This podcast was a discussion on my pieces, “On my Grandmother’s Death” and “On the Aftermath of My Grandmother’s Death.” The piece was inspired by my grandmother, Luybov Kapuza, who recently ended her battle with Alzheimer’s. Through watching my grandmother suffer, I developed strong views on several bioethical topics, the most prominent of which was euthanasia.
This work was explaining the way my grandmother lived and died, and presenting an alternative scenario. It makes the case that one cause is more ethical than the other. Doctors swear to uphold ethics—do no harm—but we still question when doing nothing is taking the most harmful path? For this reason, euthanasia is an essential issue to bring up in the case of medical or bioethics. What should doctors do when presented with a case that is sure to deteriorate and have no measurable quality of life?
This piece also discusses financial incentives for caretaking and financial penalties for failure to meet standards of care. This is an important topic as it dictates medical care of the most vulnerable members of society.
I felt that presenting a real-life case—the case of my grandmother and her family as she deteriorated, and in the aftermath of her eventual death—would demonstrate my argument best and push it into the spotlight of bioethical debate.
Chronically ill children spend extended periods of time in hospital and healthcare settings; they rely on books to engage their imaginations. These children do not have typical childhood experiences (consistently attending school, playing outside, being surrounded by family) as well as having atypical childhood experiences (experiencing pain and isolation from a very young age). Children’s storybooks typically depict a life very unlike that of a chronically hospitalized child and thus, cause many chronically ill children to see their own lives as abnormal, and their experiences isolated. I want to create a children’s story book that follows the narrative of chronically ill children, creates characters and a storyline that children can identify with, and serve as a medium to address the more difficult issues surrounding hospitalization (pain, isolation, etc.). The book will focus on addressing the patient experience and ensuring that chronically hospitalized children do not feel defined, constrained, or isolated by their experiences in the hospital. The book will not only affect patients but will hopefully also encourage healthcare workers to be more aware of the importance of these issues.
2nd Place – Multimedia + Performing Arts
“Making a New World” explores dance as a call to action on climate change. In this piece, I chose to explore the broken relationship between nature and humanity against the backdrop of Hurricane Sandy. This event was cataclysmic, exposing the vulnerability of New York City to the effects of climate change. New York is the center of U.S. economic power and is far removed from humanity’s conception of nature. Through this piece, I seek to display the fragility of our current state while contemplating what constitutes an effective call to action on climate change. In the era of the Anthropocene, I envision a new world where humanity sees itself as part of nature, and develops a deeper level of respect for the Earth.
2nd Place – Multimedia + Performing Arts
This project is a kind-of physical and artistic mulling — it is my way of reckoning with the emotional force of discovering and learning about anthropogenic effects on our oceans, specifically coral reefs. Depicted are 25 species of coral considered “endangered” or “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the U.S. agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They are shown with signs of the human — a tire; a trawling net; black ink as oil; void of color as coral bleaching.
1st Place – Multimedia + Performing Arts
Endless droughts and monsoons. Tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes that level cities. The disappearance of the Arctic. Record-breaking weather across the globe. Mass extinction at our hands. How do these seemingly improbable events fit into the plots of serious, conventional fiction?
According to Amitav Ghosh, natural disasters are just too improbable to fit into, say, the Victorian novel. Thus, the avant-garde has relegated climate change to the world of ‘less serious fiction,’ such as Sci-Fi. In this way, logocentric forms of examining climate change have failed us. Text feels ill-equipped to grapple the climate that surrounds us.
Thus, we come to an ethical question: Is it time to change the act of reading as we know it? What would that even look like?
Through an examination of Guerilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn, this video essay examines a different way of wrestling with the themes of the Anthropocene. By scattering the world’s lore throughout the open world map, Horizon: Zero Dawn begs the player to act as paleontologist, archaeologist, and anthropologist. This hybrid nature allows Horizon to make contemporary comments on climate change by simulating what future generations will have to endure to find the traces of the altered world they may inherit.
ANNA LAUCHNOR, ALI LONNER, NINA LIVERMORE
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.