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Event Details

43rd AWTB
Altenberg Workshop
The Waddingtonian Landscape: Rediscovering Conrad Hal Waddington’s Legacies in Biology and Beyond
43rd Altenberg Workshop in Theoretical Biology
2025-06-17 12:00 - 2025-06-20 12:00
Organized by Alejandro Fabrega Tejeda (KU Leuven) & Francisco Vergara-Silva (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

The British embryologist and geneticist Conrad Hal Waddington is celebrated in biological historiography and contemporary scientific practice for his theoretical and conceptual contributions to fields like systems biology, epigenetics, and evolutionary developmental biology. Recent years have borne witness to a burgeoning meta-scientific interest in  Waddington, as historians and philosophers have begun to scrutinize diverse facets of his oeuvre. These important investigations notwithstanding, the expansive scope of Waddington’s body of work remains underexplored. His extensive repertoire of research undertakings spans a wide spectrum, addressing topics such as the interplay between science and ethics, the intersections of visual arts and scientific inquiry, the nature and evolution of cognition and agency, theoretical tools for systemic thinking and societal problem-solving, the environmental consequences of human activities, and the “science of human settlements” (Ekistics). As we approach the 50th anniversary of Waddington's passing in 2025, the occasion becomes ripe for embarking on a systematic exploration of his manifold legacies, his influences and shortcomings, his socio-cultural and institutional arenas, his interdisciplinary network of interlocutors across the natural and social sciences, the arts and the humanities, and the enduring resonance of his ideas within and outside the life sciences. This workshop aims to gather a group of 15 philosophers and historians hailing from diverse backgrounds to offer the first interdisciplinary re-appraisal of Waddington’s life-long contributions over two and a half days of activities.