The Racial Politics of Science

Racial justice scholars and advocates have for decades recognized that scientific and academic communities in the United States are affected by and participate in the systemic marginalization of Black and brown communities. There are disproportionately few faculty of color in U.S. higher education, and a combination of structural disadvantage, systemic biases, and widespread prejudices render it difficult for persons from marginalized communities to attain faculty and administrative positions in the academy. Meanwhile, communities of color disproportionately bear costs and risks of scientific knowledge generation and technological innovation while often receiving relatively fewer benefits and opportunities from those same activities. Often, the tools of science and high technology are designed and implemented in ways that contribute to the continued surveillance, oppression, and marginalization of Black and brown communities. The Black Lives Matter movement and associated discussions have recently brought greater public attention to many of these issues. Now more than ever, it is imperative for scientists, engineers, and scholars to work to understand and remediate racism in the sciences and the academy. Only by diligent attention and with intentional anti-racist efforts can scientific and academic institutions, and the societies of which they are part, be made more just, equitable, and inclusive. Join three young scholars working at the intersection of science, technology, and society for a frank discussion on minority experiences and advocacy in the academy. Speakers: Damien Patrick Williams is a PhD candidate at Virginia Tech in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society. His research areas include ethics, epistemology, philosophy of technology, values and bias in algorithms and AI, comparative religions, human biotechnological interventions, popular culture, and the occult. Damien is a board member with the Just Space Alliance, a non-profit organization focused on advocating “for a more inclusive and ethical future in space, and to harness visions of tomorrow for a more just and equitable world today.” Mara Dicenta is a PhD candidate in Science & Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with an interest in Feminist Science Studies. She studies how environmental science is entangled with colonial, inter-species, and inter-generational (in)justices in Latin America. With a background in Anthropology, she has conducted fieldwork with biologists in Tierra del Fuego to examine how science reproduces racialized natures and forms of privilege. Mara has published her work in journals like Arcadia Environment & Society, Science as Culture, and Somatosphere, and she has participated in collaborative work with biologists for journals like Conservation Biology. Salah Hamdoun is a doctoral student in the Innovation in Global Development (IGD) Program at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society in the College of Global Futures at Arizona State University. His research interests lie in the area of financial inclusion, financial technology, and human development. Specifically, Salah’s work focuses on the power dynamics and relationships within societies and the impact of financialization on the social structures in Morocco. He has over ten years of professional experience in money markets, financial derivatives, and alternative investments. He started his career at ABN Amro Bank and has worked for institutions such as Standard Chartered Bank and Mashreqbank. Salah is currently the Administrator of the IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society. Sponsors: STGlobal is a graduate-student-led consortium of professional and academic groups, organizing learning-centered events for early-career scholars and practitioners in the social and policy dimensions of science and technology. STGlobal is supported by Arizona State University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

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