the years in college could have in a real world setting.
At the end of the first week, I left to finish my finals
at Brown, but the conference went on. A week later, I
got the news that a new climate agreement had been
reached - the first in over 20 years. Not perfect, but it is
still a substantial policy outcome that will pave the way
for more action to be done in the years to come.
I continue to work as a climate change policy
research assistant at Brown’s Climate Development
Lab and it’s a fulfilling experience for me, knowing I
can do my part in sustaining the environment.
If environmentalism is my way of caring for the Earth that
we live on, then space exploration is my way of caring
for all of God’s creation that exists outside of it.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the
skies proclaim the work of his hands.
(Psalm 19:1, NIV)
Space, outer space, is just an observable marvelous statement
of God’s majesty. The more I learn about it, the more I feel awed
by the incredible care with which God created the universe.
Thus I, as a Christian, feel the need to learn more about it.
Since my youth, I’ve been fascinated with space, developing
an interest in astronomy as a kid and eventually pursuing
it in a competitive manner all the way through high school.
One of the reasons I chose Physics at Brown was so that
I could potentially pursue Astrophysics as a concentration
here. While my academic concentration declaration did not
exactly line up the way I intended initially, I found my way of
chasing this fascination with space through other means.
In one of the business classes I took as a freshman, I decided
to tackle the problem of ‘Why aren’t more people interested
in space?’ as a business problem. Working together with
a friend of mine, we designed an app that would introduce
more teachers and thus students to the wonders of space.
Yet, that was not enough. In my sophomore summer, we
decided to reconvene and tackle the bigger problem of why
society as a whole isn’t interested in space exploration. We
concluded after a semester-long independent study that it’s
because most people simply don’t see a connection between
what they study academically and space exploration.
Traditionally, space education is perceived as just exclusively
for scientists/ engineers/ mathematicians - but we wanted
to break down that barrier. We wanted to make it something
that people from diverse backgrounds can still take part in.
Thus began Metaplaneta – a creative think tank that
tries to explore an interdisciplinary approach to space
exploration. Together with a fellowship awarded to us by
Brown, a friend and I convened our junior summer and
implemented workshops in Singapore, Japan and here
at Brown, on how we can make the connection between
multiple academic fields and space exploration.
If environmentalism is my way of caring
for the Earth that we live on, then space
exploration is my way of caring for all
God’s creation that exists outside of it.
My junior summer research for Metaplaneta ended up taking
me to interview various professionals from space policy
experts at the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
(COPUOS) meeting in Vienna, Austria to the chief scientist of
the European Space Agency (ESA) in Noordwijk, Netherlands
and finally to businessmen involved in the space industry at
a conference in Munich, Germany amongst others. The aim
of the summer research was to find a proof of concept for
Metaplaneta, which we did, and in the process made numerous
network connections who’d help us later in our workshops.
Our workshops incorporated professionals and students
from diverse fields such as architecture, business, politics
and science amongst others, to solve problems in space
through an integrated design approach (IDA). Not only were
the students and professionals able to learn from one another,
but it also encouraged the students to make a connection
between their non-science/math backgrounds and space.
Overall, the workshops had the cumulative effect of getting
people excited about space, a realm of God’s creation
which I feel all humans should indeed be excited about.
In fact, one of the speakers we had in the event we organized
at Brown, Space Horizons 2016, was a Christian theology
professor from Germany who spoke about the intersection
of space and religion – it got many in the audience to think
about both religion and space with a new perspective.
As I continue to plan what shape our venture Metaplaneta
might take after graduation and how my involvement with
environmentalism will evolve, I’m still left in astonishment
how far God has brought me and where else He’ll take me.
I am doing what I can, to pursue my passions “heartily” as I
would to the Lord and not simply for myself or towards Man.
In the end, I want to be able to say, just as Paul did:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished
the race, I have kept the faith.
(2 Timothy 4:7, NIV)
Despite being a graduating senior (by God’s grace) I am still a
little lost - I care deeply about many issues, maybe too many.
But then again, why should a Christian ever stop caring?
Sujay Natson is a senior concentrating in
Political Science and Geology.