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Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401
At Knox Since: 2015
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Ben Farrer teaches the course Science Fiction and the Human Identity and authored a chapter in the book Poli Sci Fi: An Introduction to Political Science through Science Fiction.
How do you think science fiction informs the study of political science?
Science fiction examines the 'big questions' that we might otherwise overlook. It's easy to get caught up in the headlines, scandals, and gaffes of a presidential race. But we shouldn't spend all our time worrying about who is going to be president—we should spend more time thinking about why we have a president at all. Why not a different type of system? Why are we limiting our political participation to just deciding who to vote for? Why not push for more fundamental changes in society? Science fiction helps stretch our imaginations. It helps us think about revolutions.
What is the value of approaching old subjects from new directions?
One of the best things about academia is the opportunity to always be trying new things. I think 'Poli Sci Fi' represents a genuinely new take on some important topics, and I think it'll help students. I'm teaching a First-Year Preceptorial section called 'Science Fiction and Human Identity' in the fall and I'm excited to take some of these ideas further in that class.
What support have you received from Knox to pursue your independent projects?
Knox has been great about supporting independent research. I've worked with some exceptional students as research assistants for a number of different projects, and Knox also provides a lot of opportunities to connect and potentially collaborate with other faculty.