The Branching Tree: Organization, Process, and Hierarchy in Twentieth-Century Biological and Social Science


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships


History of Science


Many leaders of twentieth-century biological and social science embraced a new perspective on both science and nature, seeing the world as a complex, hierarchical system. Their science was behavioralist and functionalist, and it was characterized by a fascination with organization and process, especially the organization and processing of energy (before WWII) and information (after WWII). This project explore the development of this new view, focusing on a set of influential thinkers on biology, science, and society who saw strong parallels between the physiology of living systems and the structures and functions of "social organisms."