summer Conference, which will bring together a number of scientists and philosophers around a theme related to the Seminar.

Where: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, will provide space for the Seminar. Information about travel to and around Cambridge can be found on the Conference logistics page.

How: The fee for the Summer Seminar and Conference is $200. Board will cost $175 and includes lunch and dinner for the week and at least one special group dinner at a nearby restaurant. Room rates are set by MIT and have not yet been posted. They are expected to approximate last year’s rates, which means six nights in a single room will cost about $336, and in a double about $234.

The fee and room and board costs can be reduced or waived on show of need. Students are expected to cover their own travel expenses, but exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, there are…

Scholarships: Three Honor Scholarships will be awarded that include full tuition, room, and board. The scholarship application consists of the standard Seminar application ensemble, plus a basic five-paragraph-style essay, not to exceed three pages in length, addressing the following questions:

Why is analysis into parts such a successful strategy for understanding natural things? What are the limits of this strategy?

The essays will be judged on clarity and thoroughness of reasoning, not on the particular conclusion reached.

To Apply

In addition to the full Summer Seminar application package (Adobe PDF), you may download the simple application document in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF formats, and preferably email us (jkeck [ at ] isnature.org) a filled-out Word document (or else fax the filled-out PDF). (Please include your last name in the filename of the document.)

Final deadline for all applications (including scholarship essays) is Monday, March 16th, 2009. A discount of $50 off tuition for applications received by the initial deadline of Monday, February 23.

Questions: Contact John Keck, Director of the ISN. Look here for an overview of the Summer Seminar.


This page last updated on March 21, 2009