Nicholls State University

Nicholls Professor Releases Book on Social Aspect of Humans Living Off Earth


THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls State University professor seeks to further the conversation on the social ramifications of life in space in a new book.

Political science assistant professor Dr. James Gilley has written “Space Civilization: An Inquiry into the Social Questions for Humans Living in Space.” The book was released by Lexington Books last month.

As several projects look at settling Mars, how the efforts handle the human component will be as important as the technology that sustains life on the barren planet. “Space Civilization” will pose questions on issues that will arise, such as identity, conflict and governance.

“While a few answers are explored, this book is meant to kickstart a larger conversation about what social and human questions we will face as we attempt to become a multi-planetary species,” Dr. Gilley said. “Until now, most of that discussion has focused on the nuts and bolts engineering and technical questions. But the fact that we are talking about having human beings live and work in space and on other celestial bodies makes this a much more interesting question. Humans are much less predictable, and that makes the human questions much more difficult to answer.”

Gilley said the book will appeal to social scientists, but he wrote it with a broad audience in mind. Space Civilization will appeal to anyone interested in how human society would function in space and wants to contribute to that conversation.

Humans becoming Martians could happen sooner than most might think. Depending on how society invests in the project, Dr. Gilley estimates it could happen in as little time as 15 years.

Space Civilization shows that smaller institutions like Nicholls can be at the forefront of cutting edge topics.

“At four-year universities like Nicholls, the social sciences are often relegated to the role of simply teaching students,” he said. “While I deeply believe that that is the core mission of any educational institution, we have more to offer. Nicholls can be at the forefront of big human discussion, and the political science department can attract high-quality students and faculty willing to research and discuss the big questions about humanity’s future.”

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