Perspective on Vegetarianism

I’ve been asked countless times, “why are you vegetarian?” yet every time, the question stumps me. I usually just say, “meat doesn’t seem like a food to me,” and then struggle to explain what that means. I have been vegetarian since I was three, but I could never attribute the reason to any environmental, ethical, religious, or health causes. Recently, I think I’ve finally found a cohesive answer to this question in some articles by Paul Rozin, an influential author on the subject of disgust.

There is a type of disgust that makes us withdraw from things that remind us that we are fundamentally biological creatures. This disgust involves things such as death, corpses, and violations of the external boundaries of the body. It is called animal-nature disgust, and it differs from core disgust, the fear of incorporating offending substances with one’s body and interpersonal disgust, direct and indirect contact with strangers or undesirables. The latter two types of disgust are meant to prevent contamination of our bodies and keep us from getting sick. However, animal-nature disgust is different in that it has a strong connection to fear of death. Just like animal bodies, human bodies die. I do not eat meat because it reminds me that we, like animals, are vulnerable and mortal.

The Two Tenets of Olin

Olin’s curricular triangle is separated into Engineering, Entrepreneurship, and Arts/Humanities/Social Science. However, distinguishing between Anthropology, Entrepreneurship Capstone, and Dynamics from the class codes AHSE1199, AHSE4590, and ENGR2340 is difficult. By lumping entrepreneurship, arts, humanities, and social science into the ‘other’ category, we are simply left with engineering.

Instead of consolidating these other disciplines, we should strive to incorporate them into our engineering classes.

Though Olin is a school with no departments, there is stratification between many of the subject areas. The very idea of an AHS Capstone discourages integrated classes and urges us to stick to a single path within a narrowly defined subject matter. During out entrepreneurship foundation class, we struggle to come up with an idea in two weeks, when we could instead be doing this in parallel with UOCD’s market research. Rather than dismissively combining classes, we have an opportunity to meaningfully integrate them.

By simply asking for a change in the way that class codes are written, we can open up the discussion of potential changes to the curriculum as a whole. Olin is advertised for our innovative educational approach, and limiting the curriculum to a single field does not represent what we want to accomplish.

Olin as an Innovator

Though Olin is marketed for our innovative educational approach, the curriculum and teaching methods are becoming increasingly stagnant. As an institution, we have managed to create a successful project-based and self-directed learning environment, which is well-renowned by many other universities. However, with this pressure to be a role model for other schools and have positive media surrounding us, we are stifling environments that are conducive to change. We are left with the choice to either model what we have done or continue progressing engineering education by making mistakes and figuring out what works.

Without this external pressure on reputation, we could begin experimenting with areas of the curriculum that are so often overlooked. We could think about fundamental changes to the three tenets at Olin and figure out where entrepreneurship and the arts and humanities belong. The introductory science courses could be replaced with integrated classes, and we could apply our own interests and passions to course material. As students, we could ask for the option to pursue non-accredited degrees from the school and have more of a choice in what and how we learn. We should not have to feel as if we have to sit through required classes, stay awake, and struggle to motivate ourselves. The professors here are incredibly open to change, and if we are willing to make sacrifices, we could make great advances in teaching and learning. There are so many ideas that are incredibly inspiring, empowering, and contagious that should not just be lost in the nuances of the system.

By marketing ourselves as a school with an innovative curriculum rather than a school that is constantly changing, we risk losing the very innovation that we are marketing. The students who apply to the school are beginning to change as Olin’s name grows. We are seeing fewer people who are eager to build from the ground up and attracted to an environment that is risk-taking. We are taught to reach far and stub our toes on our projects. We need to be doing the same with our curriculum. After a decade spent trying to perfect our original aspirations, we should pause and look at opportunities to innovate engineering education. We need to make sure that we do not stop innovating simply because what we have works.

Green Space

greenSpaceThere has been a lot of talk recently about insects being the new sustainable source of protein, as they have a high nutritive value and a ubiquitous presence. However, there is another source of sustainable protein that is being produced daily and thrown away without a second thought. The human placenta, the organ that connects the fetus to the uterine wall, can be cooked, sliced, dehydrated, encapsulated into a pill, or frozen in small chunks that can be blended into a smoothie.

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Green Space: Dumpster-Diver’s Dilemma

greenSpaceco-authored by: Maggie Sue

Everyone at Olin has come into the dorm lounges only to find themselves surrounded by piles of bread, post-Valentine’s day candy, pizza, and other miscellaneous foods. There exists a small group of Oliners who regularly collect these treasures from local stores that run low on shelf space, find packaging imperfections, or dispose of food nearing its sell-by date. However, there is much more to this practice than happily collecting a dumpster’s contents.

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