Thursday, May 06, 2021

Summer Projects

The year of online teaching for me has (finally!) come to an end. I taught 4 courses fully online this year, servicing approximately 570 students over the two semesters.  It was an exhausting endeavour, as I decided not to simply record my talking over power point slides, but to actually design video lectures using Camtasia, with embedded videos and new slides as well as adding new substantive content to the course this year (e.g. anarchism and Black political thought).

With the teaching term wrapped up I am looking forward to (a) some downtime!  and (b) making some serious headway on the new projects I have lined up.  I have two immediate short-term projects to complete momentarily- the first is a new paper on the ethics of life extension for an edited volume, the second an R&R submission to a science journal on aging.  Once those are completed my research efforts will be focused exclusively on the following two projects:

1.  I signed a book contract for a new book on the classics of political philosophy for today.  This will cover thinkers from Plato to Franz Fanon and makes the case for engaging (in a critically, inquisitive fashion) with the history of Western political thought.  The preparatory work for this book draws on over 12 years of teaching a year-long course on this subject at Queen's.  But there are new thinkers, topics, criticisms, and empirical insights I want to blend into the mix.  So I still have to undertake some substantive research and writing to make serious headway on this project.  This will preoccupy most of my writing for the remainder of this year.  

2.  The second major project I am undertaking over the next 6 months is designing a new 4th year undergraduate seminar on "The Politics of Pandemics".  I am researching topics as varied as the ethical and social, as well as scientific and policy-related, predicaments that arise in our efforts to prevent, detect and treat different types of infectious diseases (e.g. dysentery, HIV/AIDS, smallpox, TB, malaria, SARS-CoV-2, etc.).  This research will help lay the foundations for writing a new book, over the course of the next 3 years, on pandemic justice.  I had hoped to write this book in a shorter period of time, but the current pandemic revealed many new insights and problems I think need to be addressed by a much deeper dive into the mistakes/successes of the past, as well as with the current predicament. 

These two projects will permit me to pursue two quite disparate (though related) intellectual pursuits- (1) canvassing the political theories advanced in the past for grappling with topics like democratic governance, human nature, statism vs anarchism, feminism, conservatism, racial inequality, utilitarianism, Marxism, etc.  And (2) exploring the perils and successes of our attempt to mitigate the risks posed by inhabiting a planet with over 1400 different infectious organisms that cause disease in humans.  Both are projects I am passionate about, and they should help keep me engaged and productive for the foreseeable future. 

Meanwhile, I am hopeful that some warmer weather will soon be on the horizon, as well as a lifting of the current lockdown restrictions and hopefully something resembling "normality" can return this year.