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Call for Papers | Social and Ethical Frontiers in Space

Call for Papers: Social and Ethical Frontiers in Space

The Society for Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology (SSoCIA) and the European Astrobiology Institute (EAI) will hold a joint meeting September 23 – 25, 2024 in Kiruna, Sweden

SSoCIA is an international and highly interdisciplinary group of scholars and other experts dedicated to investigation of the many social, cultural, and conceptual issues surrounding humanity’s future in space. 

EAI is a consortium of European research and higher education institutions and organisations as well as other stakeholders aiming to carry out research, training, outreach and dissemination activities in astrobiology in a comprehensive and coordinated manner and thereby securing a leading role for the European Research Area in the field.

Experts from every discipline interested in exploring the many complex social and ethical questions raised by space exploration and the search for life on other planets are invited to attend the first joint meeting of the two major groups devoted to this end. We welcome submissions addressing any of the many “broader questions” in astrobiology and space exploration such as:

  • Commercial activity in space
  • Human colonization of other worlds
  • The true nature of “life”
  • The moral status of ETL/ETI
  • Balancing diverse cultural perspectives
  • Space Mining
  • Ownership of space “resources”
  • First Contact protocols
  • “Pollution” in the context of space
  • Religious implications of contact
  • Fictional portrayals of space
  • Emerging issues in space law


This year, we are very fortunate to have an excellent keynote speaker in Dr. Tony Milligan:

Dr. Tony Milligan is a research fellow in Ethics at Kings College, London whose research focuses on otherness: other humans, other creatures, other places and how the shift between here and there alters our sense of what matters. His work in space ethics, including Nobody Owns the Moon: The Ethics of Space Exploitation (MacFarland, 2015) and the co-edited volume The Ethics of Space Exploration (Springer, 2016) emerge out of his work in this area with various colleagues, in Europe and the U.S., who are keen to boost this emerging discipline. His work is closely connected to an understanding of what it takes to be human, what it is like to see ourselves as part of a moral community, and the associated duties that we may have to humanity.

Kiruna, located some 300 km north of the arctic circle, is home to the Swedish Estrange Space Center and Rocket Range. At this time of year, attendees should be able to see both splendid fall colors as well as the northern lights.

If you wish to be considered, submit a 250-word abstract for a presentation or poster (please specify) by June 1, 2024 to the program chair, Kelly Smith ( Additional information about the conference will be posted to our website ( when it becomes available. Graduate students are especially encouraged to apply and we anticipate having support to facilitate their participation.

Dr. Kelly C. Smith is Professor of Philosophy & Biological Sciences at Clemson University. Kelly received his M.S. in Biology from Duke University in 1992, followed by his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1994. Kelly’s research is wide ranging and includes work on philosophical issues surrounding the search for life on other planets, the concept of “genetic disease,” the relationship between religious faith and scientific reasoning, ethical implications of new technologies, complex systems in developmental and evolutionary biology, and the origins and nature of life.