School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science


Applications are sought for a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship linked to a new project on the relationship between genetics teaching and genetic determinism. The application deadline is Thursday 9 August 2012. Interviews of shortlisted candidates will take place the following Thursday, with the successful candidate beginning on 1 September 2012.


For more than a century, the teaching of genetics has been organized around concepts originating with Gregor Mendel. But, in the genomics age, is Mendelian pedagogy still fit for purpose? What are the alternatives? And what sorts of attitudes and aptitudes do different kinds of pedagogies promote in students of the science of inheritance? These questions form the basis of a new two-year interdisciplinary research project at the University of Leeds between Prof. Gregory Radick (HPS) and Dr Jenny Lewis (Education). Applications are now sought for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow who will be centrally involved in all aspects of the project, including the design, delivery and evaluation of a non-Mendelian genetics curriculum.

On the HPS side, the project arises from Prof. Radick’s research into the debates surrounding the emergence of Mendelian genetics in the early years of the twentieth century, in particular the views of the most profound biological critic of the new “Mendelism”, W. F. R. Weldon (1860-1906), and the possibility that, had Weldon lived, the science of heredity might have developed differently, with far more emphasis on the environmental conditioning of hereditary effects (a pervasive theme for Weldon) than was actually the case. On the science education side, the project intersects with Dr Lewis’ longstanding interest in incorporating the perspectives of genomics into the genetics curriculum in schools, and her concern (widely shared) that the traditional stress on unrepresentative single-gene disorders might promote genetic determinism and so undermine efforts elsewhere in the curriculum to deny or combat the view that genes are somehow “super” causes.

Generous funding from the Faraday Institute, in connection with its Uses and Abuses of Biology grants programme, will enable the project to cover costs for several research trips by the Fellow, for the Fellow’s participation in two international conferences, and for the hosting at Leeds of a mid-project workshop and an end-of-project international conference, both to be organized by the Fellow. At Leeds, the Fellow will be primarily associated with the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science, but also with the Centre for Studies of Science and Mathematics Education, the Centre for Medical Humanities, and the University of Leeds Biology Education Research Group.

Further details about the position and how to apply for it can be found at,5761544812&key=83254609&c=872583343548&pagestamp=seeiofcvkqwfmmsdnd

A recent lecture by Prof. Radick setting out the wider research context for the project can be viewed here:

Informal inquiries should be sent to Prof. Radick at [email protected]