Cameron Ashkar, a junior international relations major, wants to classify what space music, space fashion and space art are. Ashkar, the president of the new student organization Students for a Global Alliance for Outer Space Development, said he wants to gather Webster University students of all majors to discuss the future of outer space development.
“The artist, the musicians, the social behavioral scientists …” Ashkar said. “We’re hoping to have an original space organization in the sense that instead of creating this cookie-cutter approach to space that attracts only scientists, we’re opening up outer space and saying ‘What does space mean to you?’ and leave that question up to the masses.”
Ashkar formed the organization at the end of last semester, spring 2012. This semester, his plans for the organization include a rocket launch, coproducing a space documentary with the film department and eventually hosting a space conference at the Moonrise Hotel on Delmar Loop.
The documentary Ashkar wants to begin will be called “Generation Space” and will feature the latest space technologies, a student-created animation and will hopefully culminate in footage of Ashkar’s flight into space on a specially engineered hot air balloon.
“The technologies are amazing out there,” Ashkar said. “But people don’t realize it. So if we can start activating, encouraging, exciting interest in outer space and in all these technologies, that’s gonna be a big catalyst.”
Ashkar said his interest in space is “social.” He said he links outer space development with global citizenship, which he defines as when “you have a global perspective so then you’ll see the whole earth as your home. And then you’ll be able to see the universe as your world.”
Edythe Weeks, a professor at Webster, is the adviser for the club. She teaches international relations courses at the graduate level, including International Law and the Politics of Outer Space. Weeks encouraged Ashkar in his desire to start a student organization concerned with space.
“I think it would make students feel empowered,” Weeks said of the club. “To be involved in something that’s new, that’s global, something that would allow them to go in the history books.”
Ashkar said the group is open to all majors, even those outside of the sciences. His plans include a space conference at the Moonrise Hotel, with exhibition on space art, space fashion and space music. He said he needs students within these majors, though, to help him define these concepts, to “really bring space to Earth.”
Meredith Cristal, a senior art major, attended the organization’s first meeting on Thursday, Aug. 23.
“I think it’s really great that he’s so positive about it,” Cristal said. “I think, personally, maybe I would attend some of their (Students for a Global Alliance for Outer Space Development) events. I don’t know if I would be interested in helping to plan any of those events.”
The club currently has approximately 25 members, but Ashkar said he hopes the numbers will go up as the semester continues. He said he hopes his message reaches as much of the Webster population as possible.
“A lot of the hurdles in creating a spacefaring race are social hurdles,” Ashkar said. “To step into the arena of a spacefaring race and introducing emerging trends, and talking about ways to excite the general public about outer space, we’ve connected global citizenship as an initiative.”