SU Faculty Finds: What to Read in June

Tiffany Vora
Jun 24, 2019

At SU, our Faculty continually come across great content that sparks fascinating discussions among ourselves and with those of you who attend our programs. Here are a few of the items that were of particular interest to us this month.

Brain in a Dish, Babies by Design: What It Means to Be Human

In this book review in Nature, Natalie Kofler lenses her fascination with identity and genetics through a new work by science writer Philip Ball. Based on Kofler’s review, Ball’s How To Grow A Human is a must-read for anyone contemplating how revolutions in the life and medical sciences will impact daily life—as well as the nature of life itself. If you’ve ever joined me or my fellow biomed-oriented SU colleagues for a session, you’ve already experienced the awe and … disquiet ... prompted by CRISPR, gene drives, organs in a dish, partly revived dead pig brains, and other spectacular advances that were (mostly) inconceivable even a decade ago. Perhaps most importantly, you’ve already asked: “Who gets to decide?” Check out Kofler’s review, as well as Ball’s book, to re-engage with critical milestones on the road to an abundant future.

New Digital Test Kitchen Facilitates SU’s Emergence Into Synchronous Online Learning

I’m an experimentalist by training, so in 2018 I was thrilled to help launch an experimental space at SU dedicating to supporting pedagogical risk-taking. In Test Kitchen, my fellow SU Faculty and Experts apply a maker’s mindset to SU’s educational experiences, by innovating, prototyping, testing, and iterating cutting-edge activities that go deeper into today’s biggest technologies and challenges. Not long ago, SU expanded this safe zone online, connecting a global community in seven countries for an innovation jam session. Check out this blog post by Alyson Mike and Dr. Christyna Serrano to explore what was awesome, what we learned, and how we’re looking forward to growing the future of education in the digital SUniverse.

Rowing across a dried river

Lessons From a Genocide Can Prepare Humanity for Climate Apocalypse

If you only ever read one thing ever again, make it this essay penned by Roy Scranton for MIT Technology Review’s special climate issue. And then read it, over and over, until you fully grasp Scranton’s core thesis: humanity missed its chance to avert climate catastrophe. Part of my heart—the optimistic part—struggles to submit to this horrifying statement. But the rest of me knows that our species has doomed life as we know it, through hubris and unforgivable, willful ignorance. So what do we do now? We accept that unless we radically innovate—not just our technologies but our very mindsets—and meet the cascading challenges of carbon sequestration and emission reduction head-on, there will be nothing left to innovate for. None of our global grand challenges or exponential technologies will matter if there aren’t a billion lives left to positively impact. Stop reading this post and go tackle Scranton’s article. The time is today—not tomorrow—and the hero is you—not your children. What will you do next? For yourself, for your children, and for our planet?