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Egenis · Events

Urban animal: rodents, humans, and the problem of the crowd

Seminar   17.02.2009






Dr Ed Ramsden, Research Fellow, Center for Medical History, University of Exeter

Organised by



University of Exeter,Egenis, Byrne House,St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJ

Room no: GF7, Byrne House

Event details

Time: 3:30 - 5:00 PMUrban animal: rodents, humans, and the problem of the crowd

In a 1962 edition of 'Scientific American', the ecologist John B.Calhoun presented the results of a series of experiments conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Calhoun identified a series of “social pathologies” that resulted from increased population density among rats and mice in the laboratory, such as violence, withdrawal, cannibalism, and sexual deviance. Calhoun’s experiments proved influential, resonating with a variety of concerns including population growth, environmental degradation, urban violence, and mental breakdown. They inspired scientists,policy-makers, and public commentators to seek similar pathologies among human populations. Some saw justification for designing lower density cities, others for reducing population growth through the use of birth control. While many in the social sciences and policy professions sought to apply Calhoun’s research to the problems of mankind in an increasingly overpopulated and urbanized world, they were also careful to reinforce the distinction between man and other animals.

Further details