Communication Faculty Spotlight
By Taylor Walker
Edited by Katy Randolph
Department of Communication Associate Professor, John Lynch, wins Distinguished Book Award
What are Stem Cells? Definition at the Intersection of Science and Politics wins the NCA Health Communication Division’s Distinguished Book Award.
About the Book: In recent years political, religious, and scientific communities have engaged in an ethical debate regarding the development of and research on embryonic stem cells. Does the manipulation of embryonic stem cells destroy human life? Or do limitations imposed on stem cell research harm patients who might otherwise benefit?
“What are Stem Cells? offers readers a way to analyze and evaluate the processes used in debates around health, medicine, and science to shape what counts as the ‘facts’ in a given moment and how definition plays a key role in that process.” – John Lynch
John Lynch’s What Are Stem Cells? identifies the moral stalemate between the rights of the embryo and the rights of the patient and uses it as the framework for a larger discussion about the role of
definitions as a key rhetorical strategy in the debate. In the case of stem cells, the controversy arises from the manner in which stem cells are defined–in particular, whether they are defined with an appeal to their original source or to their future application. Definitions such as these, Lynch argues, are far more than convenient expository references; they determine the realities of any given social discourse.
Lynch addresses definitions conceptually–their stability in the face of continual technological innovation, their versatility at the crossroads of scientific and public forums, and their translations and retranslations through politics. Most importantly, his work recognizes definitions as central to issues, not only within the topic of stem cell research, but also in all argumentation.
“The Distinguished Book Award recognizes books that have or will make a substantial contribution to scholarship on health communication. I am honored that the awards committee believes that What are Stem Cells? deserves to be considered alongside the other books that have received this award in the past.” –John Lynch
About the Author: John Lynch is an associate professor of communication at the University of Cincinnati.