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The Human Body: Its Scope, Limits and Future

18 Oct, 2011

Human body logoWhat do shark’s teeth have to do with human enhancement? Or how about sea horses with reproductive technologies? Come along to Manchester Museum this autumn to find out!

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with curators there to develop a ‘Human Body Trail’ – a guided walk around the museum, scheduled as part of the Wellcome Trust’s 75th Anniversary celebrations.

The trail uses exhibits in the museum to encourage reflection and debate about changes to the human body that have happened over the last 75 years thanks to science and medicine, and stimulate the imagination about what could, should, and should not happen over the next 75.

This project is a little different from some of the other events that are taking place as part of the Trust’s festivities. Our team comprises two bioethicists and one sociologist – none of us are medical or life scientists – and we don’t necessarily view our trail as being there either to educate or excite people about science. Rather, what we want to encourage visitors to the museum to do is to think just a little more than they’re used to about the ethical and social aspects of biomedicine.

In particular, we hope that the trail will prompt people to engage with questions they might not otherwise have thought of, and help them to have confidence in their own ability to answer them. Science and medicine are social activities; a central part of society, they also affect our identities and social relationships. We all have a stake in science, and in the kinds of societies it helps to make.

As part of the Manchester Science Festival we’ll also be taking small groups around the trail, discussing in greater depth some of the developments the museum exhibits prompt us all to think about. If you fancy coming along, check out the following links:

Manchester Science Festival

University of Manchester Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation

Facebook event

Catherine Rhodes, Sarah Chan, and Martyn Pickersgill

Sarah Chan and Catherine Rhodes are Research Fellows in the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation, University of Manchester. Martyn Pickersgill is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

The Human Body Trail takes place at the Manchester Museum on 22 and 29 October. See the above links for more details.

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