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The Work Meets Life Project: Work Processes in Biological Systems

Work Meets Life (The MIT Press) is a multidisciplinary volume developed during a seven-year collaborative project between researchers affiliated with the Work Science Institute, the University of Colorado, and the University of Cambridge. The volume is fashioned as a guidebook to exploring different aspects of how work gets done in living systems.

Work Meets Life Overview

Building from seven years of collaboration and two international working conferences, researchers from the University of Colorado and the University of Cambridge, and the Work Science Institute, developed a foundational volume on the integrative study of work in living systems,
Work Meets Life: Exploring the Integrative Study of Work in Living Systems, published by the MIT Press.  This guidebook links research from a wide range of fields to work in living systems, including research in cellular physiology, neurobiology, biogeochemistry, electrical engineering and multi-objective optimization, evolutionary biology, integrative design, industrial psychology, environmental physiology, and psychoneuroimmunology.

A Guidebook—to the Integrative Study of Work in Living SystemsThe core of the guidebook brings together nine contributed chapters, each authored by researchers from life sciences, psychological sciences, or engineering. Each chapter presents a vignette or cameo of specific research that can illuminate one aspect of how work gets done in biological systems, including humans. Each vignette was developed and edited cooperatively between the chapter authors and volume editors to provide the reader with content that provides together:

  1. A tutorial or primer on the research at hand.
  2. A learned essay on aspects of the research related to understanding work in living systems.
  3. An invitation related to engaging in future inquiry.

The nine contributed chapters are preceded by an Introduction that provides a framework for this exploration of studying work in living systems and an overview of the volume content and the links between the research vignettes in different areas. The contributed chapters are followed by a collaboratively-developed chapter, titled “Reflections,” on this exploration of work in living systems. Chapters are extensively cross-referenced throughout. 

Work Meets Life made Library Journal’s “Best Sellers in Biology” list, with a Top Twenty ranking.  Five book reviews of Work Meets Life in academic journals have praised the innovative, integrative, and in-depth approach of both the collaborative research effort and the volume.

Currently in development are short, small-group collaborative working conferences on selected topics from Work Meets Life to form the foundation of collaborative research initiatives. The first of these is Energy and Resource Allocation in Neural Systems.   A short course is available on Work Meets Life and the study of work in living systems.  For more information, please write: events@workscienceinstitute.org