SJ Students study civic humanities at Rice

Jay West ’20

On March 26, a group of 27 Strake Jesuit sophomore and junior students attended the civic humanities program at Rice University. The lecture and discussion was led by Dr. Erin Prophet a PhD recipient in the Department of Religion. Dr. Prophet specializes in Medical humanities research with interests in whole person health approaches, the interaction between contemporary and traditional medicine, and medical ethics.

Students and Dr. Prophet engaged in a lively conversation about humanities and the power of technology. The discussion mainly concentrated on two different themes: technology versus user privacy and the impact of artificial intelligence on humanities. During the discourse, students learned about how companies such as Uber and Fitbit track user movements and whereabouts and discussed to what level was this an invasion of privacy. This hot button topic is widely debated in the public arena today because of the Facebook controversy.

Additionally, Strake Jesuit students learned about how artificial intelligence is impacting and improving everyday life and whether society will treat these robots with the same level of human dignity as we do our own counterparts. Students discussed whether robots should have rights, and should they be treated with empathy.

Students found the field trip was thought-provoking. Stephen Kelley ‘20 said, “The field trip was very interesting, and I was challenged on the discussions on artificial intelligence. I recommend this field trip to Strake Jesuit students.”

The lecture was followed by a tour of campus art including the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace and a visit to the Fondren library. All in all, it was a productive and impressive excursion.