#04 What Makes Us Human? | WeAreSTS

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In this interview, Professor Charlotte Sleigh talks about the STS1Book for 2021, a book she has co-written with Professor Amanda Rees. It’s called Humans. In our conversation, we talk about the book and some of its main ideas. We also talk about the book as one in a long series of projects Charlotte has undertaken in the general area of “animal studies,” a research topic in STS that has evolved in important ways in the past ten years. For example, Charlotte is an highly praised expert on the cultural history of ants, both in terms of scientific research and in terms of different cultures around the world. She’s also currently president of The British Society for the History of Science, one of the top global organisations supporting research, writing, and discussion in this area.

The book:

  • Amanda Rees and Charlotte Sleigh. 2020. Humans (Reaktion Books). ISBN 9781789142143.

Our interview was recorded in 2021 just after Charlotte arrived in STS as Lecturer (Teaching) in Social Studies of Science. This appointment is in addition to her role as an Honorary Professor.

The STS1Book programme is an initiative by UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) that asks all students and staff to read one book in common during the year. This serves as a foundation for interdisciplinary conversations and debate within our community. Each year we try to bring the authors into the department to work with our students to interpret the work and also simply to meet important practitioners in the subject.

One of the projects Charlotte mentioned was:

  • Stone, Christopher D. “Should Trees Have Standing?–Towards Legal. Rights for Natural Objects.” Southern California Law Review 45 (1972): 450-501

This was later developed into a book:

  • Stone, Christopher D. Should Trees Have Standing? Law, Morality, and the Environment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.



Professor Charlotte Sleigh
STS Honorary Professor and Lecturer (Teaching) in Social Studies of Science

Professor Joe Cain
UCL Professor in History and Philosophy of Biology

Music credits

Podcast information

“WeAreSTS” is a production of the Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at University College London (UCL). To find out more, and to leave feedback about the show, visit us online:


Students and staff in STS also can find on the website information about how to get involved with our programme.

Editing and post-production by Professor Joe Cain.

“WeAreSTS” producer is Professor Joe Cain.

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