Alison Renna is a PhD candidate studying the history of ideas. In her dissertation “The Symbiotic Mind” she writes about the ways theories of cognition and images of the natural world shaped one another in the twentieth century, beginning with the birth of information theory in the 1940s and ending with research into the human microbiome-brain connection in the 2010s. Alison’s dissertation is co-directed by Noreen Khawaja and Joanna Radin.
Alison earned a Masters of Philosophy in Religious Studies at Yale in 2021, a Masters of Arts in the History of Science and Medicine at Yale in 2020, and a Bachelor of Arts in Science, Technology, and Society and Religious Studies from Franklin and Marshall College in 2018, summa cum laude. Her work at Yale has been funded by a Stephen and Clara A. Condict Fellowship.
At Yale College, Alison teaches about fundamental problems in thought that arise in science, religion, and the project of interpretation. She has assisted in teaching courses on the philosophy of science and religion, phenomenology in existentialist philosophy and science studies, the fate of metaphysics, Roman Catholicism, and the problem of the “neighbor” and the “other” in the history of philosophy with faculty in the religious studies and history of science departments. She has given talks on philosophy, religion, and science for environmental organizations and university science departments.
She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture and on the steering committee of the American Academy of Religion’s Science, Technology, and Society unit. She founded and co-leads the Undergraduate Science and Technology Studies reading group at Yale. In the past, she has served as chair of Facilities and Healthcare for the Yale Graduate Student Assembly, in which role she was part of a team which successfully advocated for humanities and science stipends for graduate trainees to be made equal at Yale. She has also served as the head graduate affiliate of Pierson College.
Alison has recently collaborated with the one and only Lukey Ellsberg to produce an audio piece on microbiome science for the Machines in Between Project. She has interviewed scholars of science and religion here and here.
Science and Technology Studies; Philosophy of History; History of Ecology; American Religion; Consciousness Studies; Metaphysics.