Carnegie Mellon University
December 19, 2023

A Place in Space for the Humanities

By Caroline Sheedy

Pennsylvania wants to be the next space state. With a trip to the moon in progress and a mark on Mars in the books, Carnegie Mellon University’s expertise in engineering and computer science has cemented the university as a player in the rapidly growing, next-generation space exploration industry. Humans have the technology to go to space. CMU English professors James Wynn and Kathy M. Newman are asking whether they should and what sorts of ethical questions they should consider if they proceed.

The pair are leading a project called Planetary Hospitality that explores astrocolonialism, climate change, capitalism, how humans understand and influence space travel, and what makes a planet hospitable. Through a series of lectures, film screenings, courses and a symposium, the three-year project is bringing the humanities into a conversation usually overshadowed by engineering and computer science.

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