The International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) brings together scholars from diverse disciplines, including the life sciences as well as history, philosophy, and social studies of science. The biennial ISHPSSB summer meetings are known for innovative, transdisciplinary sessions, and for fostering informal, co-operative exchanges and on-going collaborations.

Find here the current list of officers, executive council, and editorial board members.

Sean Valles
Sean Valles
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Email me for general ISHPSSB issues and enquiries
Trevor Pearce
Trevor Pearce
Email me suggestions for mailing list announcements
Michel Durinx
Michel Durinx
Email me with any website issues

This site is kept up-to-date by the Secretary, with help from the Newsletter Editor. The List-serv Editor maintains the ISHPSB-L mailing list. The Webmaster takes care of any technical issues.

The secretary is the ultimate arbiter of ISHPSSB content and can be contacted in all matters related to the society.

The educational committee has selected the following list of resources. If you want to suggest further items for inclusion, please write to the education committee.

Web Resources

The single most comprehensive gathering of online resources for the history and philosophy of biology is Roberta Millstein's amazing site.

For teaching about recent biological and biomedical developments in a "Science and Society" spirit, the websites related to the Wellcome Trust, and particularly the Wellcome blog, can be useful.

For teaching about the philosophy of biology, the best resource is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy — immensely useful for preparing lectures and building bibiliographies (and see Millstein's site above for a useful selection of its phil-bio articles).

Other sites of interest include:

Finally, note that Google searches on "syllabus in philosophy of biology" or "syllabus in history of biology" kick up a diversity of syllabi from which one can glean great material. It's not a "one-stop shopping" experience; but you can quickly compare and contrast different approaches.

General textbooks and anthologies in history, philosophy and social studies of biology

  • A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology, by Jim Endersby
  • A Companion to the Philosophy of Biology, by Sahotra Sarkar (editor) and Anya Plutynsky (editor)
  • Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology, by Francisco J. Ayala (editor) and Robert Arp (editor)
  • Evolution: The History of and Idea, by Peter J. Bowler
  • Philosophie der Biologie — Eine Einführung, by Ulrich Krohs and Georg Toepfer
  • Philosophy of Biology, by Brian Garvey
  • Philosophy of Biology, by Peter Godfrey-Smith
  • Philosophy of Biology, by Mohan Matthen (editor) and Christopher Stephens (editor)
  • Philosophy of Biology (2nd Edition), by Michael Ruse
  • Philosophy of Biology: A Contemporary Introduction, by Alex Rosenberg and Daniel W. McShea
  • Philosophy of Biology: An Anthology, by Alex Rosenberg (editor) and Robert Arp (editor)
  • Philosophy of Evolutionary Biology, by Stefan Linquist (editor)
  • The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought, by Michael Ruse (editor)
  • The Cambridge Companion to Darwin, 2nd edition, by M.J.S. Hodge (editor) and Gregory Radick (editor)
  • The Philosophy of Biology: An Episodic History, by Marjorie Grene and David Depew
  • The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators, by Kostas Kampourakis (editor)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology, by Michael Ruse (editor)
  • Understanding Evolution, by Kostas Kampourakis

Related Societies and Initiatives

The Society keeps a physical archive, which the archivist Pamela Henson takes care of. In addition, the Society has started to build up a web archive on this site.

If you have material available that is not represented here, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Some of the Past Meetings documentation, for instance, is missing, although there is more material awaiting inclusion in this website. Currently we have four different kinds of webarchive boxes: the Newsletter archive, the List-serv archive, the Past Meetings archive and the Operations archive.

Newsletter Archive

All available newsletters, in PDF and webpage format, are available on the News page.

These have been ported here from various HTML formats, from previous incarnations of this website. The layout may therefore be variable, and for example internal (and external, of course) hyperlinks may have broken.

Listserv News Archive

A full archive of the monthly distributed listserv announcements (but without index), 1997–present and separated by month, is available here. This archive includes both official ISHPSSB announcements and shorter versions of unofficial announcements from other organizations and individuals.

Alternatively, that archive can be searched for words and substrings (like ‘chem’ matching both ‘alchemy’ and ‘biochemical’), in either only post titles or full post, and optionally narrowed by before/after dates and by post author name. Your mileage may vary, as unmaintained hyperlinks will break over time, especially for event websites.

Past Meetings Archive 

Programmes and abstracts of past meetings as available.

Operations Archive

A currently still rather mixed bag of information related to the operations of the society (e.g. a list of past meetings and officers, some accepted motions, older committee reports) on our operations page.

The Society has biennial meetings as well as off-year workshops, and offers student travel support for both types of events.

Biennial Meetings

The biennial gathering of the ISHPSSB is its main raison d'être: The Society was founded with the aim of organising a conference bringing together current research on biology as a discipline. In the year before a general meeting, bids are sought for hosting the next edition, and the Site Selection Committee announces the winning bid during the General Assembly of the Meeting. Scroll down for the meetings archive as available.

ISHPSSB2017 Inst BiosciencesISHPSSB Meeting 2017: July 16-21 in São Paulo, Brazil

We are deeply involved with the development of the ISHPSSB 2017 website ( Now we have a functional site, to which we will progressively add all the relevant information. Please visit it and start checking what we are preparing for next year. We particularly recommend that you check the “General information” and “Plan your trip” sections. In the latter, you will find important information about the Visa requirements, in case you need it to visit Brazil.

Meanwhile, we have been working to seek partnerships with prestigious Brazilian scientific institutions to support the meeting, and we have already made agreements with the Butantan Institute and the Brazilian Society of Genetics (SBG).

Created in 1901, the Butantan Institute is the main Brazilian producer of immunobiological products for public health purposes and is responsible for the majority of vaccines and sera produced in the country through its Technological Development and Production Division. The Cultural Development Center of the Institute sustains the Special Laboratory for the History of Science (LEHC), giving continuing education courses on the history of sanitary practices and publishing the journal Cadernos de História da Ciência (Notebooks on History of Science), available only in Portuguese. Besides that, the Institute develops studies and basic research in 17 different fields of Biology and Biomedicine directly or indirectly related to public health.

The Butantan Institute is located within the
campus of the
University of São Paulo. Together with the
LEHC team, we are
planning cooperation and some activities for the ISHPSSB attendants, such as guided visits to the scientific zoological collections and to its four Museums—Biological, Historical, of Microbiology and the Emilio Ribas Public Health Museum. To learn more about the Butantan Institute, please visit its website (

The Brazilian Society of Genetics (SBG) was founded in 1 955 at Campinas, São Paulo, in a session chaired by the geneticist Frederico Gustavo Brieger. Besides its annual meetings, the society publishes the journal Genetics and Molecular Biology and Genética na Escola (Genetics in the School). The latter journal aims to disseminate educational experiences in the field of genetics, to provide reflections on genetic concepts, to discuss developments in technology related to the quality of life of the population, as well as to provide materials for classroom work, including the use of historical and philosophical approaches to the fields of Genetics, Molecular Biology and related areas.

SBG will support the ISHPSSB 2017 Meeting, assisting with advertising of the congress and promoting exchanges with its affiliates working with historical and/or philosophical references (as distinguished from theoretical or empirical genetic research itself). To learn more about SBG, please visit the website ( only in Portuguese).

The Local Organizing Committee is looking forward to see you all in São Paulo!

Maria Elice Prestes, Charbel El-Hani and Roberto de Andrade Martins

Chairs of Program and Local Arrangements Committees

ishpssb 2015 montreal 150x1502015 Meeting: Montréal

The 2015 meeting took place in Montréal, on the main campus of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQàM). It was the largest meeting yet, with over 530 papers and 640 delegates from over 35 countries.

For programme details, practical info, and a post-Meeting report, please read the archival article of Montréal 2015

Minutes of the 2015 General Member Meeting, July 9, 2015

Off-Year Workshops

Given the two-year ISHPSSB cycle, in even-numbered years a small number of events may carry the ISHPSSB name. The general parameters of, and how to submit proposals for, such events are detailed in the article on the Off-year Workshop Committee. The deadline for such proposals falls before Christmas following each biennial Meeting.

The information for the two 2016 Off-Year Workshops can be found here.

Student Travel Support

ISHPSSB supports graduate student participation in our biennial meetings as well as off-year workshops. The Travel Support Committee administers ISHPSSB Travel Awards, which are currently funded by ISHPSSB and, for US citizens and students at US institutions, by the NSF via a grant to the 8 Societies. Any donations to the ISHPSSB travel fund are gratefully received by the next generation of scholars of biology!

The society has the financial means to support only a portion of students' travel costs. Travel costs include transportation expenses such as airfare, gas or mileage, but do not include other types of expenses such as conference registration, lodging and meals. Award amounts will depend on the total amount of funding available to ISHPSSB, the relative cost of travel between the students' locations and conference site, and the ability of applicants to access additional resources. For recent previous meetings, award amounts ranged from USD 50 to USD 1000, and averaged about USD 300. This represented one-half to two-thirds of travel costs that remained for students once their institutional funds had been applied.

Application forms for ISHPSSB 2017 Travel Awards are available here.

Past Meetings

Past Biennial Meetings

Below is all accessible data from past meetings. If you have (more detailed, preferably HTML) programmes not provided there, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Past Off-Year Workshops

We will soon provide here information on past off-year workshops.

The Society has three main channels for spreading news items of interest to its members: The announcements on the website frontpage, the ISHPSSB-L mailing list (1997–present), and the twice-yearly newsletter (1995–present).

You can join our Facebook group to keep up with current events.

A Twitter account has been claimed (as of Fall 2015), but is not used as yet.

Current Announcements

ISHPSSB Listserv mailing list

The ISHPSSB listserv is a moderated email list. Those who subscribe receive announcements of interest to the Society's members, made on as-needed basis, with a frequency of about once per month. Subscribers to the listserv receive the emailed announcements as brief descriptions of each item, together with a link for each to a webpage where further information can be found.

Posting to the Listserv

If you would like your announcement to be included in the next posting to the listserv, include your announcement in an email to Trevor Pearce at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We welcome any items that would be of interest to Society members: position announcements, postdoctoral announcements, grant and funding opportunities, conference announcements, calls for papers, calls for applications to postgrad training events (summer/winter schools), book announcements, or brief queries on research topics.

Note on postings

The sooner you send your announcement to the moderator, the more likely that it will be posted before its deadline!

Joining the Listserv

To subscribe, unsubscribe, or alter you subscription settings, click here.

Listserv news archive

To find your way to the items in the archive, click here.

ISHPSSB Newsletter

The Society publishes a newsletter twice per year, once in the spring and once in the fall. In contrast to the Listserv-News, it consists almost entirely of statements and reports from the various committees that keep ISHPSSB running. The newsletter traditionally includes also a section written by the president, directly addressed to the society's members. It is the perfect place to look for the outcomes of past events, including meetings and off-year workshops, as well as to learn about society's current state, recent concerns, and the future plans.

The newsletter is edited by David Suarez. Suggestions for the Newsletter should be sent to the Secretary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Scroll down for the past newsletters in both HTML and PDF formats.

HTML version