Dec 12 | Science & Justice Training Program Certificate Reception

4:00-5:30 PM | SJRC Common Room, Oakes 231

Please join us in congratulating the graduate fellows on their achievements in completing the Science & Justice Training Program. This certificate provides recognition to current graduate students who have developed collaborative research methods for exploring the meeting of questions of science and knowledge with questions of ethics and justice. For more pedagogical information on the nationally and internationally recognized Science & Justice Training Program, please read Experiments in Collaboration: Interdisciplinary Graduate Education in Science and Justice originally published in PLOS Biology.

Graduate students interested in the Science & Justice Training Program, please visit: Science & Justice Training Program.

Faculty interested in supporting the Science & Justice Training Program or for more information on our Broader Impacts Initiative, please read: Broader Impacts.

Nov 18 | The Genomic Open: Then and Now

The story of the Bermuda Principles and their codification of genome scientists’ commitment to save the human genome from private enclosure is the dominant story of the Human Genome Project. Twenty years after the first historic Bermuda meeting, this seminar will gather together at UC Santa Cruz key players in the creation of an ‘open’ approach to genomics with historians of genomics and allied fields to critically reprise this iconic story. UC Santa Cruz played an important role in ensuring that genomic data remained in the public domain. Today it continues this commitment, but the times have changed. First, genomics is no longer primarily funded by public funds, and a line between public and private efforts can no longer easily be drawn. Second, human genomics is marked by a desire to gain data from private persons who have privacy rights that do not easily articulate to an ethos of open access. Third, genomics is a global science that requires working across nations that have diverse approaches to questions of privacy and private/public ‘partnerships.’ Finally, the number of people producing genomic data and the amount of data itself has grown exponentially, creating new challenges for creating data sharing rules and norms. Participants in this workshop will return to the forging of the Bermuda Principles in 1996 both to generate new insights about the emergence of the genomic open in the 1990s, and to understand what a richer understanding of this history might offer to contemporary efforts to enact public genomics.

Admission is free, however seating is limited, please register here.

This event is sponsored in part by: The UCSC QB3 Genomics Institute

10:30-5:00pm | BioMed 200

 

Rachel Ankeny, Professor of History, The University of Adelaide, Australia

Jenny Bangham, Research Scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Scott Edmunds, Executive Editor of GigaScience

David Haussler, Scientific Director of the Genomics Institute, UCSC

Stephen Hilgartner, Professor of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University

Kathryn Maxson, PhD candidate, History of Science, Princeton University

Jenny Reardon, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Science and Justice Research Center, UCSC

Beth Shapiro, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC

Hallam Stevens, Assistant Professor of History, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Michael Troncoso, Chief Campus Counsel, UCSC

Robert Waterston, Professor and Chair, Genome Sciences, University of Washington

 

Agenda

Welcome and Introductions

10:30 – 10:45AM   Jenny Reardon (Sociology, Science & Justice Research Center, UCSC)

 

Historical perspectives

10:45 – 11:10AM   Bob Waterston (Genome Sciences, University of Washington)

11:10 – 11:40AM   Rachel Ankeny (History, The University of Adelaide, Australia)

Kathryn Maxson (History of Science, Princeton)

11:40 – 11:55PM   Jenny Bangham (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)

11:55 – 12:10PM   Steve Hilgartner (Science & Technology Studies, Cornell)

12:10 – 12:45PM   Discussion

 

Genomic Open meets the Biomedical Enclosure

1:45 – 2:00PM   David Haussler (Genomics Institute, UCSC)

2:00 – 2:15PM   Jenny Reardon (Sociology, Science & Justice Research Center, UCSC)

2:15 – 2:20PM   Michael Troncoso (Chief Campus Counsel, UCSC)

2:20 – 3:00PM   Discussion

 

Where are we now?  Emerging Problems and Innovations

3:30 – 3:45PM   Scott Edmunds (Executive Editor of GigaScience)

3:45 – 4:00PM   Beth Shapiro (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC)

4:00 – 4:15PM   Hallam Stevens (History, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

4:15 – 5:00PM   Discussion

Nov 04 | Big Data: The Promises and Problematics of Prediction

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By virtue of big data, we are being offered a dizzying array of predictive possibilities unimaginable a generation ago. If a crime has occurred in such and such a place, it is probable that others will be committed in the same area (predictive policing). If a student presents with a given profile, it is likely that she will run into trouble within a year at university (educational data analytics). If an infant displays a particular genetic disposition, it is likely that he will become antisocial. In a world where correlation is cast as causation, a core political and philosophical task is to understand what it means to put our faith in the prophets of big data. In this talk, from the Council for Big Data, Ethics and Society, Geoffrey Bowker and Jacob Metcalf will explore with us the landscape of prediction in big data.

Geoffrey Bowker, Professor of Informatics, University of California, Irvine

Jacob Metcalf, Researcher, Data & Society Research Institute

November 4, 2015 | 4:00-6:00 PM | Physical Sciences Building 305

Oct 07 | It’s About Time: How Perceptions of Time Influence Environmental Action

How do conceptions of time inform our perceptions of anthropogenic climate change and influence the political and societal will to respond? How can an appreciation for the timescales of civic policy help scientists to frame their findings for effective social change? How can we render scientific data actionable while retaining the depth of temporal knowledge? This presentation and panel discussion will provide an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the effects of human behavior on different timescales. By bringing together these different perspectives, we aim to theorize how perceptions of time can help communities, such as UCSC, implement both long- and short-range environmental goals and allow for more active engagement with environmental issues.

Elida Erickson, Sustainability Programs Manager and Interim Director, UCSC Office of Sustainability

Zoey Kroll, Internet Communications Coordinator, San Francisco Department of the Environment

Adina Paytan, Research Professor, Institute of Marine Sciences, UCSC

Organized by Science & Justice Training Program Fellows Carolyn Branecky (Earth and Planetary Sciences) and Samuael Topiary (Film + Digital Media)

Read Rap Report > It's About Time

October 7, 2015 | Physical Sciences Building, Room 305 |   4:00-6:00 PM 

It’s About Time: How Perceptions of Time Influence Environmental Action
SJWG Rapporteur Report
7 October 2015
Rapporteur Report by Carolyn Branecky & Samuael Topiary
The Panel Discussion
At this Science & Justice Training Program event, Zoey Kroll, Adina Payton, and Elida Erickson
discussed how different perceptions of time influence the ways they communicate anthropogenic climate
change to broader publics and the implications of this communication for political action. Carolyn and
Topiary moderated a discussion with the three panelists, followed by a question and answer discussion
with the audience. By focusing on the timescales that define each of the panelists’ efforts, we explored
some of the possibilities as well as the limitations on both communication and action which face the
environmental movement today.

The panel began with a presentation by Zoey Kroll, who provocatively suggested that ten seconds
was the timeframe she is most guided by in her work as the Internet Communications Coordinator at the
San Francisco Department of the Environment (SFDE). In suggesting that she has about ten seconds to
capture the attention of the average visitor to the SFDE website, Kroll stated that her work was defined by
her ability to communicate quickly and simply. Thus, she sees quickness as essential to working on the
long-term goals of municipal transformation. The SFDE provides easy to understand guidelines for
recycling and composting to help SF city dwellers and businesses to implement new city ordinances, such
as the plastic bag ban.

Dr. Adina Paytan, UCSC Earth and Planetary Sciences Research Professor, focused on the
techniques she uses to communicate the impact of human activities on the ocean environment. She
explained how her research spans a wide range of temporal scales, observing natural processes that occur
in one season to environmental change that evolves over millions of years with spatial scales that range
from the molecular to the global. Although her work explores these multitudes, she explained how she
relies upon human lifespans to communicate the gravity and relevancy of her data. Using the benchmarks
of generations within her own family, she plots the changes in ocean acidification levels, noting the wide
change between the years when she was born and when her daughter was born. Using these personal
markers in her research data graphs, Paytan suggests that in talking about long-term issues, she finds it
essential to put her data into the perspective of a human generation, stating that a 100-year lifespan is
about as much as people can really understand in terms of rates of change.

Elida Erickson, Sustainability Programs Manager and Interim Director at UCSC’s Office of
Sustainability, focused on institutional timescales at the university, stating that the Office of Sustainability was established seven years ago by students, focusing on the problems of food waste. She discussed the ways that timescales for environmental action can differ among the groups that she works with. On the one hand, college students want to see change happen within their 4-year term at the university and have been successful in some cases at catalyzing that change within their time here. Yet, from the administrative side, sometimes institutional policies, such as building permits in the case of one student project, can defer or prevent the implementation of creative solutions. In drawing a distinction between student timeframes and administrative timeframes, Erickson raised the issue of how working with committees has its own kind of timeframe and challenges, and suggested that working with administrators was the least fun part of her job. She also noted that the ambition and perspective of students wanting to achieve environmental goals on a student timeframe can help to push the administration to move faster than they might otherwise to implement environmental policy changes.

Conversation Following the Presentations
Both UCSC and the City of San Francisco have Zero Waste programs, whose shared goal is to
eliminate (in some sense of the word) waste by a given date. Kroll, representing the City of San
Francisco, and Erickson, representing UCSC’s Office of Sustainability compared the implementation of
these Zero Waste programs in a compelling way. Both of these speakers discussed the role which politics
plays in their work as well as the need to navigate institutional positions when strategizing on
communicating environmental action. Kroll suggested that she tends to think and work from a citizen
point of view, rather than from a City government's administrative perspective. Erickson suggested there
was a difficulty with fast change, suggesting that UC-wide initiatives, such as Zero Waste, which are
mandated from the top down, often leave people in the middle having to adjust.For example, UCSC is
“crawling” on a campus-wide composting due to the undesirability of a bin next to offices. She suggested
that while the voice of students can push the administration to be more responsive, it can also be pushed
aside more readily. Kroll suggested that in San Francisco, the idea of Zero Waste 2020 produces
excitement and creates a sense of a goal for people to work toward. She notes that to date, San Francisco
has achieved an 80% diversion rate and that 10% of the outlying waste has to be addressed with producer
responsibility laws.

The panel discussed the difference between achievable goals and “impossible” or aspirational
goals, such as Zero Waste, and mused about the ways in which achievable goals helps to foster personal
action, while “impossible” goals can be useful to galvanize a larger community movement. This line of
thinking was interrogated by Anthropology PhD candidate Kristin Lawson, who questioned the role of
time in relationship to differences between institutional and individual action. Kroll responded that
institutions and municipalities can affect change at the procurement level and spoke about the high
purchasing standards held by the City of San Francisco, which publishes a directory for approved sources,
which in turn, provides a pathway for industry to move in this direction. Kroll also discussed the way that
her personal experience of working on a collective urban farming project with a 2-5 year timeframe
demonstrated how working toward specific goals can head off a sense of numbness and disempowerment
that comes from doom and gloom climate change predictions. She added that, in San Francisco, one
hears is a lot of talk about “disruption” as a solution and she wonders if the feeling of urgency (about
climate change) must be combined with the experiences that help one feel one’s actions are making a
difference. Kroll focuses on how to make her work be as accessible and inclusive as possible.

Paytan picked up on the issue of “doom and gloom,” stating that she feels scientists need to be
more solution-oriented when communicating the negative consequences of their research, such as rapid
climate change, species extinction, and environmental destruction. Dr. Karen Barad (UCSC Feminist
Studies) pushed Paytan on the ways in which scientists communicate their work using standard notions of
time, questioning “the seduction of clock time” and its tie to capitalism. Barad wondered about the
temporality of urgency and its relationship to doom, questioning whether there might be a way to discuss
urgent time, which is not tied to doom, but rather allows the past and the future to carry more meaning.
Paytan countered that, although we receive distressing data about climate change, our planet has been
around for four billion years and has been through other huge changes, stating that she personally finds
comfort in knowing that we humans are not going to be here forever. Barad countered that she is not
comforted by how this kind of philosophical nihilism is often taken up politically, especially considering
the unevenness of how the planet is being damaged and by whom. She noted that scientists often have
lively alternative conceptions of time and can think about temporality more richly when our hands are not
tied to “clock time.” Barad continued by suggesting that although something like sea-level rise happens
at a certain rate within a fixed frame, the consequences of that rise are experienced very differently by the
people living in rich countries than in poor ones and wondered whether these effects should be put in
words of time or social equality.

Towards the end of the panel discussion, PhD student Ella Ben-Hagai raised the question of
whether zero waste goals were paradoxical to the push for economic development and expansion in both
San Francisco and at UCSC. She also provocatively wondered whether the zero waste programs were
causing these two enclaves to become islands of “sustainability” and created zones of privilege or
whether there was some notion of zero waste mandates as being more “trickle down” kinds of strategies
for other places.

The panel discussion concluded with a question about the politics behind scientific research and
an acknowledgment of the importance of having interdisciplinary conversations between scientists, social
scientists and humanists and which include voices and experiences from both inside and outside of the
academy, in helping to further discussions about environmental action and in order to build new alliances
to build a progressive agenda.

Post-panel Discussion Reflections
Following this panel discussion, we received written comments from our panelists reflecting on moments
that stuck out to them. The following quotes come from this written feedback:

Kroll:
“It was interesting to hear candid words from Elida about what it's like to work within a
university context, ... how terms are defined or redefined as campaigns evolve (Can Zero Waste
really mean 95% waste diversion?). The role of the Science and Justice Program in bringing
together a dynamic audience and panel cannot be understated.

Paytan:
“Having social scientists, humanists and physical scientists on the panel contributed to a
fascinating exchange of ideas. As a scientist and particularly a geologist I tend to define time as a
precise measurement related to the rates of rotation of planetary bodies (the Earth and the Moon)
and it was very interesting and educating for me to hear how others regard time in a much more
subjective manner and that time could be by personal and even societal experiences. I also
learned a lot about the challenges people have when they have to communicate timelines to a
broad community and accomplish set goals, both the campus sustainability goals and the City of
SF environmental Stewardship (0-50-100 roots) goals are impressive!”

May 20 | Kim TallBear – Cultivating Indigenous Scientists

Kim TallBear (University of Texas, Austin) discusses how genomics forms along with notions of race and indigeneity (the topic of her 2013 monograph, Native American DNA) and the novel roles that Native geneticists are playing in intervening in these processes to create a more just and democratic approach to genomics.

Co-Sponsored by the UCSC Genomics Institute and the Center for Biomolecular Sciences and Engineering.

To view the video documentation of this event, click this link.  Or — listen to the event below:

May 06 | Good Science/People’s Science: An Exploration of Science and Justice

C-Thompson-2As part of the Science and Justice Research Center’s efforts to develop analytics for understanding and enacting ‘science and justice,’ we hosted a half-day long symposium that features the work of Charis Thompson (Chancellor’s Professor and Chair of Gender & Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley) and Ruha Benjamin (Assistant Professor in the Center for African American Studies, Princeton University).  In their respective works (Good Science: The Ethical Choreography of Stem Cell Science, University of California Press; People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier, Stanford University Press), Thompson and Benjamin provided us with an excellent starting point for our collective efforts to conceptualize and enact ‘science and justice.’

This event included a morning reading group and an afternoon presentation by the two speakers, followed by discussion with a response from Julie Harris-Wai (Assistant Professor, UC San Francisco and Associate Director of CT2G).

Part 1: Introductions by Jenny Reardon & Tala Khanmalek
Part 2: Charis Thompson
Part 3: Ruha Benjamin
Part 4: Julie Harris-Wai, respondant
Part 5: Q/A session
 
Audio of Full Event:

Speakers:
Ruha Benjamin (Assistant Professor, Center for African American Studies and Faculty Associate in the History of Science Program, Princeton)
Charis Thompson (Chancellor’s Professor and Chair of Gender & Women’s Studies, UC Berkeley; Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics)
Respondent: Julie Harris-Wai (Assistant Professor, UC San Francisco; Associate Director, Center for Transdisciplinary ELSI Research in Translational Genomics | CT2G)P1000020

This event was co-sponsored by UCSC Departments of Politics, History of Consciousness, Feminist Studies, WiSE, and Sociology.

The event is also sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender, Politics of Biology and Race Working Group, and Gender and Women’s Studies Department as well as UCSF’s Center for Transdisciplinary ELSI Research in Translational Genomics (CT2G).

Organized in part by Visiting Scholar Tala Khanmalek.

 

Apr 22 | Fixing the Pathological Body

The medical industry leans heavily upon a distinction between the "normal" and the "pathological." How and why do we continue to define this distinction, and for whom are these categories useful?  What are some alternative ways to organize the lived experiences of human bodies and/or minds?

A Panel Discussion with Janette Dinishak (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UCSC) Kelly Ormond (Professor of Genetics and Genetic Counselor at Stanford University) Matthew Wolf-Meyer (Associate Professor of Anthropology at UCSC and author of The Sleeping Masses).Organized by Science & Justice Training Program Fellows Sandra Harvey (Politics), Linda Dayem (Philosophy) and Jessica Neasbitt (History of Consciousness). Co-Sponsored by UCSC Departments of History of Consciousness, Literature, and Philosophy, as well as the Institute for Humanities Research.

Janette Dinishak is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research interests include philosophy and history of psychology and psychiatry (especially autism), Wittgenstein, philosophy of mind, disability, and ethical theory.

Kelly Ormond is a Professor of Genetics at the Stanford School of Medicine. While Ormond's primary role is to direct the MS in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling program, her research focuses on the intersection between genetics and ethics, particularly around the translation of new genetic technologies (such as genome sequencing or non-invasive prenatal diagnosis) into clinical practice. She is especially interested in patient decision making, informed consent, and the interface between genetics and disability.

Matthew Wolf-Meyer is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, specializing in medical anthropology, the social study of science and technology, and neuroscience. He is author of The Slumbering Masses: Sleep, Medicine and Modern American Life (UMN Press, 2012), which focuses on sleep in American culture and its historical and contemporary relations to capitalism. His second book, What Matters: The Politics of American Brains, focuses on the ethical and epistemological practices in contemporary neuroscience, cybernetics, disability activism, and psychoanalysis in American society. Currently he is in the early stage of a new project focused on the neurological turn to the gut as an extension of the nervous system, the history of shit in the United States, and the therapeutic uses of human excrement in modern medicine.

April 22, 2015

"Fixing the Pathological Body"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
22 April 2015
Rapporteur Report by Jess Neasbitt
This event was organized to begin what we hoped would be ongoing discussions that addressed
themes and questions like the following: "The medical industry leans heavily upon a distinction
between the "normal" and the "pathological." How and why do we continue to define this
distinction, and for whom are these categories useful? What are some alternative ways to
organize the lived experiences of human bodies and/or minds?" We invited Drs. Dinishak and
Wolf-Meyer and Professor Ormond to introduce their research and engage in a panel discussion
regarding these questions, as well as those asked by the audience.

After a brief introduction of the panelists and the overall event theme by Jessica Neasbitt, Dr.
Dinishak spoke about her interest in issues surrounding “deficit attribution.” She forwarded this
model as a specific form of pathologizing difference, and encouraged the audience to consider
what (or whose) standard is being used to assess the lack, or absence of a feature that a person
“should have,” that is a hallmark of “deficit attribution.” Dr. Dinishak is interested in calling the
moral complacency surrounding this decision into question, as well as bringing the narratives of
the pathologized into the conversation. This led to a brief overview of her research regarding the
narratives of autists, which involves qualitative interviews, and speaks to her stated commitment
to finding responsible approaches to engage in such research in ways that acknowledge subjects
as “not just objects to study.” Instead, Dr. Dinishak encouraged the audience to consider what the
narratives of autists can teach us about the lived experience of those labeled autistic, the cultural
representation of these individuals, and what their (autists) concerns might be.

Following Dr. Dinishak, Professor Ormond discussed how disability is talked about in genetic
counseling. Building off of Dr. Dinishak’s talk, she mentioned the challenge of mixing lived
experiences of people with disabilities with discussions of risk assessment during counseling
sessions. She is interested in starting conversations that focus more on the former than on the
medical aspects of potential conditions a fetus may develop in order to move past parental fear
and into a space of more expansive possibility. Professor Ormond stated that, at the present time,
potential parents most commonly focus on the medical aspects of potential disorders/disabilities
over the lived experiences of those diagnosed with them, and this often leads them to constrain
their choices to either abortion or bringing the baby to term and keeping it (versus adoption and
other possible options).

Dr. Wolf-Meyer also discussed social fixes in contrast to medicalization, and gave examples
from his para-ethnographic work. Most of his examples involved the tendency to medicate rather
than seek social fixes, which often require the rethinking—and perhaps radical changing—of
powerful institutions. The influence of capitalism was a recurrent theme, not only during Dr.
Wolf-Meyer’s presentation, but throughout the panel discussion and the question and answer
period; however, the “normalization” required of subjects in capitalist societies was integral to
several key aspects of Dr. Wolf-Meyer’s talk. Among these were: the increase of medical and
pharmaceutical interventions to make individual bodies “fit” into existing social systems and the
dramatic decrease of any social “safety net” (public assistance for persons with disabilities).
The individual, and the individualization of responsibility, were recurrent themes throughout the
event—especially in relation to the influence of capitalism on the practice of medicine in the
United States. Many attendees questioned panelists on whether or not their proposed
interventions into these practices and/or institutions were realistic, given the tenacious hold of
capitalism and its current rigid practices. While there were some small-scale examples of
successful interventions given (communal living, alternative clinics that evaluate social fixes as
well as medical ones), this was the extent of the discussion, and—given more time—this would
be a fascinating avenue to continue exploring.

Another topic in which the concept of the individual loomed large was the genome. There were
several audience comments and questions regarding the power of the genome and the ease with
which risk scores that describe possible futures transition into labels that dictate identities. This
tied in with the parental fear that Professor Ormond had discussed earlier, and the question was
asked: Is fear a necessary part of medical care? Professor Ormond reiterated that this was one of
the limitations of genetic counseling, that there is no “gene for” (it is not as clear cut as that), and
that this is one of the reasons why she believes that discussions with genetic counselors might be
better framed in terms of “abnormal-normal, risk-chance.”

Most of the remainder of audience questions and comments can be divided into two categories:
those focused on the role of the history of eugenics and race in regard to processes of
pathologization, and those focused on the terminology used by the panelists. The history of
eugenics was mentioned by one panelist—Professor Ormond credited it as contributing to how
genetic counseling happens today. However, there were several excellent questions that brought
up the possibility that genetic counseling may be contributing to current eugenicist practices,
especially in relation to abortion of fetuses that are at increased risk for particular pathologized
conditions. While there was some further discussion of the relation of race, eugenics, and
pathologization, we were again limited by the format and time constraints of the event; however,
we all agree that this is an area of rich possibility for further events to explore.

Audience questions regarding the terminology used by the panelists were extensive, and also
limited by available time. Overall, these questions focused on the terms used to describe those
persons being pathologized, and why these specific words were chosen. Questions about the use
of the following terms were recorded: difference vs. deficiency, disorderly vs. disabled, disorder
vs. condition, atypical vs. abnormal, variance vs. diversity, and risk vs. chance vs. diagnosis. The
length and breadth of this list suggest yet another subject that could feasibly support its own
panel discussion; at the very least, it should be addressed in any future events planned as an
outgrowth of our event.

Our initial vision for this event was to begin a conversation regarding what work pathologization
does, and for whom. Overall, we agree that this panel was a good start to what we envisioned as
an ongoing dialogue, and we—along with our critical listeners, Jeff Sherman and Jen Trinh—
have many ideas as to aspects of our theme that future events might explore. These include
narratives and counter-narratives of pathologization, the role of institutions in pathologization
(and how this might be addressed), late capitalism and pathologization (especially regarding the
concept of “productive” bodies and the commercialization of pathology), disability activism, and
the history of pathologization—particularly in regards to race and eugenics. All of these topics
came up in one form or another during our event, and we all agree that the format of the event
severely limited our ability to allow the in-depth examination of any one of these rich lines of
questioning. However, these are topics that we think merit exploration and would make for
future events that would both continue the discussion that began during our event and interest a
wide variety of individuals and groups on campus and in the surrounding community.

As to the possible forms the continuation of this discussion might take, there are several that we
would like to forward. First (and most ambitious), we would like to suggest that, given the easy
division of our overall theme into the sub-topics mentioned above, a conference (or other multipanel
event) on this theme would be both one way to continue this discussion and have many of
the people who should be represented “at the table.” Regardless of the format of the event, we all
agree that future speakers must include disability rights activists, community members, and
narratives of pathologization that originate from the pathologized themselves. Suggestions for
future speakers included Mia Mingus and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha; we also
acknowledge that more outreach and collaboration with the disability studies community on
campus should have been part of our process, and would highly benefit any future events that
stem from our event.

Other suggestions for keeping the discussion going dovetail nicely with the stated desire of the
Science and Justice Research Center for achieving more of an online presence. These include a
series of blogs (some of which would be guest authored), a series of podcasts and/or an interview
series, and a moderated online forum on the topic. The growing number of scholars working on
related themes on this campus, the presence of a healthy activist community (both on campus
and in the community), and the upcoming History of Consciousness concentration of
“Differences Now” all point to there being a good deal of interest in—and potential for joint
sponsorship of—a variety of events that could further the discussion that began during “Fixing
the Pathological Body” in new and innovative ways, and we look forward to seeing where this
discussion goes next.

In closing, Jessica, Linda and Sandra would like to thank our generous co-sponsors, without
which this event would not have been possible: the departments of History of Consciousness,
Literature, and Philosophy, the Institute for Humanities Research, and the Science and Justice
Research Center. We would also like to thank our critical listeners (Jeff Sherman and Jen Trinh)
for their time and extremely helpful feedback. To our panelists, Dr. Janette Dinishak, Professor
Kelly Ormond, and Dr. Matthew Wolf-Meyer, we wish to extend our sincere gratitude for your
participation and inspiring discussion, which we envision as the beginning of a much needed
exploration of the work, histories, and purposes of pathologization.

Attendance
There were approximately 26 attendees, the majority of whom hailed from the social sciences.
The remainder of the attendees were from the sciences and the community.

Apr 01 | Working Against Female Genital Mutilation in Khartoum, Sudan

Female Genital Mutilation is prevalent across many parts of Africa, with a wide variety of approaches advocated to help prevent this practice.  Dr. Atif Fazari, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Medical Sciences & Technology, Khartoum- Sudan, will discuss his work as a reconstructive surgeon and opponent of FGM.  He will talk about various strategies for reducing this practice, and discuss these with Dr. Carolyn Martin-Shaw, emerita Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, who has published and taught about African women, social theory, and sexuality.

 

Hosted by Professor of Anthropology, Nancy Chen.

Organized by Associate Professor of Anthropology: Andrew Mathews

Respondent: Anthropology Professor Emeritus Carolyn Martin Shaw

Coordinated by: Dr. Jordann Loehr, MD, MPH

Engineering 2, 399 | 4:00-6:00pm | April 1, 2015

March 05 | The H+ Film Festival: Cyborg Fictions and Futures

 

Organized by Science & Justice Training Program Fellows Jeff Sherman (Politics) and Jen Trinh (Physics), together with the Crown Social Fiction Conference, the Science & Justice Research Center presents:

Thursday, March 5th: 8:00 pm Ghost in the Shell | UCSC Merrill Cultural Center

Friday, March 6th:
Midnight screening of Robocop (1987) | Del Mar Theatre, Santa Cruz, Reception and Introduction by Ed Neumeier

Saturday, March 7th:
10:00 am: Registration & breakfast
10:30 am: Transcendent Man | Crown/Merrill Dining Hall
12 Noon: H+ Panel Discussion
1:00 pm: Lunch & Student Poster Session

What kind of future are we moving towards with advances in robotics, prosthetics, artificial intelligence, and body augmentation? The idea of transhumanism (H+) suggests that the future is bright, with extended human lifetimes coupled with higher quality of life. However, in popular science fiction, the future is often not so bright. Will humans eventually transcend their bodies and become higher beings, or will technology reduce humans into mere machines? What is the outlook for "humanity," how does our popular culture shape our visions of that future, and what ethical questions should we consider today rather than in a transhuman tomorrow?

This film festival (part of the Crown Social Fiction Conference) seeks to create an opportunity for conversations with screenings of the science fiction classics RoboCop (1987) and Ghost in the Shell (1995), as well as the documentary Transcendent Man (2009). Following Transcendent Man, we will have a guided discussion, featuring panelists Ed Neumeier (cowriter of the original RoboCop and UCSC alumnus), Dr. Vivienne Ming (theoretical neuroscientist, entrepreneur, and visiting scholar at UC Berkeley), and UCSC's Dr. Chris Gray (lecturer at Crown College and author of the book Cyborg Citizen). They will explore these questions and examine the relationship between the fictions that awe us and the realities that face us.

Ed Neumeier is a screenwriter, producer, and director, who studied Journalism at UCSC before going on to complete his bachelor’s at UCLA at the School of Motion Picture & Television. Ed is best known for his work on the Robocop and Starship Troopers franchises.

Dr. Vivienne Ming is a theoretical neuroscientist, entrepreneur, and visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. Her research focuses on developing models for the neurobiological processes involved in cognition, perception, learning, and motor function.

Dr. Chris Gray is a lecturer at UCSC’s Crown College, as well as the author of Cyborg Citizen and Peace, War and Computers, two books that explore the political implications of our increasing dependence on electronics. Dr. Gray’s research interests include postmodern politics, information theory, the implications (political, artistic, and ethical) of cyborgs, and more.

 

The H+ Film Festival: An Exploration of Cyborg Futures and Fictions
SJWG Rapporteur Report
5-7 March 2015
Rapporteur Report by Jeff Sherman and Jen Trinh
In conjunction with the Crown College Social Fiction Conference, this film festival hoped to
explore the near futures that face us with the growing technologies of robotics, prosthetics,
artificial intelligence, and body augmentation through the lens of popular science fiction. This
was done through the exploration of the popular motif of the Cyborg cop in science fiction. On
Thursday March 5th we screened the Japanese Anime classic Ghost in the Shell. On Friday
March 6th we screened the original RoboCop at the Del Mar Theatre in downtown Santa Cruz
with a short introduction by Ed Neumeier, one of the cowriters of the film. On Saturday March
7th we screened the documentary Transcendent Man concerning the technologist and futurist Ray
Kurzweil. Our panelists, Ed Neumeier, Dr. Vivienne Ming and Dr. Chris Gray initially took up
the efficacy of Ray Kurzweil’s ideas as they were presented in the documentary that preceded
our discussion. This generated quite the number of critiques of the exceedingly optimistic view
that we will realize immortality within our lifetimes through these technologies. It also spurred
conversations about the ethics that will invariably complicate the development and
implementation of such technologies.

In responding to the ideas of Kurzweil, Dr. Ming suggested that the techno-utopianism of his
visions was somewhat misplaced, given that not all of these technologies are readily viable along
the timeline he suggests and if they were that their implementation would not necessarily be
automatically benign. All three panelists noted that Kurzweil’s quest was deeply informed by an
obsession with defeating death (his own and his father’s) to the point of possible neurosis. While
Ed and Vivienne agreed that they do not wish to die, and that their fears of death may play some
role in their hopes for the future of technology, they expressed doubt that such technologies will
be developed so quickly. Chris, on the other hand, noted later in the conversation that he
celebrates death as the “vaccine against hubris” and accepts his fate.

Following discussion of the documentary, the panelists conversed about the ethics that will
invariably complicate the development and implementation of such technologies, despite hopes
for a techno-utopia. Ed shared thoughts on how the film industry creates what the viewer wants
to see and hear about (the miracles of future technologies), rather than the issues surrounding
these technologies, such as the monopoly of the companies that control these new tools, the
possibility of misuse by individuals (rather than the machines being inherently at fault), and the
actual feasibility of these advancements. Chris expressed skepticism about how humanity could
possibly create a techno-utopia, given the dire state of affairs within our government, where
corporations are afforded the same rights as people, and intelligence (of the IQ sort) is advanced
while emotional intelligence is neglected.

We concur with our critical listeners, Linda Dayem and Jessica Neasbitt, that as the conversation
continued through the hour, the dynamic that developed among our panelist was one of a
tempered technological optimism on the part of Dr. Ming and Mr. Neumeier with the opposite
view of technological pessimism reflected by our third panelist, Dr. Gray. We could somewhat
anticipate this chemistry from our initial discussions with our guest speakers. However, this split
was more pronounced at the public panel and this may be attributed to the particular audience
addressed for the Social Fiction Conference (undergraduate audience poised as the next
generation of technological innovators) and the provocations suggested by our documentary on
Mr. Kurzweil. Where our panelists’ views generally coincided were on: 1) the limitations of AI
in the near to midterm 2) the greater probability of body and neurological augmentation in the
near future 3) the false distinction between “science fiction” and what is touted as “science fact”
given the creativity and imagination evident in today’s leading industries.

With our project, we hoped to explore the possible futures that face us given the predicted
trajectories of robotics, prosthetics, artificial intelligence, and body augmentation through the
lens of popular science fiction. We also hoped to reach as wide an audience as possible among
graduates, undergraduates and the UCSC community. In screening three different films (two
science fiction and one documentary) and convening a panel of experts to comment on this
subject, we believe we were successful in at least starting the conversation on these subjects.

Most importantly, Jen and Jeff would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to the Crown College
staff (Jennifer Day, Derek DeMarco, Camila Dixon, Cathy Murphy, Shane Sanchez and
especially Provost Manel Camps). We also say thank you to our support at the Science & Justice
Research Center (Colleen Massengale and Acting Director Andrew Mathews) and our critical
listeners (Linda Dayem and Jessica Neasbitt). Above all we wish to thank once again our panelist
Chris Gray, Vivienne Ming and Ed Neumeier for their time participation and enthusiasm.
Without the support of all of these partners, the H+ Film Festival would have simply been
impossible. Thank you all.

Attendance
Overall we had the following attendance at our three events as part of the H+ Film Festival
14 people at the screening of Ghost in the Shell
30+ people at the midnight screening of RoboCop
40+ people at the screening of Transcendent Man and panel discussion

March 04 | Science Journalism: Education, Entertainment or Instigation?

How much can you educate someone about DNA tests or climate change in three and a half minutes?  Is "education" even the goal? NPR science journalist Joe Palca discusses what he hopes to accomplish in his science segments for public radio, as well as the reporting and production effort behind them. Palca was joined in a conversation with Science and Justice Professor and fellow journalist Sally Lehrman about the role of science news in society, including the interplay of scientists and audience in its expression.

Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca comes to journalism from a science background, having received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz where he worked on human sleep physiology.

Sally Lehrman is the first Visiting Professor in the Science & Justice Training Program. She is an award-winning reporter and writer specializing in medicine and science policy with an emphasis on genetics, race and sexuality. Lehrman has written for some of the most respected names in national print and broadcast media including Scientific American, Nature, Health, Salon.com, and The DNA Files, distributed by NPR. As a senior fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, she also directs the Executive Roundtable on Digital Journalism Ethics initiative. The roundtable brings together journalism executives and entrepreneurs to discuss the responsibilities of the news media to accuracy, inclusion, transparency and accountability in the digital public square.

Science Journalism: Education, Entertainment or Instigation?
SJWG Rapporteur Report
4 March 2015
Rapporteur Report by Samuael Topiary
Joe Palca began his presentation by talking about his career trajectory in science reporting
which began with science reporting for TV in the NBC news Washington DC bureau where
he became a health & science producer. At that time, in the mid 1980s, his job was focused
on presenting science to the public in ways that would allow for an understanding the issues
in public policy debates. Palca told us that he couldn't stand the TV news approach where
every story had to have a medical Dr. and a patient and there was no time to find out if Dr.
knew what they were talking about. He was responsible for putting a story on the air every
night and this quick pace didn’t allow for other opinions about the story. Frustrated by the
limits of TV news science reporting, Palca moved to writing for Nature, the complete
opposite scenario, where the editor wouldn’t settle for anything short of a well-researched
story. In his move from one end of journalistic spectrum to the other, he learned that experts
aren't always as expert as they claim to be.

Moving from Nature to Science, Palca moved into medical-science writing and was the first
person to report on the Human Genome project. While at Science, he was supposed to be
tracking the money and policy-making activities, and not so much on the actual science,
which he considers to have been a dark period in science journalism. In 1992, he was
offered a one year job at NPR, which also necessitated a pay cut. Twenty-three years later,
he is still working at NPR, reporting on medicine, public policy, astronomy. He considers
NPR somewhere between local TV news and the type of reporting he did for Science and
Nature. The NPR audience is presumed to be a general interest audience, and his job is to
try and get them engaged and interested in science stories. At NPR, science reporting
integrated into general interest news, and will generally report stories that are similar to what
is being reported in the NY Times.

In explaining how science news stories are reported on, Palca explained the practice of story
“embargos” where the major science journals will publicize their table of contents in
advance to science reporters, in order to give them a jump on what stories will be published
in the upcoming article, allowing them to do their own research and due diligence on the
story. The embargo prevents reporters from publishing on the story until the date the article
in the journal is published. However, in this way, the news can publish simultaneous
articles about the breaking discoveries being published in the important science journals.
Palca explains that the “embargo” is what makes science writers look so clever, since all
journals have PR departments and send out embargo copy of next issue's table of contents,
and gives science journalists the chance to understand the topic and report on it, as well as to
predict what the big science stories will be.

Lehrman asked Palca about how his thinking about science reporting has changed over the
years. Palca responded that it has not really changed that much. He suggested that science
reporters can do a ton of education but no editor is going to ask for education; they are
interested in news and that you have to make reporting sound like news. He then added that,
in his opinion, science doesn't have a lot of answers. He was contemptuous about the idea
of relying on technological fixes to solve problems, such as geo-engineering to solve our
climate problems. He suggested that science reporting can answer the question of why tax
money should continue to be used to fund science inquiry: because it makes our culture
more interesting and gives us the ability to ask big questions. He suggested that if the
public understood science better, they might not be so interested in 'news stories' which
attempts to paint a picture of science “solving” something rather than a more true account of
scientific inquiry as being about inquiry and process. Lehrman asked how he approaches
attempting to disabuse the public of the notion that science knows everything in a 3.5 minute
piece? Palca responded by suggesting that, if taken as a whole, his body of work is
attempting to give people a notion of what science is all about.

As an illustration of this approach, Lehrman played Palca’s NPR story "Why Ants Handle
Traffic Better Than You Do" from January 19, 2015. 

Palca explained that the scientist who was studying the ant
behavior was probably wrong in his conclusion that ants don't jam up, suggesting that other
scientists he consulted thought the physics was wrong. Because there were so many
questions in his mind about the scientist’s conclusions, Palca believed that his findings were
not relevant as a news story, however, he felt that the story gave an idea that traffic
engineers can look at behavior in another discipline and he thought the story was cute and he
got jazzed about doing the traffic report (which begins this entertaining radio piece). Palca
stressed the importance of making the stories entertaining and finding ways to make the
ideas come alive with humor. He feels it is important to explain but not explain it too much,
adding that the web version of the story includes a hyperlink to more information.

Lehrman explained that in her own stories she writes critically about genetics and asks Palca
why he went with the ant story when he knew there might be problems with the underlying
science. Palca answered that he’s not making it out to be too important. With this story and
his series of stories, he’s aiming at less important science so as to not mislead anyone. He’s
showing the process of doing science, rather than the conclusion or outcome. In this way,
he’s attempting to point out what is interesting, and not worrying about what is “important.”
Explaining that he has to be respectful of people's time, as the forum for his stories is
Morning Edition, he tries to keep his pieces short and entertaining.

The second radio piece they played was a profile about a genetics researcher at UC Berkeley
who is forecasted to win the Nobel Prize.

Palca explained that in longer form journalism, you would storyboard before
you go out and do the reporting, which is how TV documentarians do it. He never does that;
he just wants to talk to them about what they're doing and why; explaining that most of the
time, he has no idea of the structure of the story. He listens through his recording for tape,
which he finds moving or compelling. Lehrman asked how he knows how complicated to
get into the details of the science. Palca explained that he has to decide what people need to
know to follow the story without making it so complicated that it would be hard to follow.
He added that he’s not trying to prove the story is worth covering; he wants his audience to
take it on faith that it's interesting.

Palca explained that his focus is on exploring the minds and motivations of inventors.
Lehrman countered that she wonders if he let the scientist in his story off the hook by not
questioning her about whether editing the genome is the most effective approach, and
whether it is the best way to allocate resources? Palca responded that we would have to
throw out 9/10ths of medical research if we thought solely about economics. Rather, he
wants to tackle stories of inventions before they get to the point of implementation. Here
he’s looking at the mind and process of inquiry. Palca added that is critical of some health
reporting because he thinks the health care system is a mess. In the past, he wrote articles
for Science about the limitations of cancer research, but that was for a scientific audience.
In terms of the Human Genome Project, “this whole business about genomes and
personalized medicine, give me a break! There are so few cases when it's helpful.” He also
added that it would be a conflict of interest to report on many of these stories now, since his
wife is the deputy director of the NIH. Lehrman asked if this means that don’t hear stories
on NPR about the NIH? Palca responded that he tries to get his colleagues to do them,
assuring her that NPR has more than one science reporter.

Andrew Mathews asked about ways that Palca is about to bring the domains of politics and
science together. Palca answered that he doesn’t think the scientific community has done a
good job at analyzing it's process. He added that he is skeptical that peer review leads to the
best research being funded. Raising the question of how does a journalist know which
stories are good or important leads to follow? Lehrman suggested that she thinks Palca is
underselling his news sense -- some journalists just follows the PRs, whereas Palca is
discerning what is the most important work and how can he highlight that. Palca counters
that he can be wrong, just as everyone is wrong and that no one knows what the important
story will be and that he doesn’t think journalists or scientists know until you have
retrospect. He added that both Science and Nature are more wrong than any other journals
because they are riskier. He states that this is the process of questioning - I'm done saying
you should listen to this because it's the most important thing happening - I don't know what
is the most important thing

Donna Haraway (Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness, UCSC)
stated that she thought his Crisper story perpetuated a whole series of metaphors about
biology and genetics, simplifying the science and thereby reinforcing some of the most
destructive myths about genes by allowing the listener to believe that being able to edit
single gene diseases is going to be a fundamental breakthrough, rather than understanding
the reality of multi-gene interactions. She suggested that the story reinforces a public view
of science, which is destructive. Palca responded that “I give in more often than I like to.”
Haraway asked “what little tweaks could you have done that could have avoided that
problem?” Palca responded that he didn’t think they could build in that nuance. Haraway
suggested there was room to play with the metaphors and Palca stated that his difficulty was
getting across what how the scientist’s work would be useful and to get an audience with
limited attention and understanding to engage. He also added that he understands how he
perpetuates myths. Lehrman asked if he thought there was a feeling in science journalism
that the only thing people care about is cures to diseases. Palca said that his editor is the one
who talked with about what to include. He also suggested that the head of NIH goes to
Congress to say we're going to cure disease, not that the science which is being funded is
“good for learning.” Palca stated that he steers away from stories that seem to have cures
embedded in them, but still, it is received wisdom that the reason we're doing the work if for
medical cures and not knowledge in general.