Human Spark Chat


Guests: Dr. Elizabeth Perry, RIT College of Science & Dr. George McIntosh, RMSC Director of Collections
Host: Dr. Calvin Uzelmeier, RMSC Director of Education
Guest Bios: Dr. Perry is Director of the General Science Exploration Program at RIT where she also lectures in the School of Biological and Medical Sciences. Her published scientific work has included studies of the genetic and environmental interactions that lead to disease onset in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease/motor neuron disease) and excitotoxic neurodegeneration, autoimmunity and seizure mechanisms related to the fatal pediatric condition, Juvenile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (JNCL/Batten Disease).

Dr. McIntosh is Director of Collections at the RMSC. For more than two decades, he has pursued his dual interests in geology and public science education at RMSC, working closely with the education and exhibit departments to uphold standards of collection quality, care, and scholarly interpretation, including as the chief natural scientist, exhibition curator and collections/content specialist for the natural science exhibition, Expedition Earth.

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psychological and kind of social views of human-ness

I think this is a fascinating series and really, for the most part, well done. SOmething that strikes me though, is that it takes a very particular view grounded in mainstream psychology, of human nature. There aren't researchers/experts who represent more socioculturally oriented views of human-ness, nor are there scholars of color or scholars from other than Ivy League, European-centric traditions. A lot of variations on how humans' inherently social nature manifests in development of language, interpersonal relations, and choices of who to affiliate with aren't addressed. I think there is an opportunity to expand on the ground laid in this series to take sociality and culture seriously in connecting brain functions, language, social interactions and society-level outcomes that are only hinted at. Race, linguistic and discourse practices, class, gender can all be important influences on the 'human spark' that can add dimensionality to what has been presented in this series.

The lack of involvement of scholars of color, of scholars from cultures in addition to Western European, etc. is problematic in that it provides a narrow view of what makes use human.