New HC Learning Community to explore ‘Mars Alive!’

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — How do we move beyond the Earth’s surface either in reality or in our imaginations? In 2018-19, the new Honors College Science and Society Learning Community will delve deep into science fact and fiction. Members of this close-knit community will forge together the humanities and STEM disciplines using Mars as a case study. Together, this interdisciplinary group of students and faculty will explore how imagining, analyzing, and making plans to inhabit the red planet enable us to think about our place in this world and in worlds beyond.

“The idea for this learning community came from a group of students in ‘Evolution of Ideas: Utopia’ during spring semester 2016,” Associate Dean of Research and Creative Endeavors Kristina Bross said. “Their vision was to bring together students from different fields to learn about science and society issues from experts, researchers and one another.”

Research suggests learning communities are a fast track to academic success, bringing students together for shared curriculum and extracurricular activities. Students in HCSS-LC: Mars Alive! will live together in Third Street Suites and take two honors classes: “Science Fiction and Fantasy,” taught by Bross in the fall and “Life on Mars,” taught by two researchers in the Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats (RETH) group, Professors Antonio Bobet and Shirley Dyke in the spring.

“I believe that the Science and Society learning community will be an exemplar of interdisciplinary academics,” Heather Servaty-Seib, Associate Dean for Student Life said. “What an exciting way for students to immerse themselves in science and science fiction.”

“We are especially excited to be partnering with the English Department through an honors offering of ‘Science Fiction and Fantasy,'” Bross added. “This course will anchor the community’s exploration of Mars and beyond by investigating the ways speculative fiction—sometimes grounded in science and sometimes completely wild—has shaped our understanding of Mars and other worlds.”

In Spring of 2019, students in HCSS-LC: Mars Alive! will bring those insights to their “Life on Mars” course. Utilizing knowledge gained from “Science Fiction and Fantasy,” they will explore how various disciplines will help tackle one of humankind’s grand challenges, creating permanent human settlements outside Earth.

Students from all majors are encouraged to apply for HCSS-LC. Out-of-class experiences will include the fall “Dawn or Doom” conference and the spring “Science and Society” keynote lecture, along with film screenings, visits to Purdue’s Flight and Space Exploration Archives, and talks with noted scholars and researchers.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis beginning November 1. APPLY NOW