Cocktail Hour: Allen Thompson “Inter-generational Justice and Issues in Ecosystem Management”

Intergenerational Justice and Issues in Ecosystem Management

Pervasive and in some cases irreversible environmental change is putting great pressure on normative thinking in the fields of ecosystem management, including conservation and restoration ecology. In this talk I will present an argument based on obligations to future generations to justify decisions about allocating limited resources in the practice of ecological restoration, or under conditions of what we might call “restoration triage.” Thompson will discuss a growing field of ecological thought that concerns the increasing emergence of non-analog or “novel” ecosystems and the subsequent need to develop an “intervention” ecology to supplement historic management principles of non-intervention, arguing that an intervention ecology will be required to achieve our preservation and conservation goals in a new world of rapidly changing ecologies.

Allen Thompson is an Associate Professor of Philosophy in the School of History, Philosophy & Religion at Oregon State University. His research includes Environmental Philosophy, Philosophical Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, Practical Reason

Tuesday February 18, 2014  |  4:00-6:00pm | Science & Justice Common Room, Oakes 231

 

Science & Justice Training Program: Grad Student Informational Meeting on New Cohort

The Science and Justice Research Center is hosting an Informational Meeting for a new cohort of our nationally recognized interdisciplinary Graduate Training Program:

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 20, 2014

12:30-2:00 Muwekma Ohlone Conference Room 351

(Bay Tree Building, 3rd floor, upstairs from the Bay Tree Bookstore)

Lunch Provided

Our NSF-supported Science and Justice Training Program (SJTP) is a globally unique initiative that trains doctoral students to work across the disciplinary boundaries of the natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities and the arts. Through the SJTP we at UCSC are currently teaching a new generation of PhD students the skills of interdisciplinary collaboration, ethical deliberation, and public communication. Students in the program design collaborative research projects oriented around questions of science and justice. These research projects not only contribute to positive outcomes in the wider world, they also become the templates for new forms of problem-based and collaborative inquiry within and beyond the university.

Spring 2014 Course:
Science & Justice: Experiments in Collaboration
SOCY/BME/FMST 268A & ANTH 269A
Prof. Jenny Reardon
Tuesdays 11-2, College 8 301

Students from all departments are encouraged to attend
Prior graduate Fellows have come from every campus Division

13 Represented Departments:
Anthropology, Biomolecular Engineering, Earth & Planetary Sciences, Environmental Studies, Film and Digital Arts, Digital Arts and New Media, History of Consciousness, Literature, Philosophy, Physics, Politics, Psychology, and Sociology

As SJTP students graduate they take the skills and experience they gained in the training program into the next stage of their career in universities, industry, non-profits, and government.

Opportunities include graduate Certificate Program (pending), experience organizing and hosting colloquia series about your research, mentorship, opportunities for research funding and training in conducting interdisciplinary research at the intersections of science and society.

For more information on the Science & Justice Training Program, please see:
http://scijust.ucsc.edu/what-we-do/training/

Reardon gives talk on The Post-Genomic Condition at UCSF

Dr. Jenny Reardon, University of California, Santa Cruz, Director, Science & Justice Research Center (UCSC) presents “The Post-Genomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome” at the SBS Seminar Series at UCSF.

Once an area of science oriented around close observation, attention and description—where new technologies like computers were at best an aid, and at worst shunned—today the life sciences are a hub of technological innovation. Genomics is emblematic. The field orients around a series of impressive innovations that offer great new promise but also present a fundamental problem, the problem of the post: what come after? What is the latest and greatest technology this month becomes passé the next: Affymetrix SNP chip 6.0 today, Ion Torrent’s Ion chip tomorrow. Getting caught with the wrong set of machines, on the wrong platform, is a constant concern. Nothing endures; all is in-formation.

Without endurance, Hannah Arendt argued fifty years ago in The Human Condition, the world loses common objects. Without common objects nothing sticks around long enough for democratic deliberation or knowledge-making. Informed decisions become things of the past. The proverbial table around which we gather to deliberate and understand are lost along with the objects that used to sit on the table. We now live in this postgenomic condition, after objects, after democracy, in-formation. How can we know and how can we govern in this state? The talk draws upon a decade of fieldwork focused on meaning-making and governance practices in genomics in order to consider this question that lies at the heart of the postgenomic condition.

Monday, February 10, 2014 | 3:30 – 5:00| Laurel Heights Campus, Room 474, UCSF

WiSE Winter Luncheon: Addressing Gender Bias in the Sciences

WiSE Winter Luncheon:
Addressing Gender Bias in the Sciences

When: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, 12pm – 2pm
Where: Alumni Room at the University Center (map)
Who: You! All education levels and genders welcome
FREE buffet lunch provided, but only for those who RSVP by Tuesday, Jan. 28

Moderator:
Jenny Reardon, Director of the Science & Justice Research Center, UCSC

Panelists:
Karen Barad, Professor of Feminist Studies, UCSC
Nancy Heischman, Director of Campus Conflict Resolution Services, UCSC
Campbell Leaper, Professor of Psychology, UCSC
Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, Professor of Astronomy, UCSC

By popular demand, the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) group is hosting a luncheon on gender bias in the sciences. Have you ever wondered how to recognize and/or deal with gender bias in STEM careers? Have you known people who have been biased against, but are unsure of how to help them? Are you afraid that you yourself might be biased? Are you interested in the status of women in STEM fields? If you said yes to any of these questions, this luncheon is for you!

The luncheon will feature brief speeches by each of the panelists on their opinions on gender bias in the sciences, followed by a discussion moderated by Jenny Reardon. Afterwards, we will have a Q&A session for audience members to participate in! If you have questions/topics that you would like the panelists to discuss at the luncheon, you may submit them anonymously via this form.

Undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty of all genders are welcome. However, space is limited, so please fill out this RSVP form by Tuesday, January 28th.

Please contact Kim (tenggard@biology.ucsc.edu) with any questions regarding this event.

Science and Justice in an Age of Big Data: Biomedical Privacy & Genomic Openness

Peter Yu, David Haussler and Jenny Reardon Discuss the Meeting of Biomedical Privacy and Genomic Openness

On January 22, 2014, the Science & Justice Working Group is hosting the first in a series of ongoing conversations about the unresolved issues raised by the recent push to expand efforts to collect and aggregate biological samples and data.  Jenny Reardon (Science & Justice Research Center Director and Associate Professor of Sociology) will facilitate a conversation between Peter Yu (incoming President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Director of Cancer Research (ASCO) at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation) and David Haussler (Director of the UCSC Center for Biomolecular Sciences and Engineering).  Peter Yu is a renowned medical oncologist and hematologist who has pioneered the advance of health information technology and its use to improve medical care.  The American Society of Clinical Oncology is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer, and has played a lead role in erasing the stigma around cancer through developing and sharing knowledge that promotes cancer prevention and treatment.  In March of this year ASCO announced CancerLinQ, a major effort to collect data on hundreds of thousands of cancer patients to further advance cancer research and treatments. David Haussler is a pioneer in the field of bioinformatics whose group assembled and posted the first working draft of the human genome on the Internet, and is now innovating computer algorithms that will enable the use genomic data in the transformation of cancer care. In June of this year, Haussler and his colleagues announced a “Global Alliance” to foster the sharing of genomic and clinical data that CancerLinQ and other similar efforts require.  Yu and Haussler will discuss the challenges and opportunities raised by efforts to harness big data approaches to biomedical research.

As both Yu and Haussler are keenly aware, aggregating patient tissues and data raises entangled ethical and technical concerns. Finding the proper balance between personal privacy, medical and scientific autonomy, and equitable public benefits is at the heart of multiple recent controversies, including the sequencing and subsequent publication of Henrietta Lacks’ genome and neonatal blood biobanking.  These episodes make clear that the ability of informatic technologies to broaden and deepen the analysis of personal data raises issues that go to the heart of democratic governance. As a society, we have long associated personal control over our own bodies and privacy with full citizenship. Yet we also highly value transparency and knowledge sharing and view both as critical aspects of an open society, and as necessary components of scientific progress.  Today, as aggregated biomedical data become both more useful and more risky, we confront a difficult conflict between the value of privacy and the value of openness.

In an age of widespread social media usage, it is an increasingly familiar task to balance these values in our daily lives. Yet Science & Justice Research Center Director Jenny Reardon recently experienced this tension between privacy and openness in a surprising new way when she had an appointment with a physician at UC San Francisco (UCSF) and was asked to sign a UCSF Terms of Service Form.  That form told her that she “understood” that UCSF could use her tissues and/or medical data in research and that she had no property rights in these tissues/data. Despite being an expert in biomedicine, ethics and society, she found that she did not know what she was being told she “understood” in order that she might receive the medical services of UCSF. Reardon reflected on this experience in an article entitled “Should patients understand that they are research subjects?” that appeared on March 2, 2013 as the cover story for the San Francisco Chronicles Sunday Magazine Insight. This article circulated widely, and resulted in Yu contacting Reardon, establishing an ongoing conversation about the future of medical privacy, trust, and informatics.

At the heart of problem is a confusing mix of U.S. case law that denies ownership over one’s bodily tissues once they have left one’s body, medical privacy standards that require providers and researchers to inform you that they may use the tissues for research without directly requesting permission, and the speed at which medical advances are occurring. Given these conditions, it is more difficult than ever to know what one is agreeing to when one signs ubiquitous Terms of Service and informed consent forms.

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board published an editorial along with Reardons article that suggested that the US Department of Health and Human Services revise its standards for medical consent. The editors proposed that the HHS standards foster full disclosure and clear communication with patients that more fully addressed questions of who will own and benefit from the collection and distribution of tissues and data.  They also published a response from UCSF’s Elizabeth A. Boyd, associate vice chancellor for ethics and compliance, and Daniel Dohan, associate professor of health policy and social medicine. Boyd and Dohan argued that the success of personalized medicine rests on relationships of trust between physicians, researchers and patients. They noted that UCSF supports revising consent standards, and cite the recent creation of EngageUC, an initiative on the part of UC physicians and faculty to develop new comprehensive guidelines.

Within a few weeks of this discussion in the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times published an Op-Ed by Rebecca Skloot (author of bestselling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) that called for the development of international standards to protect the privacy of genetic data.  This call followed in the wake of the sequencing and publication of the HeLa cell line genome without the consent of the family of Henrietta Lacks, the African American woman whose cells were used to make the cell lines (again, without her consent). The New York Times followed with an article a few weeks later that discussed the concerns of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, about patient privacy and the lack of transparency on who has access to patient health data. More recently the NIH’s chief Francis Collins personally worked with Lacks' family to develop a protocol for accessing the HeLa genome data that aimed to balance researchers’ needs with the family’s desire for privacy.

This discomfort bubbling up on the national stage has led to calls to change the Common Rule (the set of laws that govern federally-funded biomedical research in the U.S.), which currently allows for collection of tissues and data from patients as long as anonymity is maintained. It has become clear that anonymity in an age of openness is at best an uncertain policy instrument.  In addition to its technical limits, anonymity does not address the underlying concerns about who will be served by the mining of genomic and health data, and how concerns about privacy, property and justice can be addressed while fostering the creation of new knowledge needed to advance medical care.  Both Yu and Haussler are leading efforts that seek to do a better job fostering innovative research while attending to these fundamental ethical and policy issues, knowing that we need to do both if we are to advance cancer research and care.

The conversation between Peter Yu and David Haussler, facilitated by Jenny Reardon, will be the first of several dialogues planned by the Science & Justice Research Center that aim to help clarify these issues at stake in the evolving relationship between openness and privacy in the biomedical sciences.

Wednesday January 22, 2014 |4:00-6:00PM | Engineering 2, Room  599

"Science & Justice in the age of Big Data: A Conversation between Peter Yu and David Haussler"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
22 January 2014
Rapporteur Report by Lizzy Hare
This event was the first in a series of events on justice in an era of big data, one of the
Center’s themes for the year. The working group meeting was a conversation between Peter Yu
(incoming President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Director of Cancer
Research at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation) and David Haussler (Director of the UCSC
Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering) about genome data and the future of cancer
research. Julie Harris (Assistant Adjunct Professor at UCSF, Institute on Health and Aging;
Staff Scientist at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research; and Associate Director of the Center
for Translational Genomics and Ethics) provided commentary. Science & Justice Center
Director Jenny Reardon moderated the conversation and introduced the panelists.

Reardon’s introduction provided an overview of some of the concerns that the working
group hopes to pursue with this series. Genome research is seen as powerful, and cancer
research can now studies the genomic changes that occur during the development of cancer. The
techniques that were developed in Haussler’s lab to understand the human genome are now being
used to think about cancer and evolution. This kind of genomic research would benefit greatly
from additional data that could be collected from cancer patients, but doing so raises ethical,
epistemological, and infrastructural questions. As a society, we have yet to figure out what to do
with big data. At present we mostly collect data of unknown significance, but there is no clear
precedent for who governs it, how to store it, or how to make sense of it. Who pays to store it?
Who gets to work with it and try to make sense of it? As the first of many working group
meetings to discuss this issue, the goal for this meeting was to outline which of these questions
needs further discussion.

Peter Yu spoke first, speaking from the perspective of a doctor practicing clinical
oncology. He described the efforts of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to
accelerate learning and analysis through computerized health care. They envision a rapid
learning system model, which would allow clinicians to generate new data and better models
while treating patients, by incorporating data from clinical practice instead of just clinical trials.
Such a system would require that patients and doctors be willing to share data, and it presents
problems for managing data, such as standardizing it and safeguarding it in a centralized
repository. The organization is still in the process of funding these efforts, but they are trying to
address these ethical and epistemological questions before they arise.

David Haussler followed up by first thanking Yu for his organization’s efforts, which he
sees as a tremendous boon to cancer care. Speaking from the point of view of a data scientist,
Haussler argues that big data is absolutely necessary for cancer research. Most mutations are
insignificant and very few are meaningful, so in order to establish a clear understanding of the
drivers of cancer, there needs to be a large number of genomes available to work with. These
numbers are unobtainable in the current system of clinical trials and academic research, but they
would be accessible if information could be captured from clinical practice. Haussler is hoping
that under Yu’s guidance the ASCO will be able to incorporate data collection into medical
practice. Yu agreed, saying that he believed the “holy grail” for cancer research would be a
healthcare system that engages people in research without sacrificing their rights.

Julie Harris provided her comments at this point, reminding us that the strong division
between research and clinical practice was established as a response to the Belmont report. At
the time the ability to distinguish between the two was useful, but times have changed. Big data
has brought new challenges, but a lack of community involvement in research continues to be a
concern. With Kaiser, she has been involved in a project to build a biorepository that members
can volunteer to donate samples to. The samples are linked to clinical records and environmental
databases so that they may be used to research gene-environment interactions. This project has
been successful so far. Harris attributes at least part of the success to a community advisory
panel that brings together diverse representatives of the public. According to Harris, many of the
participants don’t fully understand the program but trust Kaiser to use the information in a way
that may benefit them someday.

Trust was a primary concern during the question and answer session. Some audience
members were concerned that storage for big data is not secure; that that the information could
be accessed by governments or individuals with malicious intent. This is especially problematic
when the information could easily be de-identified using phenotypic information. Yu mentioned
that there had been a study on establishing and maintaining trust around research samples, and
that most people were more concerned with what the information was used for than who was
using it. This is troublesome for two reasons, one, because it is difficult to anticipate what the
information might be used for in the future, and two, it is not always clear who the “who” is that
might eventually use the data, as institutions are increasingly amorphous. Researchers often try
to maintain trust by assuring donors that the samples will be used for good, but the notion of
good is itself abstract and a part of the question of justice that the working group will continue to
explore at future events.

SJRC in conversation with Peter Yu and David Haussler

Peter Yu, David Haussler and Jenny Reardon Discuss the Meeting of Biomedical Privacy and Genomic Openness

Rap Report > Science and Justice in an Age of Big Data: A Conversation with Peter Yu and David Haussler

On January 22, 2014, the Science & Justice Working Group hosted the first in a series of ongoing conversations about the unresolved issues raised by the recent push to expand efforts to collect and aggregate biological samples and data.  Jenny Reardon (Science & Justice Research Center Director and Associate Professor of Sociology) facilitated this conversation between Peter Yu (incoming President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Director of Cancer Research (ASCO) at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation) and David Haussler (Director of the UCSC Center for Biomolecular Sciences and Engineering).  Peter Yu is a renowned medical oncologist and hematologist who has pioneered the advance of health information technology and its use to improve medical care.  The American Society of Clinical Oncology is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer, and has played a lead role in erasing the stigma around cancer through developing and sharing knowledge that promotes cancer prevention and treatment.  In March of this year ASCO announced CancerLinQ, a major effort to collect data on hundreds of thousands of cancer patients to further advance cancer research and treatments. David Haussler is a pioneer in the field of bioinformatics whose group assembled and posted the first working draft of the human genome on the Internet, and is now innovating computer algorithms that will enable the use genomic data in the transformation of cancer care. In June of this year, Haussler and his colleagues announced a “Global Alliance” to foster the sharing of genomic and clinical data that CancerLinQ and other similar efforts require.  Yu and Haussler will discuss the challenges and opportunities raised by efforts to harness big data approaches to biomedical research.

As both Yu and Haussler are keenly aware, aggregating patient tissues and data raises entangled ethical and technical concerns. Finding the proper balance between personal privacy, medical and scientific autonomy, and equitable public benefits is at the heart of multiple recent controversies, including the sequencing and subsequent publication of Henrietta Lacks’ genome and neonatal blood biobanking.  These episodes make clear that the ability of informatic technologies to broaden and deepen the analysis of personal data raises issues that go to the heart of democratic governance. As a society, we have long associated personal control over our own bodies and privacy with full citizenship. Yet we also highly value transparency and knowledge sharing and view both as critical aspects of an open society, and as necessary components of scientific progress.  Today, as aggregated biomedical data become both more useful and more risky, we confront a difficult conflict between the value of privacy and the value of openness.

In an age of widespread social media usage, it is an increasingly familiar task to balance these values in our daily lives. Yet Science & Justice Research Center Director Jenny Reardon recently experienced this tension between privacy and openness in a surprising new way when she had an appointment with a physician at UC San Francisco (UCSF) and was asked to sign a UCSF Terms of Service Form.  That form told her that she “understood” that UCSF could use her tissues and/or medical data in research and that she had no property rights in these tissues/data. Despite being an expert in biomedicine, ethics and society, she found that she did not know what she was being told she “understood” in order that she might receive the medical services of UCSF. Reardon reflected on this experience in an article entitled “Should patients understand that they are research subjects?” that appeared on March 2, 2013 as the cover story for the San Francisco ChronicleSunday Magazine Insight. This article circulated widely, and resulted in Yu contacting Reardon, establishing an ongoing conversation about the future of medical privacy, trust, and informatics.

At the heart of problem is a confusing mix of U.S. case law that denies ownership over one’s bodily tissues once they have left one’s body, medical privacy standards that require providers and researchers to inform you that they may use the tissues for research without directly requesting permission, and the speed at which medical advances are occurring. Given these conditions, it is more difficult than ever to know what one is agreeing to when one signs ubiquitous Terms of Service and informed consent forms.

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board published an editorial along with Reardon’s articlethat suggested that the US Department of Health and Human Services revise its standards for medical consent. The editors proposed that the HHS standards foster full disclosure and clear communication with patients that more fully addressed questions of who will own and benefit from the collection and distribution of tissues and data.  They also published a response from UCSF’s Elizabeth A. Boyd, associate vice chancellor for ethics and compliance, and Daniel Dohan, associate professor of health policy and social medicine. Boyd and Dohan argued that the success of personalized medicine rests on relationships of trust between physicians, researchers and patients. They noted that UCSF supports revising consent standards, and cite the recent creation of EngageUC, an initiative on the part of UC physicians and faculty to develop new comprehensive guidelines.

Within a few weeks of this discussion in the San Francisco ChronicleThe New York Timespublished an Op-Ed by Rebecca Skloot (author of bestselling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) that called for the development of international standards to protect the privacy of genetic data.  This call followed in the wake of the sequencing and publication of the HeLa cell line genome without the consent of the family of Henrietta Lacks, the African American woman whose cells were used to make the cell lines (again, without her consent). The New York Times followed with an article a few weeks later that discussed the concerns of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, about patient privacy and the lack of transparency on who has access to patient health data. More recently the NIH’s chief Francis Collins personally worked with Lacks’ family to develop a protocol for accessing the HeLa genome data that aimed to balance researchers’ needs with the family’s desire for privacy.

This discomfort bubbling up on the national stage has led to calls to change the Common Rule (the set of laws that govern federally-funded biomedical research in the U.S.), which currently allows for collection of tissues and data from patients as long as anonymity is maintained. It has become clear that anonymity in an age of openness is at best an uncertain policy instrument.  In addition to its technical limits, anonymity does not address the underlying concerns about who will be served by the mining of genomic and health data, and how concerns about privacy, property and justice can be addressed while fostering the creation of new knowledge needed to advance medical care.  Both Yu and Haussler are leading efforts that seek to do a better job fostering innovative research while attending to these fundamental ethical and policy issues, knowing that we need to do both if we are to advance cancer research and care.

This conversation between Peter Yu and David Haussler, facilitated by Jenny Reardon, was the first of several dialogues planned by the Science & Justice Research Center that aim to help clarify these issues at stake in the evolving relationship between openness and privacy in the biomedical sciences.

Wednesday January 22, 2014 |4:00-6:00PM | Engineering 2, Room  599

Human / Non-Human Collaboration Across the Arts & Sciences

Justice in a More than Human World - Collaboration or exploitation? Working with living systems across the arts and sciences


Wednesday February 26, 2014

4:00-6:00PM
Digital Arts and New Media (DARC) Room 108

As artists and scientists explore non-human relationships and discover new ways to illustrate and inspire each other’s work, issues of collaboration, ethics, empathy and justice collide as these borders are crossed and new hybrid relationships emerge. This event will feature presentations of artwork and scientific research that cross pollinate each other, with a focus on human / nonhuman collaboration in the worlds of eco art, bio art, genetic engineering, molecular and marine biology.

Hosts: Gene A. Felice II & Sophia Magnone
Visiting Artist: Amy Youngs (http://hypernatural.com/)
Presenters: UCSC Emeritus Faculty Helen and Newton Harrison

Co-Sponsored by: Digital Arts & New Media, Open Lab and UCIRA

Thursday February 27, 2014
12:00-2:00PM
Digital Arts and New Media (DARC) Room 204

The Digital Arts Research Center at UCSC will not only host the lecture / forum but will also host an undergraduate and graduate student workshop with Amy Youngs. This workshop will focus on bioart themes and will range from an artist presentation to group and one-on-one project / critique time between the artist and participants.

Host: Gene A. Felice II
Visiting Artist: Amy Youngs

Friday February 28, 2014
4:00-6:00PM
Engineering 2 Room 599
"Bioengineering and Meat Cultures"

Meat grown in a laboratory is being promoted as a response to the harmful effects of “conventional” factory-farmed meat production. Artists and scholars have identified how meat cultures are a new class of being, with their own unique characteristics. Some of these characteristics are precisely what makes lab-grown meat appealing as a food source, and some provoke what is frequently deemed “the yuck factor.” Viewing this new class of beings, along with other bioengineered critters, as custom-built collaborators, we explore the ways humans relate to and intervene in the more-than-human world to feed, clothe, house, and entertain themselves--and the way we respond when these interventions, collaborations, and cultures turn sour.

Hosts: Andy Murray and Sophia Magnone
Visiting Scholar and Artist: Oron Catts (http://www.symbiotica.uwa.edu.au/)

Oron Catts is an artist, researcher and curator whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project which he established in 1996 in collaboration with Ionat Zurr, is considered a leading biological art project.  He is the founding director of SymbioticA, (which he co-founded in 2000) an artistic research centre housed within the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia.

Under Catts’ leadership SymbioticA has gone on to win the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007) the WA Premier Science Award (2008) and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008. In 2009 Catts was recognized by Thames & Hudson’s “60 Innovators Shaping our Creative Future” book in the category “Beyond Design”, and by Icon Magazine (UK) as one of the top 20 Designers, “making the future and transforming the way we work”. His work has been widely exhibited internationally in venues such as NY MoMA, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and National Art Museum of China.

Catts was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School, a visiting Scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, a Visiting Professor of Design Interaction, Royal College of Arts, London, and a Visiting Professor at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki where he was commissioned to set up Biofilia - Base for Biological Art and Design. Catts’ ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; his work is often cited as inspiration to diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.

A UCSC campus news article on the event appears here.

Helen and Newton Harrison, Amy Youngs, "Human/Nonhuman Collaboration across the Arts and Sciences"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
26 February 2014
Rapporteur Report by Sophia Magnone
This event was framed as part of a series of events, “Justice in a More-Than-Human
World,” that aimed to explore various modes of humans working with nonhumans, and to
articulate the possibilities for collaboration, rather than exploitation, in these working
relationships. The series had four core questions:

1) When it comes to human-nonhuman partnerships, how could we distinguish between
collaboration and exploitation?
2) How does thinking of nonhumans as collaborators refigure ethics, empathy, and
justice in these relationships?
3) How is nonhuman life valued? What systems of value enable us to manipulate and
end nonhuman life?
4) How do we imagine nonhuman values?
For this particular event, a panel of eco- and bio-artists discussed examples of their work that
stage interaction between humans and nonhumans, as well as between the disciplines of art and
science.

Helen and Newton Harrison, Emeritus Faculty in the UCSC Art Department, presented
work from across their careers in which the artists enter into collaboration with living systems in
various ways: for instance, with crab populations in Sri Lankan lagoons (“The Lagoon Cycle”),
and with the ecosystem of the Tibetan Plateau (“Tibet is the High Ground”). They emphasized
the interdisciplinary nature of their eco-art work, which necessarily involves methods, techniques,
and theoretical frameworks of experimental science as well as of art. In their presentation, the
Harrisons modeled the collaborative nature of their own (working and personal) partnership,
which is based on ongoing negotiation and productive interruption.

Amy Youngs, Associate Professor of Art at Ohio State University, presented several
projects that involve messy, playful collaborations between humans, animals, plants, and
machines. She emphasized that “collaborations are not equal”: although her work is concerned
with taking animals’ worlds and interests seriously and making them visible for human viewers,
she does not pretend to create egalitarian situations for the animals in her work. She discussed
the institutional limits that are placed upon the artistic use of animals: an art project that involves
animal death is not considered institutionally acceptable. Her Farm Fountain, an indoor
ecosystem that grows edible and ornamental fish and plants through symbiosis, is thus conceived
as a private, do-it-yourself project (she provides instructions on her website); she discussed the
difficulty but the necessity of killing the fish, and also pleasure of cooking and eating the fish.
She also spoke of the particular interest that people take in her work involving live animals in
gallery spaces—for example, crickets (“The Museum for Insects”) and a rabbit (“River
Construct”). These exhibitions prompt viewers to focus on animals they might normally
overlook, and to be concerned about them as living beings.

In the Q&A session, multiple audience members responded with personal stories about
their own relationship to animals and to the practice of killing and eating animals. Jenny Reardon
asked, how do we bring the context of animal killing, and its ethical implications, into the
artwork itself? There was a sustained dialogue between audience members and speakers about
different narratives of (personal and industrial) animal killing: one can view animal killing as a
pragmatic necessity, a spiritual task, a way of accepting responsibility for the death one causes,
an unavoidable evil that should remain invisible, an avoidable evil that one can choose to reduce,
etc.

We also heard from several audience members about the particular relationships of care
and love they have entered into with animals, particularly rabbits. Jenny Reardon asked Amy
about her shift from rabbit breeding (which involves “culling”) as a child to her interspecies
artwork; for Amy, the link is that she loves to be around animals and wants to figure out how to
do that well and to engage public conversation on interspecies being. The Harrisons discussed
the ways that crabs manifested “personality” and “civil society” in their “Lagoon Cycle” project.

In response to Amy Youngs’ story of the institutional limits placed on her artwork,
Donna Haraway noted the bigger implications of the institutional distinction between science and
art, which have different status as knowledge-making practices. In the current system, science
has the authority to kill, while art does not—a gendered division of “serious” versus “unserious”
kinds of work. Collaboration with nonhumans might involve making die as well as making live,
as a challenge to the social authority of science and war as the only players allowed to make
decisions about animal life and death. Newton Harrison suggested that in his own art practice, he
has found that these institutional obstacles of social authority can indeed be overcome. Donna
Haraway also noted the differences in scale in the art practices being presented: the Harrisons
tend to work on a large, continental scale, while Amy Youngs tends to work on an intimate,
miniature scale; the two models present us with micro and macro worlds of the imagination.

Investigative Justice

SJRC Visiting Scholar Sally Lehrman (Knight Ridder/Mercury News Professor in Journalism and the Public Interest, Santa Clara University), speaks about what constitutes responsible practices of investigation in journalism, and what might we learn from and with journalism about the challenges of constituting responsible practices of investigation in science?

Sally Lehrman, an award winning journalist and our first Science and Justice Professor, will speak to us about how questions of responsibility in investigative journalism relate to questions of responsibility in science. We look forward to thinking with Sally about how to create more responsible science reporting, particularly in the area of race, gender and genomics. We will ask what these efforts in journalism might reveal about efforts to create more responsible natural and social sciences. While many people think of journalists as distorting responsible science, Sally's work will challenge us to think in a more nuanced way about the relationship between science and journalism, and about how public knowledge about science is produced.

Sally Lehrman, "Investigative Justice"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
13 November 2013
Rapporteur Report by Lizzy Hare
Sally Lehrman, an award winning journalist and the first Science and Justice Professor, spoke to the working group about responsibility in investigative journalism and how it relates to questions of responsibility in science. Lehrman is especially interested in matters of justice and diversity in journalism and science, and wants to work with Science and Justice to think about how science, and journalism can intersect towards the idea of justice.

Lehrman began her presentation with a video of a white supremacist whose DNA ancestry is revealed to him on a British talk show. The test results show that he is 14% sub-Saharan African, and he rebukes, claiming that this is simply statistical noise. Lehrman wanted to show this video because it raises questions about what genomics does, and by extension, what science can do. She then asked us to think about the following questions: Can science solve social problems? Can journalism assist? Should it? How well is it doing? Could it be done better?

Lehrman then gave a brief overview of the ambitions of journalism and some of its historical problems. In some ways, these ambitions and problems are shared with the field of science. Journalists see their duty as informing the public and providing the public with information so that the public may address the issue. The information provided to the public should be truthful, fair, and comprehensive. These ambitions are not always easy to obtain. Journalism as a field is disproportionately white and male, and both journalistic sources and the subjects of coverage reflect racial and gender bias as well. The underrepresentation of groups in the newsroom and as sources and subjects can lead to stereotyping.

According to Lehrman, journalism’s goal is to seek truth and report it. The trouble with science reporting is that because many journalists see scientists as holding the truth, and because scientists typically agree, journalists think that they can take a shortcut when reporting on science. This leads to science being presented as if it holds the solution to social woes without further discussion or debates about how society should use that information. Lehrman suggests that science writers need to be attentive to their own social conditioning and the structures within their field that shape the way they conduct their investigations. Just like with other types of reporting, science journalists need to remember to question the newsworthiness, usefulness, credibility, and framing of scientific stories. Practically speaking, her proposed intervention can be summed up as “question the questions and question the interpretations.”

The final slide in the presentation was an image that she hoped we could discuss. It is from an exhibit on genomics, and she is hoping that our expertise and interest in matters of science and justice could provide useful thoughts on the image. The image shows a female mannequin-like figure with genetic code imprinted on her. She’s dark brown, and lacks facial features and hair. The question next to her reads: “Can genes tell us who we are?” We discussed this image in small groups and then convened to share our thoughts. The working group thought that the image was supposed to seem futuristic, which prompted additional comments about why future people are so often portrayed as hairless
and of indeterminate ancestry and culture (depicted here with light brown skin tone and without hair or clothing to provide clues). Others were troubled by the use of a female body. Was this a conscious attempt not to reproduce the gender bias in medical research? Or does it perpetuate the female body as an object for the scientific male gaze? Or was it because the female form is considered more approachable in our culture?

After the discussion of the image, audience members shared their responses to and questions for the presentation. One person commented that perhaps there should be more burden of responsibility on the informant to help get the story right. Lehrman’s response to this was that typically the journalist has a better understanding of the general audience than the scientist does. That said, she takes serious issue with journalists who write directly from press releases, which are intentionally sensational and might gloss over important points in the research. Working from press releases also adds in the trouble of time, because the turn around time between press release and publication is so short that investigations become truncated and dots aren’t connected. Heidi asked about the problem of “balance as bias” which is especially problematic in reports on climate change, which often grossly over represent the position of skeptics. Lehrman suggests that scientists can be helpful to journalists by pointing out where the debates actually lie within the field. These debates are likely to be much less sensational, but will more accurately reflect the status of mainstream science.

Interview with Science & Justice appears in the Danish Daily Information

Last June (2013), members of the Science & Justice Research Center were interviewed by former UCSC EAP (Education Abroad Program) student Bue Thastum.  While the original interview appeared in the Danish Daily Information, below is the translated article.

 

Should research create a better world?

Science can have other forms of social relevance than just economic. At the University of California Santa Cruz a young research center is trying to create interdisciplinary dialogues on how to practice science and engineering in ways that contribute to a more just world.

The debate regarding the role of research in society has often stood between two different positions. On the one hand voices that speak of the importance of maintaining independent basic research, on the other hand, those who want research that’s more directly connected to society. In the Danish debate the latter, however, has typically been in a rather narrow economic sense – emblematic summarized in former Minister of Science Helge Sander’s (V) slogan of the movement from research to invoice. A political ambition that, as it was recently demonstrated in a report from the think tank DEA, didn’t actually turn out as hoped anyway.

But the way science relates to society can also be on other broader levels than merely economy. An example is the young research center Science and Justice at the University of California Santa Cruz who, based on the fact that science and engineering plays a huge role in shaping our lives and society, are working to create cross-disciplinary conversations about how it can be done in a way that contributes to the creation of a better, more just world.

The group, which has existed since 2006 but only formally became a research center last year, is particularly unique in the way it manages to bring together students and researchers across the gap between the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities in its seminars and educational programs.

More than fraud

The center is housed in two humbly furnished rooms on the campus of the university. In one of those, assistant director Jake Metcalf bids welcome and explains that one of the intellectual approaches of the center is a discussion of what research ethics means.

“The understanding of what it means to practice science ethically has been too shallow,” Jake Metcalf says.

He has a PhD in philosophy himself and has amongst other things done research on applied ethics in the life sciences. He believes that part of the problem is the way science students are being educated.

“Most of the science ethics teaching is based on a model named Responsible Conduct of Research,” Metcalf explains.

Academic integrity, avoidance of plagiarism and informed consent from research subjects are typical topics. All this is of course essential, he admits:

“But one of the premises for Science and Justice is that this is not enough. It does not tell you much about the social good that can be achieved by doing science in one way or the other. So we try to create a space to think about what ethics may be beyond the Responsible Conduct of Research.”

One of the ways that space more specifically takes shape is in form of the events the group is organizing, in which they try to get speakers from different disciplines to come together around a common issue, and hopefully bring perspectives that can mutually enrich one another.

Anxiety of politics

Shortly before the summer holidays, for example, there is an event on airborne pesticide drifts and social justice. It’s Tuesday afternoon in one of the new glass-clad buildings in the scientific part of the campus. On the wall hangs a poster with the human genome, and in two rows around a U-formation of tables an audience counting anthropologists as well molecular biologists is seated.

One speaker is an environmental sociologist and has studied bureaucratic and political processes surrounding the regulation of pesticides in the United States, another is a representative of an NGO that teaches poor residents from rural areas to document pesticide drifts from nearby farms, and a third is the biologist Tyrone Hayes, who discovered how the pesticide Atrazine creates hormonal disorders in frogs and subsequently, under great media attention, has thrown himself into a prolonged and spectacular public campaign against the company that manufactures the pesticide.

A central theme in both the presentations and the subsequent discussion is the role scientific evidence plays in facilitating political change.

The NGO representative explains how being able to use scientifically robust methods has helped lay people to push for political change. Conversely, the two other speakers describe a widespread culture amongst scientist of not being interested in engaging in political processes. As the company behind Atrazine tried to discredit Hayes, he found about 60 other scientists in the world, all of which dealt with the effects of Atrazine, but when the US Environmental Protection Agency held a hearing on the pesticide, no one showed up.

Apart from the seminars, Science and Justice’s main activity right now is the training program for graduate students.

The program is being offered across all the divisions of the university and is thus concretely putting future physicists, sociologists, engineers and political scientists in the same room. The background for this is that justice, as Science and Justice understands it, is not something you can define once and for all, and hence not necessarily something that can be kept within the boundaries of a single discipline either.

Kate Richerson is a PhD student in Biology and one of the students who has completed the program. She says that it especially has given her a sense of the complexity of the social life scientific studies gets after having been completed. Many scientists have good intentions, but they lack that understanding if they really want to create a better world.

“There is a tendency that it just gets taken for granted that science can help,” says Kate Richerson, “but the work you’re doing often gets to have its own life, when you put it out into the world.”

A life that’s exactly influenced by economy, social relations or culture, and thus one that other disciplines could help provide a more nuanced image of.

Interdisciplinary diplomats

The hope of the program is that the students by gaining an understanding of each other’s language, and by building up a sense of comfort in talking together across disciplinary boundaries, eventually will be better to see possibilities for collaboration.

But it’s not the ambition of Science and Justice to get the students to put their professional identities behind them, says Andrew Mathews, who until the summer was the director of the center.

“It is about building the ability to become diplomats across disciplinary differences,” Andrew Mathews says.

“I actually think ‘interdisciplinary’ is a meaningless word. Everyone says they are, but what does it mean? Instead, it is about providing opportunity for people from different disciplines to have conversations about things that matter to them. That’s our goal. And from there, maybe new research questions can emerge. ”

 

Thastum, Bue. “Should Research Create a Better World.” Danish Daily Information. Sept. 2013. n. pag. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.