kdenning


Kathryn E L Denning

Photo of Kathryn E L Denning

Department of Anthropology

Associate Professor

Office: Vari Hall, 2036
Phone: (416) 736-2100 Ext: 40136
Email: kdenning@yorku.ca
Primary website: http://www.yorku.ca/kdenning/


My current research focuses on: the scientific search for life in the universe; social and ethical issues in space exploration and colonization; and the role of archaeology and the archaeological past in the present.

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Kathryn Denning is an anthropologist and archaeologist at York University, where she teaches courses including Humanity's Journeys, Ancient Civilizations, Archaeology and Society, Social Lives of Places and Things, and the Anthropology of Outer Space, on topics ranging from humanity's biological and social evolution and expansion across Earth in the Pleistocene and Holocene eras, to our science and technology's expansion into our solar system in the Anthropocene era. She has also guest lectured in a Life in the Universe natural science course, and she teaches a graduate course in Anthropology and Science & Technology Studies called Anticipating the Alien, on SETI and astrobiology. The unifying theme of her two decades of research is The Other. In short, her research examines scholarly and popular ideas about Others, how we can know them, and ethical ways of relating to them. The Others she has studied include the ancient (in archaeology), the animal (in zoos), and the alien (in SETI and astrobiology). Her work in archaeology has focused primarily on the role of the archaeological past in the present, and the history and philosophy of archaeology and physical anthropology. For the last ten years, her work has been increasingly focused upon space. Her recent and current work with the NASA Astrobiology Institute and the SETI Institute includes co-leading projects on the evolution of intelligence on Earth (with Lori Marino), and astrobiology & society (with Margaret Race). She also studies Mars simulations, and current ideas about the human colonization of space, and the ethical issues emerging with multiple stakeholders in our solar system. Her SETI-related anthropological work focuses on scientists' ideas about what alien intelligences would be like, the ongoing debates about active transmission projects, and the potential social impact of a SETI detection. She has presented her work internationally, including at the Royal Society in London, ES:GC2 in Brussels, American Anthropological Association, several International Astronautical Congress meetings, Bioastronomy, AbSciCon, and Singularity University. Her published SETI-related research includes explorations of: scientists' conceptions of ETI, and how these are influenced by culture, history, and by the technology used in SETI; interstellar message construction; debates about ‘active SETI’; and, what civilizations on Earth tell us about the Drake factor "L" (a key variable in the Drake Equation). She is an active member of the International Academy of Astronautics SETI Permanent Study Committee and its Post-Detection task group, co-Chair of the Astrobiology & Society Focus Group of the NASA Astrobiology Program, and co-PI of the NAI-funded Intelligence in Astrobiology project (affiliated with the NAI's Arizona State Astrobiology group and the SETI Institute). She greatly enjoyed being part of Crew 78 at the Mars Desert Research Station, and her several extended visits at NRAO Green Bank. On the interstellar front, she collaborates with Icarus Interstellar, the Tau Zero Foundation, and 100YSS.

Degrees

PhD, University of Sheffield, UK
MA, McMaster University
BA (hons), McMaster University

Research Interests

Anthropology , Science and Technology, archaeology, anthropology of science

Current Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall 2019 AP/ANTH3270 3.0 A The Anthropology of Outer Space LECT
Fall/Winter 2019 AP/ANTH1130 6.0 A Anthropology of the Living and the Dead LECT
Fall 2019 AP/ANTH2140 3.0 B Intro to Archaeology and Prehistory LECT


Upcoming Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Winter 2020 AP/ANTH4290 3.0 M The Anthropology of Mars SEMR
Fall/Winter 2019 AP/ANTH1130 6.0 A Anthropology of the Living and the Dead LECT


My current research focuses on: the scientific search for life in the universe; social and ethical issues in space exploration and colonization; and the role of archaeology and the archaeological past in the present.

Kathryn Denning is an anthropologist and archaeologist at York University, where she teaches courses including Humanity's Journeys, Ancient Civilizations, Archaeology and Society, Social Lives of Places and Things, and the Anthropology of Outer Space, on topics ranging from humanity's biological and social evolution and expansion across Earth in the Pleistocene and Holocene eras, to our science and technology's expansion into our solar system in the Anthropocene era. She has also guest lectured in a Life in the Universe natural science course, and she teaches a graduate course in Anthropology and Science & Technology Studies called Anticipating the Alien, on SETI and astrobiology. The unifying theme of her two decades of research is The Other. In short, her research examines scholarly and popular ideas about Others, how we can know them, and ethical ways of relating to them. The Others she has studied include the ancient (in archaeology), the animal (in zoos), and the alien (in SETI and astrobiology). Her work in archaeology has focused primarily on the role of the archaeological past in the present, and the history and philosophy of archaeology and physical anthropology. For the last ten years, her work has been increasingly focused upon space. Her recent and current work with the NASA Astrobiology Institute and the SETI Institute includes co-leading projects on the evolution of intelligence on Earth (with Lori Marino), and astrobiology & society (with Margaret Race). She also studies Mars simulations, and current ideas about the human colonization of space, and the ethical issues emerging with multiple stakeholders in our solar system. Her SETI-related anthropological work focuses on scientists' ideas about what alien intelligences would be like, the ongoing debates about active transmission projects, and the potential social impact of a SETI detection. She has presented her work internationally, including at the Royal Society in London, ES:GC2 in Brussels, American Anthropological Association, several International Astronautical Congress meetings, Bioastronomy, AbSciCon, and Singularity University. Her published SETI-related research includes explorations of: scientists' conceptions of ETI, and how these are influenced by culture, history, and by the technology used in SETI; interstellar message construction; debates about ‘active SETI’; and, what civilizations on Earth tell us about the Drake factor "L" (a key variable in the Drake Equation). She is an active member of the International Academy of Astronautics SETI Permanent Study Committee and its Post-Detection task group, co-Chair of the Astrobiology & Society Focus Group of the NASA Astrobiology Program, and co-PI of the NAI-funded Intelligence in Astrobiology project (affiliated with the NAI's Arizona State Astrobiology group and the SETI Institute). She greatly enjoyed being part of Crew 78 at the Mars Desert Research Station, and her several extended visits at NRAO Green Bank. On the interstellar front, she collaborates with Icarus Interstellar, the Tau Zero Foundation, and 100YSS.

Degrees

PhD, University of Sheffield, UK
MA, McMaster University
BA (hons), McMaster University

Research Interests

Anthropology , Science and Technology, archaeology, anthropology of science


Current Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall 2019 AP/ANTH3270 3.0 A The Anthropology of Outer Space LECT
Fall/Winter 2019 AP/ANTH1130 6.0 A Anthropology of the Living and the Dead LECT
Fall 2019 AP/ANTH2140 3.0 B Intro to Archaeology and Prehistory LECT


Upcoming Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Winter 2020 AP/ANTH4290 3.0 M The Anthropology of Mars SEMR
Fall/Winter 2019 AP/ANTH1130 6.0 A Anthropology of the Living and the Dead LECT