January 9, 2015 Kluge Center Announces Blumberg Dialogues on Astrobiology

First of Series Occurs March 18-19

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jason Steinhauer (202) 707-0213 or Dan Turello (202) 707-0297

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in 2015 will hold a series of seminars and public dialogues on the topic of astrobiology.

The three-part series, part of the Kluge Center’s ongoing Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Astrobiology Program, will convene scientists, social scientists, humanities scholars and writers from across the country and around the world to investigate the intersection of astrobiology research with humanistic and societal concerns.

'This exciting series of private and public dialogues is an opportunity to widen the conversation on astrobiology and more deeply explore its potential effects on human self-understanding,” said Kluge Center Director Jane McAuliffe. “We’re delighted to continue our cooperation with NASA to promote reflection and dialogue on the possible implications of the search for life beyond our planet, guided by the humanistic insights that can be gleaned from Library of Congress collections and resources.”

The series—titled Blumberg Dialogues in honor of late Nobel Laureate Baruch “Barry” Blumberg, founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and former member of the Library of Congress Scholars Council—will be held in lieu of an appointment to the NASA/Library of Congress Astrobiology Chair in 2015. A senior scholar position at the Kluge Center, the Astrobiology Chair has been filled for the past two years through an annual competition process managed by the center. An appointment for 2016 will be made; those applications are currently under review.

The first of the three Blumberg Dialogues will occur Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19. Selected scholars will be invited to participate in the two-day seminar focused on astrobiology research and its implications for Eastern and Western religions and philosophies. The afternoon of the second day will feature a public dialogue hosted by the Kluge Center on issues raised during the seminar and featuring several of the participating scholars.

The public event will be free and no reservations will be needed. Further information will be posted at a later date at www.loc.gov/kluge/.

The remaining two seminars will occur later in the year. The seminars will be led by Derek Malone-France, associate professor in the departments of philosophy and religion at The George Washington University, and John Baross, professor in the School of Oceanography and in the Astrobiology Program at the University of Washington.

The Astrobiology Chair and the Blumberg Dialogues are the result of collaboration between the NASA Astrobiology Program and the Library of Congress. Funded by NASA, and executed by the Kluge Center in consultation with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the program promotes research at the intersection of the science of astrobiology and its humanistic and societal implications. Ordinarily a senior researcher is appointed annually to be in residence at the Kluge Center, to make use of the Library of Congress collections, and to convene related programs that ensure astrobiology’s role in culture and society receives considered treatment each year in Washington, D.C.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, with more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. As the world’s largest repository of knowledge and creativity, the Library is a symbol of democracy and the principles on which this nation was founded. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site, in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill, and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.


PR 15-003
ISSN 0731-3527