Love Our Monsters – Radical Collaboration in a Post-Disciplinary Age

Christina Agapakis

Over the past decade, synthetic biology has disciplined itself. Synthetic biology aims to make biotechnology a “true engineering discipline,” through the application and adoption of engineering design principles. As biology and engineering have merged in synthetic biology, the blurring of the boundary between science and technology has created a new discipline, complete with its own boundaries and its own discursive methods for creating, reinforcing, and enforcing those boundaries. While these boundaries serve to define useful goals and productive challenges for the field, the applied research of synthetic biology often benefits from the input of many more disciplines, fields that remain as outsiders even in the dynamic and interdisciplinary field of synthetic biology. This strategic plan describes how recent partnerships between synthetic biology and art, bioethics, policy, and law show the potential for a new model of post-disciplinary research, one where biological designs are conceived and deployed through active collaboration to create technology that functions effectively, safety, sustainability at the human scale.