“Gender-Bending” Chemicals, Science-for-Hire, and Philosophy

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In 2011, I was a first-year philosophy graduate student at the University of Minnesota. I was taking a philosophy of biology course focused on the topic of evolutionary developmental biology, or evo-devo. As I was trying to think of a good term paper topic, I came across the story of Tyrone Hayes, a UC Berkeley biologist. In the late 1990s, Hayes was looking at the effects of the herbicide, atrazine, on frog development in partnership…

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Digital Humanities and the Future of Political History

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In a recent New York Times editorial, historians Fredrik Logevall and Kenneth Osgood lament the decline of traditional political history as print outlets and universities move to privilege scholars and scholarship that emphasize political change from the “bottom up.” Yet whether one aligns with the Logevall and Osgood call for more “traditional” political history or with those who focus on the contributions of historically underrepresented groups, the print mediums historians use to address and document…

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Circumstantial Humanism: The Photographic Image

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When I am going through a difficult situation I often turn to art to lift my spirits. For me powerful works of art challenge and often comfort me by reminding me that I am not alone in the essential qualities that make us human: fear, loss, joy, or desires that provide us with ability to sympathize with others and acknowledge our own humanity. This past December my brothers and I sold our parent’s house that…

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History Professor in the Jazz Band: A Humanist Ponders the Arts

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Playing jazz while towering over Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline from the 94th floor observation deck in Hancock Center is an experience that is difficult to describe. It’s certainly not an experience I expected to have – until a surprise opening and a chance conversation converted me, a History professor, into a tenor sax player in the Drury University Jazz Ensemble. I dragged the old ax out of the closet, released the dust and…

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