A humanitarian tragedy has unfolded in Gaza over the past seven weeks, with 70% of the territory’s 2.3 million residents losing their homes or fleeing from them. Packed into emergency shelters, many Gazans lack access to food, clean water and medicine. These resources are vital. But so is another: finding and creating beauty. As art philosopher Arthur Danto once noted, beauty, while optional for art, is not an option for life.

Clark University visiting scholar Stephanie Acker and research partner Devora Neumark have spent years studying the creative and resourceful ways in which refugees beautify their surroundings.

There is nothing superficial about this impulse, the two scholars have found.

“Simple acts – rearranging a home, sweeping the floor or intentionally placing an object – allow refugees to infuse an area with their own identity and taste,” they write. “They provide a way to cope when one has little control over anything else.”

This week we also liked articles about Rep. George Santos’ prolific lies, how Philadelphia’s coffee shop baristas feel about the gentrification happening in their midst, and the benefits to society of educating people while they’re incarcerated.

Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

A Palestinian boy climbs on a painted wall in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City in 2015. AP Photo/Hatem Moussa

In the face of death, destruction and displacement, beauty plays a vital role in Gaza

Stephanie Acker, Clark University

When people find themselves displaced from their homes, finding or creating beauty can be just as vital as food, water and shelter − and serves as a form of resistance and resilience.

Temperature sensitivity makes western fence lizards vulnerable to climate change. Greg Shine/BLM

Lizards, fish and other species are evolving with climate change, but not fast enough

Michael P. Moore, University of Colorado Denver; James Stroud, Georgia Institute of Technology

From dark dragonflies becoming paler to plants flowering earlier, some species are slowly evolving with the climate. Evolutionary biologists explain why few will evolve fast enough.

Sociology researchers at Temple University interviewed 61 Philadelphia baristas who work in gentrifying neighborhoods. Maskot/Getty Images

Are rents rising in your Philly neighborhood? Don’t blame the baristas

Geoff Moss, Temple University

When it comes to gentrification, Philadelphia baristas say they’re ‘part of the problem.’ But as low-wage workers, where else should they live and work?

The Conversation Quiz 🧠

  • Here’s the first question of this week’s edition:

    For maximum protection from bacteria when preparing your Thanksgiving turkey, the USDA recommends that you ...

    1. A. Baste it with Neosporin
    2. B. Boil it for 10 minutes before cooking
    3. C. Leave it unwashed
    4. D. Roast it until it's dry and tasteless

    Test your knowledge