Author: Sarah Taft (page 1 of 2)

The Origin of an Environmental Solution: Jen Wilcox

At the beginning of the semester, Jen Wilcox visited both the STS senior seminar and the afternoon origins seminar (I believe) as well to discuss her research on carbon capture and reliable storage methods. Although she was not one of the evening seminar presenters, she spent our class discussing the origin of the problem increasing carbon emission levels have presented our society with today, and how carbon capture and dilution can be a potential solution.

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The End of the Origins (this semester)

Last Tuesday marked our last meeting of the Origins seminars, but rather than having just one presenter, we heard a little bit about many origin stories selected by the Seminar Class (232). Throughout this semester, I have continued to be surprised by the variety of origins our presenters discussed, and these presentations demonstrated the theme’s far reach historically and globally:   from the origins of journalism, to the origins evil, the origins of the use of “trans,” the origins of refugees in Lewiston Maine, and many others. Not only have I learned that the theme of origins has a much greater scale than I understood at the beginning of the semester, but there is a clear, greater value in considering the origin of something. An origin, regardless of whether its a historical event or a more personal matter, tells the story of a fairly intricate process that requires an assortment of factors to fall perfectly in place. With the alignment of these pieces, it then creates a significant, sometimes universal and sometimes personal, impact that then continues on throughout history.

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Elena Aronova – Origins of Science and the History of Science

Our last lecture of the semester was presented by Professor Elena Aronova, who traveled all the way from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she is a Professor of History.  Her academic focus has generally centered around the history of science, and in her introduction we learned that her current research is focused on the history of environmental and evolutionary sciences. To present her perspective on origins, she combined her own research in these fields with her reflections on our seminar series despite not working directly on the origin of something. In her work on the history of science, she has spent a lot of time considering the political implications of the different trajectories this history has taken. With this said, Professor Aronova argued that in the origins of science and the history of science, there are three origin stories that intertwine with one another in many ways. The first, is the origins of science, a topic we received an introduction to last week with Janet Browne. This notion of evolution and its development is one, somewhat more obvious and straightforward, way of thinking about origins in the history of science. This origin story completely disrupted societies understanding of human life and its creation, and this disruption led to the start of scientific understanding. The second origin story in the history of science is in the idea of Scientific Revolutions. There’s a history in the varying positions of how to define the or a one, Scientific Revolution, and the point at which its origin was. Finally, the third element Professor Aronova spoke of was the origin of the discussion of the history of science.

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The Beagle, Barnacles, Pigeons, and Correspondence: The Origin of the Origin

Professor Janet Browne of Harvard University returned again this year to discuss her past research on the life of Charles Darwin and how it applies to the theme of origins. Charles Darwin’s research in itself tells an origin story, but Professor Browne furthered this relationship and examined, how she worded it, “The Origin of the Origin.” As with many of the origin stories we’ve learned about this semester, there are many vital pieces that must fall together in order for these origin stories to occur. Professor Browne discussed some of these key pieces in Darwin’s life and research that led him to his discoveries and claims and that, without, could have led to a completely different outcome. From the beginning of his research, Charles Darwin was researching and telling an origin story as he worked to bring together evidence and scientific method. Professor Browne pulled an example from his first notebook on the transmutation of species, where directly in the second sentence he writes, “these facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species.” Darwin knew, to a certain extent, that he was creating an origin story of his own as he reflected on natural history and the evidence he was collecting. But how does one good idea transfer into a theory that is then circulated and discussed for centuries after? The answer is the Darwin’s origin’s origin story.

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Arnout van der Meer – Origins of National Identity in Indonesia

On November 7th, Professor Arnout van der Meer focused our Origins discussions in on the national identity of Indonesia, and how the country’s history makes it rather difficult to nail down. He talked specifically of Soemarsono, a highly educated Indonesian youth who played a key role in the history of colonial Indonesia. In 1913, Soemarsono was transferred and began working in the countryside of Java, a very harsh environment where he was required to crouch in the presence of, speak with a certain manner, and present gestures of respect to his leaders at specific times. Being caught in this situation that he did not want to be, Soemarsono began to rebel, and he found himself in the middle of a movement against colonial rule. This mobilization of people against their rulers was so significant because it marked the beginning of pushback in a society defined by its peaceful tendencies until this point.

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