A detailed program can be downloaded here.

Microbes are at the origin of all life. Without bacteria, viruses and other uni- or acellular organisms, life as we know it would cease to exist. The recent spark in microbial interests is underscored by their potential for innovations in medicine and technology. Despite this increasingly concerted gaze towards microbes, they have received relatively little attention from philosophers and ethicists.

Throughout this summer school, we will delve into the intricate worlds and biomes of the invisible from a transdisciplinary perspective. We will look at microbes from a philosophy of science and ethics perspective and explore how these two disciplines, often separated by disciplinary bounds, can come together when studying the microbiome. At the same time, we will look beyond the limits of academic philosophy and explore the possibilities of engaging with (bio)arts and literature to inform and enrich microbial reflections. We investigate whether and how critical posthumanism can inspire philosophers of science and bioethicists. Additionally, we will explore how literary texts critically engage with symbiosis, post-genomics, or feedback loops between different scales of the biosphere

We will address questions such as:

  • Can insights from philosophy of science facilitate the integration of microbiome data in existing post-genomic biomedicine? Can microbiome research signify a break with reductionism and somatic determinism in biomedicine? How does the entanglement of body, microbiome and environment inform insights on situatedness and perspectival body?
  • Do the ethical frameworks developed in the context of genomics translate to microbiome research? Can engagements between philosophers, ethicists and microbiologists foster ethical reflection and dialogue?
  • How does microbiome research intersect with questions on social and environmental (in)justice? Does the locality of the microbiome risks essentializing and naturalizing place and culture as biological categories in research?
  • How do literature and artworks redistribute agency toward nonhuman life?
  • How does a transdisciplinary perspective on the microbiome shift our perspectives on conceptions of life, self, environment, immunity, and community?

Seminars, lectures, and workshops will be given by Eiko Honda, Abigail Nieves Delgado, Massimiliano Simons, Joana Formosinho, Andrew Inkpen, Maureen O’Malley, Liliane Campos, Jean Manca and the organizers of the summer school (Lisanne Meinen, Daan Kenis, Ina Devos, Nele Buyst, Kristien Hens and Bart Vandeput).


Organizing committee: Kristien Hens, Lisanne Meinen, Nele Buyst, Daan Kenis, Bart Vandeput & Ina Devos.

Target group

Ma-students, Masters and PhD-students interested in topics from philosophy and history of science, environmental humanities, health humanities, narrative ethics, and feminist bio-ethics. 


Participants should have at least completed 2 full years of education in a relevant field of study. 


This summer school takes place at Stadscampus (Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp) of the University of Antwerp. This campus is located in the city centre.

Micro-credential and study credits (ECTS)

6 ECTS credits are awarded upon successful completion of the programme. All certificates of completion are issued as a micro-credential. 

Students need to attend the scheduled course contact hours, perform satisfactorily in the continuous assessment task of the course (including drafting a short design for the research paper) and complete the final assessment task (an individual research paper due September 1) in order to qualify for a certificate of completion. 

Participants who attend the scheduled course contact hours but don't complete the tasks will receive a certificate of attendance.

To include the credits in the curriculum at the home institution, participants need an agreement with the responsible person at the home institution.

Social programme

Participants will be able to get in touch with peers attending other summer schools at the Antwerp Summer University. A visit to the beautiful city hall, a networking reception, a guided city walk, a quiz night, a football game and a day-trip to another Belgian city such as Bruges or Brussels are only some examples of these activities.

All activities of the social programme are offered free of charge, in some cases participants will be asked for a deposit which will be reimbursed upon participation to the activity.