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Philomathia Forum: Professor Alison Bashford, 'Julian Huxley's Reproductive Futures'

When May 23, 2016
from 05:00 PM to 06:30 PM
Where Bentley Room, Pitt Building, Trumpington Street CB2 1RP
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Philomathia Forum

As part of the Forum 'Changing fertility: social, demographic and ethical consequences of assisted conception technologies', Professor Alison Bashford, will speak on 'Julian Huxley's Reproductive Futures'.

If the futures of assisted reproductive technologies are being created now, our own present was created by past generations. This is both strange and sobering, given how swiftly ideas, technologies, needs and desires change. Retrospects as well as prospects are important. In this lecture I consider the reproductive futures envisioned by one of the twentieth-century’s most intriguing polymath-biologists, Julian Huxley. Author of Evolution: the Modern Synthesis, inventor of the term ‘transhumanism’, first Director-General of UNESCO, Huxley synthesised and communicated the work of the great geneticists, molecular biologists and reproductive physiologists of the day. Many of them (Crick, Pincus, Lederberg, Muller) met at a conference in 1963, “Man and his Future”. This lecture focuses on this meeting, one that opened with Huxley’s visions for the “biological future of mankind”. In 1963, the future hinged on assisted reproductive technologies as a solution, but not on infertility as a problem.

Alison Bashford is Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, and Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. Most recently, she is author of Global Population: History, Geopolitics and Life on Earth (Columbia, 2014) and co-author, with Joyce E. Chaplin, of The New Worlds of Thomas Robert Malthus: Re-reading the Principle of Population (Princeton, 2016).


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History of Wealth Project

This project, co-funded by the Philomathia Foundation and the Isaac Newton Trust, investigates the broader significance of wealth an inheritance in 19th and early-20th century Britain.

This programme was launched by POLIS in October 2013, and aims to train future policy-makers to value and promote evidence-based policies that can most benefit society.