Native American Dance in Performance: A Choreographer’s Approach

Having been a student of dance technique for most of my life, I was startled when I realized that my perspective on this art form is very narrow. I know dance to be an innately human means of emotional expression, storytelling and communal bonding. Yet, in my experience with dance, consisting almost exclusively of ballet-based technique classes, I see nothing of this universality. I imagine I am not alone in my ignorance; the “dance world” in the U.S. is dominated by the Western European art of ballet and its offspring, modern dance. Lesser-known dance styles are sometimes incorporated into contemporary dance works, and cultural dance genres such as African dance have gained attention. However, in a country marked by diversity, I believe it is important that the public are exposed to a more representative concept of dance, replacing stereotypes of ballerinas with holistic understanding of what dance means to a people.  In particular, I want to explore dance as practiced by Native American tribes in the Eastern U.S., for though their dance tradition was developed in this region long before Western colonization, it appears more foreign to us today than the ballet which was imported from France, Russia and Italy.

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Ethical Implications of CRISPR-cas9 Gene-Editing Technology

Gene-editing is a process within genetic engineering through which scientists and researchers can alter, add, and even remove the DNA of a living organism.  On the cutting-edge of this field is a technology known as CRISPR-cas9. CRISPR, which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, is a gene editing method derived from a biological process in bacteria, and cas-9 is the associated enzyme of the system whose role is to cut the DNA.  This tool is extremely powerful, so there are naturally many ethical implications to consider, especially with the rate at which technology is advancing.  The goal of this research is to investigate those implications and issues and to present them in a way that is understandable to the general public.  This includes potential new scientists in the field and policy makers, as all should be aware of what technology is capable of, despite its complexities.  This information will be communicated through a literature review.  The review will be created through a three-part process.  First, the mechanism of CRISPR-cas9 itself will be investigated, then the ethics of science, including previous innovations and their long term affects, will be reviewed.  Lastly, these two components will be synthesized into a cohesive guide to what the advanced gene-editing of CRISPR-cas9 could mean ethically to individuals and society as a whole.

Abstract: Is Political Apathy Rooted in Institutional Inefficacy in the U.S.?

American political participation, most notably voting, is low compared to many other modern Western states—citizens and pundits alike commonly reference the prevalence of political apathy in the United States. An array of rational-material, ideational, and institutional explanations pinpoint potential causes for low participation. This research project focuses on institutional explanations: how the rules, systems, and organizations in place may induce greater frustration, distrust, and other negative feelings contributing to apathy and inaction. Understanding how American institutions may discourage political engagement can lead to reforming these institutions, which is vital, as a democratic system functions best with a well-informed and engaged citizenry. Many political scientists have conducted research on various institutions’ consequences on citizen behavior, but the results seem scattered; thus, through a literature review, I intend to synthesize previous research on different institutions’ effects—as well as briefly compare it to rational-material and ideational explanations—to achieve a coherence that answers the question: is political apathy rooted in institutional inefficacy in the U.S.? If so, how can we fix it?

Abstract: The History, Function, and Significance of Semaphore Telegraph Towers

I will conduct research on semaphore telegraph tower systems, the technology which was the fastest method of communication in existence from the 1790s until the invention of the electric telegraph and Morse code in the 1830s. The system consisted of lines of towers which crossed the countryside, set at distances so that each could be seen by the next, with arrangements of mechanical shutters or hinged arms on top. An operator manipulated the shutters or arms to spell a message in code, and the operator of the next tower would observe the message, and repeat it for the following tower’s operator to repeat, and so on.

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