Monthly Archives: October 2015

Friday, 16 October 2015 — 12:00 noon — GAR 4.100

Ioanna Semendeferi, University of Houston

“Feelings, Ethics, and the Past’s Persistence:
Visualization and the Film ‘Dear Scientists'”

There is an increasing body of evidence that not only cognition but also emotions shape moral judgment. The conventional teaching of responsible conduct of research, however, does not target emotions; its emphasis is on rational analysis.  Here I present a new approach, ‘the feelings method,’ for incorporating emotions into science ethics education. This method is embodied in ‘Dear Scientists,’ an innovative film that combines humanities with arts. The film works at the subconscious level, delivering an intense mix of music and images, contrasted by calm narration. ‘Dear Scientists’ has struck a chord across the science, humanities, and arts communities—a promising sign. The presentation focuses on the film’s aims and includes its 26-minute screening.


Ioanna Semendeferi is an Associate Professor in the Physics Department at the University of Houston. She holds a B.S. in Physics from the Aristotle University in Greece and a Ph.D. in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine from the University of Minnesota. Her publications have appeared in the ‘Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences,’ ‘Science and Engineering Ethics,’ ‘Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education,’ and ‘Nature Physics.’ She was the architect of the ethics in science and history of science courses at the University of Houston, where she has taught since 2008. Currently, her work focuses on science ethics and the social and human dimensions of science. She wrote, directed, and produced ‘Dear Scientists,’ which is her first film. Her work has been supported by the NSF and other agencies.

Friday, 9 October 2015 — 12:00 noon — WAG 316 

Levi Van Sant, University of Georgia

“Plantation Geographies: Race, Science, and Agriculture in the South Carolina
Lowcountry, 1865-Present”

In the decades following the end of slavery, freedpeople in the Lowcountry of
South Carolina — the coastal region surrounding the port city of Charleston
— were able to wrest a significant amount of control over land and their own
labor from the plantation bloc, especially relative to other areas of the US
South. But this success was short-lived, and by the 1920s the trend in black
land ownership in the region began a steady march downwards — one that
continues today. I argue that this white monopolization of land represents a
reproduction, albeit in modified form, of plantation geographies. This talk
examines the role agricultural science played in the 20th century
dispossession of black Lowcountry farmers, and questions the extent to which agricultural governance in the region today challenges or reproduces the region’s racially uneven landscape.


Levi Van Sant is a graduate student in the Geography Department at the
University of Georgia. He is now completing a dissertation on agrarian change
in the South Carolina Lowcountry.