South Georgia State College

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Lightfoot presentation on colonization is well received at recent workshop

If the United States tried to colonize another planet in the solar system, would the effort be successful?  Maybe, but only with the right amount of preparation, says Dr. Robert Lightfoot, associate professor of criminal justice/sociology at South Georgia State College.

Lightfoot presented his findings recently at the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

“If we go to Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn, we better make sure we have everything in order,” said Lightfoot.  “This includes who’s in charge, making sure there are enough supplies, and other necessary things.”

To support his point, Lightfoot cited historical evidence of failed colonization attempts dating back to the early 16th century.  Spanish conquistador Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon attempted to colonize Georgia’s barrier islands in 1526.  Lightfoot said the colony failed due to inaccurate maps as well as tools and livestock that were not suitable to the environment.

Another expedition involved Governor Panfilo de Narvaez who also was not prepared when he arrived near present-day Tampa, Fla.

“The Spanish are a good historical model.  Their first attempts to found colonies didn’t work well.  Success was found after adjustments were made,” said Lightfoot.

Lightfoot said his presentation was “enthusiastically received” and generated many questions and much discussion.  Les Johnson, workshop coordinator, confirmed Lightfoot’s assessment.

“Dr. Lightfoot’s presentation gave workshop participants something to think about as we contemplated hypothetical first-contact situations that may arise as we extend our exploration beyond the solar system and toward the nearby stars,” he said.

For more information about Lightfoot’s presentation, email robert.lightfoot@sgsc.edu.