Category: Multimedia + Performance

2017, Multimedia + Performance

This Honey Saves Elephants


Over the last 100 years, according to WWF, the Asian elephant population has dropped from 100,000 to somewhere between 35,000 and 50,000. Hunting for ivory has declined but thanks to the Human-Elephant conflict, elephants are still not safe… and neither are humans. Farmers have expanded their properties into the traditional migratory paths of the elephants, which results in conflict as the elephants continue on their normal routes. Elephants destroy crops and may injure or even kill farmers if they feel threatened. In reaction to this, farmers attempt to save their crops and protect themselves, generally turning to violence to do so. ¶The Asian elephant is an endangered, keystone species. This means that the elephant’s impact on its surrounding ecosystem is disproportionately large as compared to its population size. Therefore, by harming this species humans are ultimately harming the entire ecosystem, creating a large threat to biodiversity. The issue at hand is that if farmers stop killing elephants without being given an alternative course of action, there would be huge economic consequences, as well as health impacts. They would have no means of protecting themselves from the giant animal, and this would put their own lives at risk. However, other solutions in the past have had many problems that left them as inviable options. For example, electric fences are effective at keeping elephants out at first, but over time the elephants learn to use nearby branches to knock the fences out of their way without being shocked. Additionally, these fences are very expensive to maintain, as they require constant electrical charge. ¶A recent solution that has been spreading throughout Asia and Africa takes advantage of the elephants’ natural fear of bees. Organizations in these regions build beehive fences around farms to divert the elephants’ paths. These fences are basically wooden posts with man-made beehives strung between them. According to the Elephants and Bees Project, it has been shown to be 80% effective in preventing crop raids. While this solution seems both practical and ideal, is it ethical? It begs the question; do we have the right to permanently change the paths of the elephants to suit our needs if the elephants were there first?


2017, Multimedia + Performance

What if We Lived in a World Without Disability?


The Bioethics course I took as part of the Georgetown Disability Studies Initiative flipped many of my existing paradigms regarding ability and disability on their heads and severely challenged prejudices that I did not even know I held. Often, the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our questions. The objective of my piece is to educate those who, like me, have had minimal exposure to the disabled by asking a simple question: What if we lived in a world without disability? What would such a world look like?

Video is the future of media. All major social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube, are racing to capture the greatest share of this undervalued market; therefore, I hypothesized that creating a short Youtube video would be the most powerful medium to get my message to as many people as possible.

My video investigates a fundamental concept in disability studies: the social model of disability. We often think of the disabled as physically or mentally impaired in relation to ourselves. The social model says that disability is not a problem inherent to a body, but rather a lack of fit between a body and its social, material, or technological environment. In this view, everyone is disabled except for in a very specific environmental context. It is how we have structured our society that makes some of us abled and others disabled.

This is particularly relevant as we stand on the frontier of a technological revolution in biological science. Soon, we will be able to select for certain traits and preemptively correct “genetic mistakes” before birth. What dangers lie in such a utopia? This scenario is discussed in the video, with the hope that it may act as a springboard to explore these issues in greater depth.


2017, Multimedia + Performance

Accessibility at Georgetown University: A Photo Essay on Mobility Disaster


Georgetown University, founded in 1789, displays some magnificent architecture; the buildings, with an average age of 70 years old, exhibit a unique historical style. However, the historical nature of this campus and its location on the “Hilltop” greatly hinder advancement towards complete mobile accessibility.

Many of the buildings on campus were completed far before the Americans With Disabilities Act came into law in 1990. Since then, the Georgetown administration has been forced to play a never-ending game of catch up to make the space as accessible as possible.

While the university has made some vast improvements, a recent audit of the Georgetown Academic Resource Center and several testimonies from mobility-impaired Georgetown students point out that the administration still has a long way to go.

In accordance to the Social Model of Disability, students with physical disabilities are not disabled by the impairment itself; instead, these students are actually disabled by Georgetown’s terrain, infrastructure, administration, and social environment.

The featured photo essay has been inspired by the experiences of several mobility-impaired Georgetown students and is intended to illuminate the lack of fit between their bodies and the environment of Georgetown’s campus.


2015, Multimedia + Performance

Welcome to 23andMe


Olja analyzes the marketing strategy of genomic sequencing company, 23andMe, to understand the role of rhetoric in explaining (or failing to explain) the potential risks and benefits of undergoing personal genome sequencing. Olja deconstructs the 23andMe starter kit, carefully dissecting the implications of 23andMe’s privacy statement.



2015, Multimedia + Performance



Lena explores the relationship between every individual’s unique genetic code and the quest for greater knowledge of the collective human genome. Lena offers an interactive art piece that allows participants to build their own simplified DNA double helix, and then challenges participants to “donate” their unique genome to the larger effort toward understanding genomics on a broader scale.



2015, Multimedia + Performance



Valeria presents five photographs that underscore the tension between the potential risks and benefits of personal genomic sequencing. Valeria’s work illuminates the dilemmic nature of undergoing genomic sequencing, as individuals must consider the implications of their genetic results.



2015, Multimedia + Performance

“Liberty and Justice for All”: A Reflection


Marnie Klein (NHS’18) first encountered the now-infamous Guatemala STD Experiments (1946-1948) in a class on bioethics with KIE Scholar Tom Beauchamp. American physicians intentionally infected a variety of vulnerable populations — prisoners, mental patients, prostitutes, orphans, school children — with sexually transmitted diseases without informed consent.

Klein explains, “While many subjects were treated with antibiotics, many were not, resulting in at least eighty deaths and countless infections both inside the study and in the larger population.”

Her multimedia piece vividly evokes the experiences of four victims of these experiments: a sex worker, a prisoner, an orphaned child, and a soldier, whose differing backgrounds raise intersecting and divergent moral dimensions of the case.

“Art allows us to talk about things that otherwise make us uncomfortable,” says Klein, “[making] bioethics tangible through stories.”



2016, Multimedia + Performance



In his print, Nick represents the seven neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that, when left untreated, can result in crippling effects that limit productivity and thus encourage impoverishment. Broadspectrum medicines for NTDs can cost as little as fifty cents per person per year, yet there is still a critical need for these medicines in areas of limited access. Nick highlights that the medicines for NTDs are available and demonstrates that the major challenge is whether or not we will take the initiative to administer them to the people who sorely need them.




2016, Multimedia + Performance



Isabella uses both acrylic painting and linoleum block-prints to look at the topic of cloning through a non-partisan lens. She believes in the the beauty of combining art and science in order to glean new perspectives and interpretations on both sides of an issue.




2016, Multimedia + Performance



In her dramatic piece, loosely based on the events of the 1984 Head Injury Experiments at the University of Pennsylvania and the ensuing controversy, Marnie investigates where we should draw the line between what is ethically permissible in scientific research and what is morally wrong. Through her characters, Marnie attempts to shed light on the complexity of the ethics of biomedical research.