The goals of these projects are for you to put together the various things we have been learning this semester in order to engage in collegiate-level research. You will investigate a particular apocalyptic scenario in order to make some argument about that topic.
For the apocalypse project you will first consider the top ten threats against the world as identified by the Global Catastrophic Risk Report. You will choose one of the top ten threats of global extinction to explore in depth. Your specific research questions will vary depending upon your interests. I am giving you a topic rather than a question. You will want to narrow that topic as you research and decide how you want to advance the academic conversation around that topic.
You could, for instance, focus on a particular course of action that would prevent your apocalypse and the complications of taking this action (and arguing for/against doing this action). You could be interested in ethical or definitional questions: What is right/wrong during a pandemic? What is a “person” in light of Artificial Intelligence? Why can’t humans conceive and prepare for an asteroid collision? Are there advantages to nuclear weapons? Is are search for knowledge (AI, nuclear, etc) inherently dangerous? Do we want to prevent this particular “apocalypse?” Assuming this apocalypse does happen (or is unpreventable) what are actions we could take after it occurs? Perhaps you want to make an argument about how society is changing because of this possible apocalypse or you want to argue that our cultural preconceptions of this apocalypse are dangerous. Maybe you want to look at how the media portrays this apocalypse and argue for it being dangerously unrealistic. You could research attitudes that the general population has towards some aspect of your apocalypse and make an argument as to why we hold those attitudes. You could end up discussing the nature of fear and why humans are afraid of certain things and not others. Maybe you stumble across an odd rabbit whole that leads you to argue for nihilism or the need for humanity to embrace its own transience.
You do not need to know at the start of this project what you are arguing for. You should have some questions and those questions will, if you are doing good research, multiple and become more specific. Eventually, you will settle in on one particular question that you want to answer.
You can be a practical or a philosophical as you would like for this final project but you MUST make an argument that is your own and comes about through the information you have gathered. As you discover you argument, you will undoubtedly have to do further research to discover who might be arguing similar things or arguing against you. Keep in mind that there are not right or wrong arguments; there are just claims that are more or less supportable with evidence. Make sure you can support your claim.
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