Futurist Jim Dator Galvanizes The Audience at ISU Central Campus


Jim Dator enlightens Strasbourg: his very last class held at the International Space University (ISU) galvanizes the audience. ISU MSS19 student Dr. Fabio Zecca MD, reports. “Passion. A fundamental element for whomever would like to engage the teaching career.

A teacher with no passion for his own subject will never be able to elicit the same impetus, and to inject the same curiosity that is actually transmitted by a way of teaching so alive, so dynamic, so galvanizing.

The latter would be another good adjective to properly describe the classes of Prof. James Allen “Jim” Dator, University of Hawaii, who has honored the International Space University in Strasbourg with his last, great series of classes on the human side of Space exploration, previously introduced by another estimable faculty, Prof. Christopher “Chris” Welch.

The polyedricity with which he engages thorny topics like religion and politics, and the dynamism that characterizes his lessons of history and art in Space, definitely resulted to be key elements for this Space Humanities course’s goal to be accomplished, and for conquering a resounding professional victory. His slides, which always assist his lectures, are themselves dynamic, almost as they could talk, animated by a pleasant theatricality: from the strategic punctuation, to the expressive layout, ending with a corollary of pictures, carefully selected and always on the clock.

Practically all the key points of the humanistic side involved in the Space sector have been discussed: Origins of the Space Age, Cultural Rationales for Space Activities, Space Futures, Spaceship Earth, Space Governance, The Arts and Space. Thus that is not media murmurs nor sectorial hegemony, what it is based upon: that of Prof. Dator is a true talent, built on solid cultural bases and on the skills of a multidisciplinary specialist, surrounded by the dialectics of an able politician or a Hollywood actor, and by the philanthropy of an ancient Maecenas.

The fundamental concept transmitted by Prof. Dator can be so translated: the Space sector cannot rely only on technological advancements, on scientific progress, on systems’ branched organization, on international cooperation: the humanistic components have being always playing a fundamental role in mankind’s evolution, even with its intrinsic blends and facets; mankind is aiming to Space not with just a purely mechanical spirit, but it is still attached and connected with its most deep natural component, that is the one which turns “man” into “human”.

From a strictly personal point of view, I’ve actually found plenty of analogies between my own line of thought and the Professor’s one; this doesn’t happen so often, indeed. His vision of the world overlapped with mine in several different points, but his way of expressing that vision greatly fascinated and inspired me and my colleagues.

His prestigious career could not end otherwise: the audience stood up, clapped, yelled, in a wavy and warm standing ovation, filling the Galaxy Auditorium with respect, estimation, and admiration.

It was a particular applause, though: the applause of an international class ready to launch into Space the fundamental values of the human being.”

Photo credits: ISU