Jan 29, 2016 | Communicating Science to the Public: How does the experience of long-term nuclear waste disposal prepare us to think about climate engineering?

A conversation between Jane Long (California Council on Science and Technology's California's Energy Future committee) and Joseph Masco (University of Chicago, Anthropology).

Climate change is forcing us to think about how we might produce safe energy, and how we might mitigate the impacts of energy use upon the earth system. As these earth system changes are becoming increasingly apparent, in what is coming to be called the Anthropocene era, scientists and engineers are increasingly being drawn into policy processes.  From problems of disposing of long-term nuclear waste, to contemporary geoengineering projects that might remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or reduce incoming solar radiation, scientists and engineers have become hybrid political/technical actors.  Jane Long, an eminent science/policy figure will describe her work on characterizing and communicating the risks of long term nuclear waste disposal and on her more recent work on climate mitigation and geoengineering, and will reflect on her experiences as an engineer who came to work at the interface of science and policy. Joe Masco, an anthropologist at the University of Chicago will describe the influence of histories of atomic energy on American culture and science policy and will interview Jane Long about her career.

Jane Long has had an eminent career working at the interface of engineering science and policy. She has been currently chair of the California Council on Science and Technology's California's Energy Future committee, and recently retired from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where she was Associate Director at Large for Energy and Environment and Fellow in the LLNL Center for Global Strategic Research.  Earlier in her career, she served on the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Board on Radioactive Waste Management and chaired the National Academy of Sciences Committee for Fracture Characterization and Fluid Flow Systems. Jane Long has a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Mineral Engineering from the University of California Berkeley, and is the author of numerous books and articles, including the book Rock Fractures and Fluid Flow; Contemporary Understanding and Applications.

Joseph Masco is Professor of Anthropology and of the Social Sciences in the College writes and teaches courses on science and technology, U.S. national security culture, political ecology, mass media, and critical theory. He is the author of The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico (Princeton University Press, 2006), which won the 2008 Rachel Carson Prize from the Society for the Social Studies of Science and the 2006 Robert K. Merton Prize from the Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology of the American Sociology Association. His work as been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Wenner-Gren Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His current work examines the evolution of the national security state in the United States, with a particular focus on the interplay between affect, technology, and threat perception within a national public sphere.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology.

Engineering 2 Room 599 1:00 - 3:00PM

"Communicating Science to the Public: How does the experience of long-term nuclear waste
disposal prepare us to think about climate engineering?"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
29 January 2016
Rapporteur Report by Lizzy Hare
At this Science and Justice Working Group event, Jane Long (contributing scientist for
the Environmental Defense Fund, Visiting Researcher at UC Berkeley, Cochair of the Task
Force on Geoengineering for the Bipartisan Policy Center and chairman of the California
Council on Science and Technology's California's Energy Future committee) and Joe Masco
(Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago) discussed possibilities for climate
engineering and public perceptions surrounding these ideas. Science and Justice Research
Center Associate Director Andrew Mathews welcomed the audience and introduced the
participants, explaining that both Long and Masco have conducted extensive research in nuclear
politics and share a capacity to communicate to different kinds of audiences.

Long began the discussion by introducing her own work and background. She described
her dynamic career as “a quest to work on every controversial issue in Earth Sciences”. Long’s
involvement in nuclear waste began when she was working at the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory (LLNL) and was assigned to design a hydrologic modeling system that could help
determine the location for waste storage for the Hanford project. She recalled her frustrations
about the political nature of the project, and compared it against a similar project in Sweden. In
the U.S., the first step in the process of determining where nuclear waste would be stored was a
senate bill. That bill stipulated that the waste would have to be stored in one of five possible
locations. It was determined in Washington that the waste would be sent to the state of Nevada,
which lacks political power due to its small population base. Long and others at LLNL were
then tasked with finding an appropriate location within Nevada. In Sweden, the decision about
where to place nuclear waste began by first tasking scientists with determining the criteria for a
best possible location, and then determining which areas in Sweden most closely matched those
criteria. For Long, the Swedish case represented a safer and more scientifically rigorous
decision-making process.

During her career at LLNL, Long also had the opportunity to work on climate change and
climate engineering projects. This included a report written for the Department of Energy that
looked at the feasibility of climate engineering and included recommendations from
nonscientists. Working on this project was “the hardest thing [she’d] ever done in [her] life”,
because of the difficulty of communicating across disciplinary and ideological lines. The
process of writing the report caused Long to become increasingly concerned with vested
interests. People are often aware of the possibility of economic vested interests, but less so the
scientific and institutional interests that are involved when entire careers and institutions are
dependent on researching one project, something she sees as a legacy of the Cold War emphasis
on big projects like nuclear weapons development.

Masco then explained his interest in nuclear waste and climate engineering. He argues
that the Manhattan project changed the way the U.S. relates to the future by presenting two
options: either the future ends abruptly in nuclear war or technoscientific projects could solve
problems systematically until a form of utopia is achieved. These two competing visions for the
future existed side by side for generations in a sort of schizophrenic state. During this time, the
Civil Defense project instructed people in unifying around fear and collective imaginaries about
nuclear technologies. The Civil Defense model stumbled and failed after the disaster at Three
Mile Island, rendering it ineffective against new existential concerns such as climate change.
There is no longer an optimistic sense that technology will lead us towards utopia, but yet there
are certain problems, such as the question of how to store nuclear waste that require
technological solutions.

One of the unifying threads between nuclear waste disposal and climate engineering is
that both issues require the contemplation of deep futures, a timescale that Masco suggests is too
long for engineering and too short for geology. Long said that the challenge of contemplating
deep futures is that they require a different way of framing the issue, a different ideology.
According to Long, an ideological approach is necessary because people don’t think analytically,
but ideologically. The issue of ideology became central to the conversation, and was returned to
later in a discussion about planetary boundaries.

The Stockholm resilience institute proposed a concept of planetary boundaries that could
be regulated and monitored by global governments. This proposal was brought up by Masco,
who thinks that reframing future concerns as planetary boundaries is an extraordinary shift in
thinking that takes us away from assuming a framework of unlimited growth. Such a framework
had come to be the norm during the “petrochemical era” that relied on inexpensive fossil fuels to
drive technological developments and economic growth. Long is less enthusiastic about the
idea, citing concerns that people in ecology, and especially the Breakthrough Institute, reject this
framework. They are still committed to the idea that technology will overcome, and that is in
part, she believes, because it provides possibilities for facing the challenges of the future. Long
says that she agrees with this position, in part because she believes that climate change
mitigation alone is insufficient to prevent widespread disaster, so climate engineering could be
an important tool.

In concluding the conversation, Long reiterated her position that climate engineering is
another crucial tool that can help prevent climate change disasters in the future. Masco said that
he is inclined to agree, but cautions that engineering cannot be thought of as a “fix” to the
problem. It needs to be thought of as one potential tool in a broader set of changes that include
widespread ideological change of the sort ushered in by the Civil Defense project of the midtwentieth
century. Rather than teaching nuclear fear, however, such a project would instill belief
in and respect for planetary boundaries as fixed conditions that technology cannot outrun.

Jan 18, 2016 | TEACH! ORGANIZE! RESIST!

The SJRC will be following along and participating in the many January 18th campus happenings at: http://teachorganizeresist.net/ActionList with keeping a keen eye on the first discussion:

Climate Change: Scientists Speak Out

10:30AM–11:30AM

Graduate Student Commons (above Cafe Iveta @ Quarry)

Panelist includes Prof. John Pearse, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department; Prof. Lindsey Dillon, Sociology Department; and Prof. Gary Griggs, Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Other sessions include: Islamophobia: Racializing Religious Identities, Participatory Budgeting and Democratizing the UC, What to do at a Protest?, Economic Inequality is About All of Us, Building Power: the role of students, immigrants, and workers in reclaiming democracy, “Know Your Rights: Everyone’s Basic Rights” with CARECEN SF, Queer Margins: LGBTQ Resistance in the Trump Era.

S&J Professors Karen Barad and Donna Haraway will present a co-initiated UCSC Values Statement at the closing event T.O.R.C.H. Townhall Closing Event (Teach. Organize. Resist. Change. Hope) from 4-6pm.

Please take the time to read, sign, and share the UCSC Values Statement!

About #J18 and Beyond

January 18, 2017, is a day to Teach, Organize, Resist. Poised between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the presidential inauguration, J18 is an opportunity to affirm the role of critical thinking and academic knowledge in challenging Trumpism. On that day, we intend to teach about the agendas and policies of the new administration, be it the proposed dismantling of economic and environmental regulations or the threatened rollback of the hard-won rights that form the fragile scaffolding of American democracy. On that day, we intend to organize against the proposed expansion of state violence targeting people of color, undocumented people, queer communities, women, Muslims, and many others. On that day, we intend to resist the institutionalization of ideologies of separation and subordination, including white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, and virulent nationalism.

#J18 is a call issued by departments, centers, and collectives at UCLA, including The Institute on Inequality and Democracy, RAVE or Resistance Against Violence through Education, African-American Studies, Chicana/o StudiesInstitute of American CulturesJustice Work Group, LGBTQ StudiesUCLA Labor Center, and The Undercommons.

Let it be known that on #J18 and beyond, universities, colleges, and high schools refused to bear silent witness to the politics of hate and fear; that in these times, these places of teaching and learning not only served as a sanctuary for its students and workers but also stood up to proclaim the power of knowledge on the frontlines of social justice.

Share your #J18 activity here:#J18 Event Registration

Twitter: @J18UCSC and @SciJust using #TorUCSC #J18 #J18UCSC #UCSCvalues

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/J18UCSC/

Information and Press Inquires: TeachOrganizeResist@gmail.com

UCSC information: j18ucsc@gmail.com

 

 

Dec 12, 2015 | 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, 2015 | 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, 2015 | 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, 2015 | 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, 2015 | 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, 2015 | 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, 2015 | 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, 2015 | 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