March 23, 2017

Shedding Light on Illumination Technologies: Georgetown Welcomes Visiting Researcher Taylor Stone

Shedding Light on Illumination Technologies: Georgetown Welcomes Visiting Researcher Taylor Stone

“How should we light our world at night?” This is the question Taylor Stone constantly asks himself and what primarily guides his research.

Since February, Stone has been at Georgetown as a visiting researcher with the Ethics Lab at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.

Solving the Issue of Light Pollution

“Artificial nighttime lighting has become a ubiquitous technology, fading into the background of daily life,” Stone explains, but he believes darkness should not always be avoided—in fact it can be good.

“Our nights are getting brighter annually, raising concerns about energy usage, costs, health effects, ecological impacts, and the disappearance of the night sky,” he remarks. “Serious questions about nighttime lighting—how much to light, when to light, and what technologies to use—must be addressed.”

With these questions in mind, Stone is developing a case study on nighttime lighting at Georgetown. Since being on campus, he has met with different stakeholders, learning about the school’s lighting landscape. “Through studying the values, goals, ideals, [and] considerations at play here,” Stone says, “I hope to produce a final project that is a useful addition to the lighting efforts already underway on campus.”

Contributing to International Research

Nearly 4,000 miles away from his base of Delft University, Stone is in the midst of completing his doctoral research centered on the ethics of technology. His three-month stay in America is a result of his partnership with the 4TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology, a Dutch organization that supports the global work of Ph.D. candidates.

Stone was particularly drawn to Georgetown’s Ethics Lab when considering where he would conduct his visit. An incubator for projects with goals of building an ethical world, the lab is housed in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics (KIE) and offers innovative methods of teaching and analysis. Furthering the perfect match, its mission closely aligns with Stone’s research, which he explains, “explores the convergence of different areas in applied ethics: ethics of technology, environmental ethics, and ethics in architecture and urban design.” Stone will utilize the lab’s hands-on approach to further assist his case study at Georgetown.

A Unique, Interdisciplinary Trajectory

A traditional path in academia has not been the norm for Stone. Prior to his doctoral studies, he earned his master’s degree in environmental studies from York University in Canada and his B.A. from the University of Toronto. Stone also gained experiences in the field when he worked for Toronto’s environmental nonprofit sector before turning to his Ph.D. His passion for supporting a more sustainable, just earth propels his current investigation of artificial light in cities and more specifically at Georgetown.

Working with the Georgetown Community

In addition to his research on university lighting, Stone served as a guest critic for the philosophy course Data Ethics, which is sponsored by the Ethics Lab. In this role, he directly engaged with Georgetown students, providing feedback on their midterm design projects.

When asked about his experiences at Georgetown thus far, Stone shared that it has been “quite interesting to learn about how [lighting] concerns are incorporated into a historic campus with important aesthetic considerations regarding heritage and tradition.” In addition to these discoveries, he explained that the university community “has been extremely welcoming, both at KIE and the broader university,” providing him with “their time, insights, and information about campus lighting.”

Read more about Taylor Stone’s research at the Kennedy Institute’s Ethics Lab from this Q&A.