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Research

Dr. Matthew Pavesich
Dr. Matthew Pavesich

Not If, But How

Director Pavesich reflects on the public state of humanities in his short essay Not If, But How. In his essay, Pavesich explores ways for teachers, students, and the community to engage in humanist partnerships. In collaboration with the National Humanities Alliance, the Federation of State Humanities Councils, and Routledge, Taylor and Francis, his work is featured in the Humanities for All blog which will culminate in the National Humanities Conference (NHC) held in November 2022.


Dr. Rebecca Wilbanks
Dr. Rebecca Wilbanks

Genetic Control in Historical Perspective: The Legacy of India’s Genetic Control of Mosquitoes Unit

New gene editing technologies have the potential to efficiently spread a mutation through wild populations of plants and animals. Who should decide whether and how such potentially irreversible changes are made? University Writing Program faculty Rebecca Wilbanks was part of an interdisciplinary team of scholars convened by bioethics think tank The Hastings Center to address this question. Her article leads the special issue they produced, arguing that history can help us identify the social complexities of technological interventions that—like gene drives—are developed in high-income countries and considered for deployment in low-income ones. The article describes how US and Indian scientists worked together in the 1970s to alter the genetic makeup of mosquito populations outside New Delhi in hopes of lowering the burden of mosquito-borne illness. Despite efforts to engage local communities, the partnership was an unequal one and fell apart amidst accusations of spycraft and biowarfare in a context shaped by Cold War geopolitics and the legacy of colonialism. In writing this essay, Dr. Wilbanks sought to convey the nuances of history to an interdisciplinary audience interested in the implications for contemporary policy. You can read the paper here: