Fall 2017 Project
Idea: The project will exist in two parts: a comprehensive sociological and political plan for a Mars colony incorporating scientific, economic, technological, and ethical factors, and a intercollegiate debate concerning the developed plan.
Significance: Mars presents the opportunity for a fresh start for humanity. In addition to answering technical questions of “how”, consideration also needs to be given to the “should”. The settlement of a new, remote location is rife with opportunities for a repeat of the most shameful episodes of human history, and it is our ethical responsibility to preempt this eventuality in every way possible. The sociological element of the project will focus on developing plans for a Mars colony that take into consideration the various challenges and opportunities afforded by the Red Planet for human development, while the debate will help attract students from majors beyond STEM who are interested in humanity’s future in space to learn about relevant subject material and develop the knowledge necessary to help shape future Mars colonization. The debate element of the project will serve as a crucible for responsible space policy. Through the rigorous examination of various guiding philosophies for human expansion in space, the most ethical and worthwhile policies will emerge to the top, allowing for a clarity of purpose in space exploration that will help to avoid the tragic human and environmental costs of humanity’s directionless progress on Earth.
Proof of Concept: Colony plans will be essential as companies like SpaceX as well as state actors work to establish human presence on Mars. Absent a coherent plan, colonization efforts could easily devolve into unrest, violence, and failure. Public debates regularly draw crowds, especially when well-publicized, relevant to an exigent topic, and the debating parties have a well-established rivalry.