Monthly Archives: December 2013

Astrosociology: The Human Dimension of Outer Space

Dr. Kathleen Toerpe of the Astrosociology Research Institute (ARI) has written guest commentary on Paul Glister’s Centauri Dreams blog, explaining the goals and some of the history of ARI for his audience. I suspect that anyone interested in the two-way relationship between outer space and human activity would be very interested in Dr. Toerpe’s essay.

In particular, this is the idea that energizes me the most about what Astrosociology is trying to do:

By nature of its all-encompassing focus – after all, human social behavior related to the enormity of outer space is a rather large research arc – astrosociology is necessarily multidisciplinary and collaborative.

The major hurdle in the minds of many people about space exploration, in my opinion, is that it is perceived as hard to do, exotic, or both. Having worked in the field for a couple of decades now, I can tell you that, yes, it can be those things. So it also can be for designing a toaster, digging a ditch, or driving a cab. Not coincidentally, all of those other jobs and any other under creation will need to be done in space. Space as both an academic exercise and as a practical one will require hard work and full engagement of many disciplines to continue its progression. It is just life doing what life must do to perpetuate itself and hopefully improve itself, just as we’ve been doing for centuries on Terra Ferma.



I stumbled upon a scholastic discipline that I had never heard of before: Astrosociology.

Astrosociology is a relatively new field defined as the study of astrosocial phenomena (i.e., the social, cultural, and behavioral patterns related to outer space).

Apparently, this is a very new subtopic in sociology that is working earnestly to establish itself a legitimate area of inquiry. Based on reading the founder’s 2004 Inaugural Essays (Part 1 & Part 2), I find it to be a straightforward and valid topic that should be able to stand on its own.

Outbound is devoted to moving society into space as a matter of logical progression, and it frankly excited me to read what the Astrosociology folks have to say. If we can better understand how space is just another description of the cosmos we are socially connected to, another extension of our efforts, that will keep opening doors leading us off of Earth.