March 05, 2015 | 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, 2015 | 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.

Feb 20, 2015 | Plant Intelligence or Plant Signaling?

In recent years, plant scientists have been increasingly interested in complex forms of plant behavior, including in the ways in which plants communicate with each other by long distance electrical signals and by vesicle mediated transduction of auxins and other chemicals. For some scientists, the capacity of plants to anticipate, remember, and learn, is best captured by the concept of plant intelligence, in the emerging field of ‘plant neurobiology’, which focuses on plants’ capacities to share important information. For some researchers, the very term ‘neurobiology’ is a potentially distracting anthropomorphism which diverts attention from the actual capacities of plants which they see as utterly different from human conceptions of intelligence. Anthropologist Natasha Myers has studied practices of anthropomorphism in the natural sciences, and described how anthropomorphism can enable research questions as well as limiting them. In this event, Elizabeth van Volkenburgh will present her research on plant growth and adaptation to stress and then engage in a conversation with Natasha Myers around what is gained or lost by seeing plant communication as a form of intelligence.

Hosted by Andrew Mathews

Read Rap Report > Plant Intelligence or Plant Signaling?

Listen to event >
part 1: 

part 2:

 

Natasha Myers, Associate Professor of Anthropology at York University, Canada, is Director of the Institute for Science and Technology Studies. As an anthropologist of science and technology, her research examines a range of visual and performance cultures alive in the contemporary arts and biosciences. Her forthcoming book Rendering Life Molecular: Modelers, Models, and Excitable Matter (Duke University Press, 2015) is an ethnography of an interdisciplinary group of scientists who make living substance come to matter at the molecular scale. It explores how protein modelers’ multidimensional data forms are shifting the cusp of visibility, the contours of the biological imagination, and the nature of living substance. With support from SSHRC and an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Government, she convened the Plant Studies Collaboratory to serve as a node for interdisciplinary research on plants in the ecologies and economies contoured by technoscience. In new work, she is investigating how the phenomena of plant sensing and communication are galvanizing inquiry in both the arts and the sciences.

E. Van Volkenburgh majored in Botany at Duke University (B.S. 1973), and worked for two years as a technician, at the Smithsonian Botany Department and at the Duke University Phytotron. She obtained a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the University of Washington (Ph.D. 1980) and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois, Urbana (1980-81), University of Lancaster, UK (NATO Fellow 1981-82), and the University of Washington (1982-1985). Following two years as Research Assistant Professor, she was hired as an Assistant Professor in Botany at the University of Washington (1987) where she remains as Professor of Biology, and Adjunct Professor of Environmental and Forest Science. Her research is focused on the physiological mechanisms regulating cell and leaf expansion in plants. This work includes photobiology, electrophysiology, and connections to ecophysiology and agriculture. She is also exploring the new field of plant behavior, and leads the Society for Plant Signaling and Behavior.

Co-Sponsors: Departments of Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Literature, and Sociology.

"Plant Intelligence or Plant Signaling?"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
20 February 2015
Rapporteur Report by Samuael Topiary
In this provocative presentation, a packed house audience was treated to a fascinating
exploration of the ways in which one biologist is exploring the idea of plant intelligence.
Prof. van Volkenburgh presented her long time research into the ways in which corn and pea
crops deal with stress. In this work, van Volkenburgh studies the differences between wild
and cultivated plants in their responses to light exposure and water conditions in order to
understand the genetic aspects of drought tolerance. Comparing growth rates under different
light conditions, she was able to understand that plant photoreceptors that absorb blue & red
light are not chlorophyll but rather that the plant’s cells manage their growth based on light
and water conditions. She further explained that for certain strains of poplar and corn
hybrids, growth rate predicts yield and that certain types of commercially bred corn seed can
be shown to have less advantageous yields under drought conditions since light signaling
pathways influence growth rate. She thus concludes that high yield corn hybrids, which had
been selected for density and shade avoidance have inadvertently limited the (wild) corn’s
natural drought tolerance. She also demonstrated the ways in which corn, although
genetically perennial, has been bred as an annual and thus modern maize hybrids are not as
sensitive to light.

Van Volkenburgh concluded with a quote from Ambrose Bierce (1909) who suggested that
plants belong to the philosopher's class. She suggested that if we can increase our awareness
of what plants do, we might be able to breed plants that can deal with food scarcity in
Africa.

Natasha Myers, explained that she had originally trained as plant molecular biologist before
becoming an anthropologist. She explained that in her work, she studies stories about
energetic process and plant stress and suggested that there is a whole literature connected
with plant signaling and behavior, which addresses how plants respond to wounding,
environmental change. In looking to plants coping mechanism, Myers suggest that we can
learn how to cope with environmental changes. She also suggested that this is an
opportunity to imagine that plants are experimenting with ways of living and that whether or
not we accept that plants think, as we understand this term, we can see that plants also cope
with and transform in relationship to their environments.

Myers asked the audience to consider what we learn about curiosity from the ways that
plants explore the world? She pointed out the issue in the language we use to talk about
plants: whether to speak about plant behavior in a passive or an active voice, and how the
language we use points to the problems of telling stories which situate plants as agents with
intentionality.

How do we talk about plants' interestedness? Wary of the temptation to anthropomorphize
and raising the issue of its taboo in plant neurobiology, Myers challenged us to play with
and against this concept. She asked us to consider what is possible and to think about the
role of the passive voice in sciences, questioning whether conceptions of intentionality are
allowed into stories of biology. Van Volkenburgh responded to this provocation by asking
what anthropomorphizing means; whether it involves imbuing an object with human traits or
“my own human traits”? Highlighting the professional risks of being taken seriously as a
biologist, van Volkenburgh stated that she felt anthropomorphizing limited possibilities by
risking adding bias or limiting what could be imagined as possible within biology.

Myers followed up this idea by exploring the use of analogies as ways of opening up our
understandings of biology. She suggested that stories about interspecies co-evolution, such
as the intermingling of the wasp and orchid physiologies, offers new possibilities for
understanding. And yet, she points out that the literature seems to police pleasure. She
suggests that the scientific proscription against agency mirrors certain concepts in the social
science and humanities, such as theories by Foucault, which suggest that we have no
freedoms, and that this conceptualization is echoed in conceptions of biology, such as we are
just what our genes want. Myers asks: “does anything that is not human have intention?”
She suggests that if we push a little further and “plantify” our imaginations, perhaps
understandings of plant phenomenon can change our conceptions about ourselves.

Myers and van Volkenburgh discussed reasons to “plantify” concepts of communication and
cognition as offering possibilities to test assumptions currently in place in animal behavior
models. Van Volkenburgh cited Philosophy of Plant Cognition by Paco Calvo as a book
which draws attention to ways people look at plants and explores the concept of plants as
reactive as compared with humans as proactive. She suggested, rather, that we think of this
as a spectrum and matter of degree and preference; undermining the notion that humans
have some special or unique role in evolution and encouraging us to see all biological
organisms as connected. She suggested that there are two ways of looking at cognition: a
bottom up way of learning which accumulates the info that constructs knowledge; and a
difference way, where consciousness knows something in general and then takes info and
compares it with what comes as surprising or inconsistent with that vision and where the
element of surprise drives learning. In this second philosophy of cognition, plant cognition
is a better way to look for that kind of approach to knowledge and learning.

When asked about her feeling about the book The Secret Life of Plants, van Volkenburgh
revealed that it was the book that made her apply to grad school. However, she said that
funding at the NSF dried up and careers were sidelined and that she wasn't only one who
received pushback from older plant physiologists against this way of thinking. She said,
however, that what arborists, farmers and vegetable gardeners know what they know and
that she has had an arborist bend her ear about this kind of knowledge, but that generally,
scientists are not open to it.

Myers talked about research on electrophysiology done in the late 19th century in India,
looking at the behavior and misbehavior of metals and plant irritability, and how that line of
inquiry was denigrated by colonial science and racism. This line of research got swept up
into the interest in what psychotropic plants can do to humans. However, she suggests, now
is the moment for the re-legitimization of plant neuro-physionomy.

Donna Haraway (Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness, UCSC)
stated that this panel brings up questions of metaphor and language, such as those used in
primate behavior studies where competition was quantifiable and friendship was ‘woo woo’.
She suggested that the “machinomorphic” language, which is seen as non-anthropomorphic,
really does the opposite. Haraway questioned the use of the word “neuro-physionomy,”
suggesting that changing the “neuro,” (which she suggested is “over-owned,”) might be too
up hill, but wondered if there were other words which could get at "the stuff plants are up
to" which are less colonized. Van Volkenburgh responded that the choice of the name was a
product of organizational compromises. Haraway followed up by asking her what are the
words she would use if she had control over the scene? Van Volkenburgh spoke about
another possibility which had been floated but it was felt the name had to be something that
is commonly recognized to mean 'what plants are up to.' Myers interjected that plants are
so much cooler than humans and why denigrate plants with these human terms? Why put
plants on level of consciousness when they're going to lose; they'll always be lesser us. She
asked why not foreground those things that plants can do that we can't and attempt to and
foreground these capacities, like photosynthesis, which would bring out another sensibility
of plant capacity and thus implicitly suggest how unskilled we are?

Beth Stephens, Professor of Art, identified herself as an ecosexual, tree hugger and talked
about doing workshop in which the participants hug trees and playfully asked about whether
the tree can consent? She suggested that watching a cellist hug her cello, or seeing books, or
the wood molding in the room, demonstrated the generosity of plants. She said that plants
are giving us oxygen and food, and what are flowers if not the ultimate in play—the
genitalia of plants? Stephens said that if we took anthropomorphizing seriously, we would
have to take responsibility for all the destruction of plants that we have wrought. She
followed up by asking about the possibility of plants using different types of signals,
wondering if they could use dishonest signals and whether plants have any capability of
intention? Van Volkenburgh responded that her definition of signal was rudimentary and
that a signal for her means only incoming information. Myers clarified that plants are
responsive to information coming from their environment, such as changes of temperature,
light, and heat. In plant behavioral ecology, plants generate bouquets and create an
atmosphere of senses that can be picked up and turned into signals for other plants and
animals. In this sense, dishonesty would be a kind of mimicry that thwarts the signal as
information, in other words, a kind of disinformation. This notion is of honest and dishonest
is stuck in a model of the world with internal vs external realities, in which organisms can
fail or succeed in representing and is based on a representationalist model of the senses.

Myers continued this line of thinking by asking: “why begin with doubt?” Plants can pay
attention and they have a willingness to stick it out. Their sensory antennae are such that if
they fail to pay attention, they are dead. Why not think of plants as beings that are sensing
and changing their environments and are anticipating the future. In this way, Myers
suggests, plants have a model of the future, seen in the vernalization process. Sunflowers
can be thought of as anticipatory, opening to where sun will come up. We have to shift our
assumptions about these concepts and think about what they might need to know about the
world to cultivate different kinds of respect for these organisms.

Feb 11, 2015 | Collaborating to Learn about Wicked Problems: Water, Food, and Energy in Rural India

Ashwini Chhatre, Professor of Geography at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Senior Research Fellow/Visiting Professor at the Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad presented a talk about sustainable development in rural India as a wicked problem.  Hosted by Andrew Mathews, SJRC Acting Director, the discussion following the talk was moderated by Ben Crow, Professor of Sociology, UC Santa Cruz.

A wicked problem is difficult or impossible to solve because of complex interdependencies, and the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem reveals or creates other problems. This is particularly true for agriculture-based rural livelihoods in India’s vast hinterland, which require tightly, connected household strategies to secure water, food, and energy under the shadow of an unpredictable monsoon regime. Interventions to improve rural livelihoods, with the best possible intentions, fail to have an impact in an unacceptably high proportion of cases, and often produce unintended and undesirable consequences for society and the environment. For example, an intervention to increase organic manure to improve soil fertility can easily set off a cascade where cowdung is used as domestic fuel. Women will have to collect more firewood, perhaps from farther forests, decreasing forest condition. The firewood will be of inferior quality, increasing adverse health impacts from indoor air pollution. Greater workloads for women will translate into higher classroom absenteeism and some girls will drop out of school completely. The diversity of disciplinary lenses required to simply outline the boundary of such a cascade is challenging enough; to try and bring these diverse perspectives to bear on improving the actual outcomes is a herculean task. But the pattern of outcomes is not unusual at all. Such a pattern with respect to a long list of well-meaning development interventions can only be described as shooting in the dark, and occasionally shooting ourselves in the foot. This requires a creative response to the design and evaluation of interventions for improvement of rural livelihoods. It requires harnessing research, education, and practice in ways that enable a learning-while-doing approach to sustainable development. By definition, wicked problems do not have a solution. The sustainable development challenge can, however, be formulated as one of identifying the combinations of interventions necessary in specific contexts that improve the possibility of improvements and reduce the incidence of adverse outcomes. This presentation describes such a collaboration between NGOs, researchers, and public agencies in India, with an emphasis on the challenge of producing a body of knowledge that is credible, legitimate, and salient with all relevant actors across multiple scales.

Ashwini Chhatre has recently relocated from the University of Illinois to India from the US to serve on the faculty at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. Ashwini has an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Delhi and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University. In between, he spent 11 years working with local communities and social movements on democratic governance of natural resources in India. Ashwini was the Giorgio Ruffolo Post-doctoral Fellow in Sustainability Science at Harvard University during 2006-07, and serves as a faculty member in the Department of Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2007. Ashwini’s research investigates the intersection of democracy with environment and development, with a more recent focus on rural livelihood dynamics in rainfed systems across agro-ecological and socio-political contexts. Ashwini has co-authored one book and published articles in Science, PNAS, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Conservation Biology, Journal of Peasant Studies, World Development, and other journals.

Ben Crow is a professor of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz. He trained and worked as an engineer in London and Africa, and was an activist and volunteer in South Asia, before becoming a social scientist. His PhD is from Edinburgh University in Scotland, and he taught at the Open University in UK and at Stanford and UC Berkeley before coming to UCSC. He has done research on conflict and cooperation over international rivers in South Asia, leading to a book Sharing the Ganges: the politics and technology of river development; on traders, township markets and the making of social classes in rural Bangladesh (Markets, Class and Social Change: Trading Networks and Poverty in South Asia); on global inequalities (The UC Atlas of Global Inequality (online) and The Atlas of Global Inequalities, with Suresh Lodha). His current work explores how access to household water in low-income urban settlements shapes the time and constrains the prospects of poor households and how the global idea of adequate water access promoted by international institutions - ‘safe drinking water’ - limits understanding and social change to improve water access and reduce poverty.

"Collaborating to Learn about Wicked Problems: Water, Food, and Energy in Rural India"Wednesday,
SJWG Rapporteur Report
11 February 2015
Rapporteur Report by Samuael Topiary
Professor Chhatre provided an introduction to the “wicked problems” of sustainable development in rural India
where attempts to alleviate poverty and malnutrition and develop new approaches to agricultural development can
create unintended consequences. He provided us with stories, lessons and insights from his work on
interdisciplinary approaches which seek to link disparate perspectives from academia, journalism and NGO work in
order to change attitudes, restructure public investment in agriculture and produce desirable outcomes.
Professor Chhatre began by explaining that wicked problems are ones in which there is no clear solution to a
problem and that all efforts to address this problem create or reveal more problems. He suggested that this situation
creates a boundary problem whereby issues cascade across disciplines and make the original problem seem
impossible to address. In attempting to seek solutions to the huge issue of rural poverty and malnutrition in India,
Prof. Chhatre described a three-pronged approach in which small-scale “proof of concept” projects are created in
seven different locations in India. He stressed the importance of the scale of each project, which had to involve
several thousand people, in order for the scale to be large enough. These pilot projects involved the integration of
multiple layers of interventions: approaching the issue of rural poverty and malnutrition by intervening in different
aspects of agriculture and food distribution. These multiple layers include soil, seeds and water access, converged
with public investments. The multidisciplinary approach of his work included economic analyses of agricultural
subsidies (who receives what subsidies and where) as well as of food storage systems and places in which food
waste occurs.

Professor Chhatre described a system-wide approach to analysis which includes environmental cost considerations
and can generate alternative ideas, such as implementing incentives which advocate for better food production (what
plants can be most environmentally efficiently grown where) and the distribution systems (how can transportation
and storage needs be modified by growing more food locally). He stressed the importance of collaborating with
government agencies in order to generate knowledge and change behaviors, as well as the importance in generating
knowledge which captures the complexity of rural livelihoods. This approach thinks about agriculture in relation to
other systems and is founded on place-based knowledge about local cultures which can bring an awareness of
unintended negative consequences and can make improvements that learn from problems. This approach, a learning
while doing approach, leads to a research framework which can thus make claims about what works and what
doesn’t work.

After discussing this approach as a general interdisciplinary framework for research, Chhatre described three
concepts that “get in the way,” and serve as ideological blindspots which naturalize the status quo in ways that are
difficult to see. These concepts are 1) the Discount Rate as a predictor of the future; 2) price as indicator of
scarcity; and 3) productivity per hectare as a measure of performance. In each case, the economic assumptions
which underlie the capitalist system at work in agriculture are seen as obstacles which must be understood,
debunked and overcome.

Following Prof. Chhatre’s presentation, Ben Crowe asked how is he able to work with economists in the face of his
underlying critique of standard economic ideologies. Chhatre responded that he cannot collaborate with economists,
but rather he finds it more productive to work with philosophers. Because he questions underlying assumptions
about Economic Growth and “fetishized” assumptions about India’s rate of growth (generally understood to be 5.5%
annually), Chhatre suggested there would be no need to confront tropes of economic growth if people are better fed
and that the question for India should be focused on equity and distribution of wealth rather than growth. He also
suggested that one road to amelioration of India’s poverty issues is in open outcomes, where farmers have the option
of going to market on their own terms. A number of questions in the audience focused on labor issues and the notion
of the aspirations of young people growing up in rural areas.

Donna Haraway (Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness, UCSC) asked about the issue of
scale and Chhatre’s early suggestion around thinking about abundance, rather than being trapped with scarcity
thinking. Chhatre responded by explaining that in order for NGO’s to act as a substitute to government and to
become an agent for government change takes a long time. The instinct for NGO’s is to help people directly, but this
does not produce long-term, systemic change. Therefore, Chhatre suggests there must be new approaches tried.
One of these approaches is using middle school children for data collection and reporting. For example, they have
the school children collect rain fall data and when certain flowers start blooming. In this way, they reduce the need
for expensive monitoring equipment, and include students in the process; allowing them to visualize ideas for
themselves and seeing themselves as the drivers of change.

Andrew Mathews asked how to avoid creating wicked problems. Chhatre clarified that his approach reframes
situations not as choices between but rather as a choice to put together elements differently in such as way that a
system of public investments can be put in place and combined in ways which work locally so that it is possible for
these new approaches to happen. For example, in creating an incentive for farmers to use organic manure in order to
replace chemical fertilizers they have to work through the cascades of effects that this change will create. So, being
able to see that this change in fertilizer means that the use of cow dung will be diverted from its previous use as fuel
which will also mean that women will have to spend more time transporting the dung to the fields and collecting
firewood or shift to inferior fuels. In other words, this shift to organic fertilizer will end up increasing a burden on
women and could also result in increasing girls’ absenteeism from schools. People intervening in soil don’t think to
ask about the state of the local forest or whether girls go to school. Chhatre’s approach shifts from a focus on
singular intervention to combining multiple interventions, which can account for the energy deficit and therefore
combine the shift to organic fertilizer with kerosene subsidies, so the cascade effect can be nipped in the bud and
women’s labor valued. This approach necessitates asking what else is missing and how to monitor that? Mathews
points out that this focus on multiplicities avoids “empty world thinking.”

The conversation continued with other questions about water systems and questions which address new ways of
understanding the legacy of the Green Revolution. Haraway added that this approach emphasizes actual knowledges
and practices of actual workings over modeling and abstractions or theory. She suggested that we have outmoded
notions of knowledge and that this complex systems theories in which multi-factor processes allow us to let go of a
certain need for precision. She stressed the importance of interdisciplinary communication and expressed optimism
for this approach.

Dec 03, 2015 | A Conversation with Jim Kent on the Ebola Genome Browser

 Jim Kent joined the Science & Justice Working Group for a conversation on how he and his team created the ebola genome browser. He will discuss not only their successes but the challenges they faced as they provide insights into the larger problems of knowledge and justice raised by the ebola crisis.

Jim Kent directs the genome browser development and quality assurance staff of the UCSC Genome Bioinformatics Group. He created the computer program that assembled the first working draft of the human genome sequence from information produced by sequencing centers worldwide and participated in the informatics associated with the finishing effort. The UCSC Genome Bioinformatics Group participates in the public consortium efforts to produce, assemble, and annotate genomes.

For more information on the bowser, see Kent’s interview by the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the UCSC Genome Browser Blog.

Engineering 2, 475 | December 03, 2014

Nov 19, 2014 | Is Bamboo the Next Green Gold?

 "Is Bamboo the Next Green Gold? Balancing the Needs of Vernacular Builders, Non-human Forest Dwellers and Green Architects in the Age of Sustainability"

One of the fastest growing plants in the world; bamboo has emerged as a silver bullet for sustainable design and architecture. However, bamboo also has long been used in artisanal construction in Asia and South America, where it is part of important ecological and cultural systems. Its commercialization brings us back to a now familiar problem: How should we manage nature without damaging the systems that bring us these materials? Can bamboo satisfy all its lovers or – like sugarcane for ethanol – will it become the next green gold? Darrel DeBoerJennifer M. Jacobs and Rudolf von May will examine this significant problem, while focusing on tropical bamboo as an emerging case study.

Panel speakers

Darrel DeBoer is a leading figure for Architects for Social Responsibility and Green Building, who was named by Metropolitan Home magazine in 2001 as “one of the 100 most influential designers” and by Natural Home magazine 2005 one the 10 “Green Architects.” In thirty years of practice, he has used structural bamboo, straw bales, earthen & lime plasters, earthen floors and salvaged materials in an effort to find alternatives to toxic or scarce materials used more often today. Darrel has written and co-authored seven books on building with these materials, including Bamboo Building Essentials and The Art of Natural Building. In addition, he has taught sustainable building techniques through UC Berkeley Extension, the Academy of Art University, Merritt College, the County of Alameda and the City of San Francisco. See his work at: http://www.deboerarchitects.com/

Jennifer M. Jacobs is a biologist, who has studied bamboo forest biodiversity in Peru’s Amazonian region. Her latest research focused on beetle community ecology in bamboo forests. In collaboration with Rudolf von May, she co-authored the article titled: "Forest of Grass: Discovering Biodiversity in the Amazon's Bamboo Jungles" in the Journal of Natural History. Jacobs is also interested in teaching environmental education in K-12 schools.

Rudolf von May is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, UC Berkeley, who grew up in the rain forest region of Central Peru and has studied frogs living in bamboo forests. For the last 15 years, in collaboration with other scientists, he has been tracking amphibian biodiversity in the Andes-Amazon region. This research has been featured in National Geographic and Los Angeles Times, among others (see video at: https://sites.google.com/site/rvonmay/).

Co-Sponsored by the Departments of Anthropology, Politics, and Sociology | Hosted by Luz Cordoba

November 19, 2014 | 4:00-6:00PM | Engineering 2, room 475

"Is Bamboo the Next Green Gold?: Balancing the Needs of Vernacular Builders, Non-human Forest Dwellers and Green Architects in the Age of Sustainability"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
19 November 2014
Rapporteur Report by Luz Cordoba
First, Jennifer M. Jacobs and Rudolf von May presented their research on Guadua
bamboo ecologies in the southwestern Amazon. Creating a “patchy” topography, Guadua
bamboo is a fast growing clonal plant that creates mono-dominant patches that span more than
300 square kilometers. Yet, in the southwestern Amazon, Guadua bamboo adds to the
heterogeneity of the rainforest by sheltering and interacting with a diversity of species.
Bamboo, Jacobs stated, experiences mass flowering and collective die-offs, even when
patches are non-contiguous. Luz Cordoba asked how are egregious flowering and collective dieoffs
temporally coordinated across these disconnected patches of bamboo? Jacobs responded that
some theories suggest that there is speciation among patches. Darrel DeBoer, our third presenter,
pointed out that the Guadua Jacobs referred to are smaller varieties. Larger varieties reproduce
mostly asexually because the seeds of the largest species of Guadua are not viable. He stated that
“if you go back far enough (to study these patches) you may find that an entire species is one
plant.” Most of these bamboos spread asexually through a rhizomatic root system, which give
rise to new bamboo culms. Through this underground system, one individual may spread and
“colonize” large and often non-contiguous territories, creating new patches. Despite its
separation from the mother plant, these patches are temporally synchronized, which results in a
species dominating different territories, but also disappearing at once.

Bamboo forests, Jacobs suggested, are largely understudied, particularly in the area of
genetics and ecology, but during the last twenty years, recent advancements in satellite
technology have allowed researchers to study large patches in the Amazon. Researchers
speculate that the spread of bamboo forests may have come from wild fires or native people’s
swidden agriculture. For instance, the study of mound formations in Argentina has shown that
pre-Columbian people worked with bamboo. Jacobs’ research on Enema Pan (rhinoceros beetle)
was inspired by these anthropological discoveries. In the Southwestern Amazon Jacobs and von
May found similar mounds in bamboo forests. Upon excavation of these large mounds, they
found E. Pan. E. Pan, working at the base of the Guadua bamboo, shreds open the culm,
exposing its sap and allowing other insects to feed off the sap. The male E. Pan forms the mound
when digging its burrow. The male beetle then guards the burrow at its entrance. Jacobs
speculates that they feed on Guadua and use these tunnels to raise their larvae.

Von May finished their talk with a survey of the different species that inhabit the inside
of bamboo. He explained how a weevil makes a hole in bamboo, which opens it to other species.
Surprisingly, amphibians are a large group of species that live, reproduce or find shelter in
Guadua. In particular, he called our attention to a particular poisonous frog that uses the inside of
Guadua as a breeding space. In southeastern Peru, this small frog, less than an inch in length,
takes advantage of the structure of Guadua by laying eggs on the walls of the bamboo after
mating inside of it. The nodes of the bamboo are usually filled with water. The male frog looks
for available pools free of predators while carrying hatched tadpoles on their back. Von May
pointed out that this phenomenon of amphibians using bamboo as a breeding ground is not
particular of Peru, but takes place wherever there are these types of bamboos. To date, scientists
have documented at least another five species of amphibians that use Guadua bamboo as shelter.
Like frogs, there are a number of vertebrates, such as birds, that use bamboo as shelter, retreat
and breeding grounds. Von May concluded by pointing out that it takes millions of years for
such species to develop such strong relationships with plants like bamboo, “making us wonder
what would happen if the bamboo habitat disappears?”

DeBoer spoke about the importance of thinking about land use in today’s environment.
He stated, “there are millions of people who would accept living in really high density places in
order to save other land for other things.” In order to do that, DeBoer asked, “What do we need
to be building?” He thinks that we should be constructing as densely as possible buildings that
are “at least 4 to 5 stories high, as densely as possible.” In order to build sustainably, DeBoer
thinks the goal is to get “people to live in 25 units per acre.” This translates to about 1,500 square
feet per unit. He points out that under the right conditions, “transit works without subsidies when
you have 25 units per acre.” Sustainably constructing these spaces will depend also on the
materials we use. DeBoer highlighted how concrete is responsible for 8% all our greenhouse
gases and 30% of our energy goes to building and another 30% goes into transportation, so
building densely will save all of that energy, he argued. Bamboo is a perfect material to build
dense cities because some of its species, particularly, Guadua angustifolia, have strong walls that
can sustain human structures.

In reference to Cordoba’s question of how do you take a natural material like Guadua,
and use it without industrializing it, DeBoer explained that people have found techniques to
transform it without capital/energy intensive processes. Andrew Mathews asked DeBoer whether
he foresees people building their high-density bamboo cities next to their bamboo forests?
DeBoer responded that one way to see this is that one must grow as much bamboo as the area to
be built with it. So, “if you want a house this big, you plant that much bamboo.” And he, pointed
out an example in Asia where people were directed to grow bamboo next to their lots in order to
build their own homes. DeBoer continued to explain that to build with soft wood, the current
paradigm, would take a few acres to build the same house, partly because of the nature of the
fiber of bamboo. Mathews asked whether there are “big industrial projects to build with Guadua,
and is there a fear of destroying these large bamboo forests?” Von May said that in Peru bamboo
is used in small-scale projects but in Brazil there are paper projects where large tracks of bamboo
forests are cleared. In these last cases bamboo is very profitable. However, von May highlighted
that it is very common that people think of bamboo “as a weedy plant, a grass” and they are more
concerned with clearing up land for agriculture because it is more profitable. Kristina Lyons
added that one of the things that has been left out of the conversation are the legal structures that
forests farmers must adhere to in order to make decisions about what plants to cut. She stated, “it
all depends of what Amazons you are talking about, because they are many Amazons. The
Amazons are many worlds.” In Colombia, which still follows a colonial system, farmers must
clear 3 quarters of the land in order to obtain legal title over the land. Farmers want to
incorporate forestry into their farms but they cannot because of this, and if the forest is not
farmed, the mining and oil companies are free to exploit it. She pointed out that these policies do
not protect the forest, but mostly protect the rights of multinational corporations to exploit it.
Lyons raised an important point that we must be mindful of the geopolitical, constitutional and
economic forces that force people into certain relationships with the forest.

Lastly, Karen Barad pointed out the constant use of the verb colonize in order to describe
the ecologies of bamboo. She suggested that, as insiders, scientists get really used to using
certain terminology. Barad asked the scientists what they have thought may be the implications
of using this term, “and what epistemological and methodological issues may arise from the use
of that terminology?” Rudolf responded that in ecology and biology there are few
generalizations. One, he said, is the Island Biogeography where organisms that arrive from the
main land are conceived as colonizers. Thus, in ecology is common to describe organisms that
arrive from another place as colonizers and the process described as one of colonization. Jenny
added that although she uses this terminology, rather than colonization, she sees it as movement
rather than colonization. Barad commented that while she understood that this word has a
genealogy within the sciences, it, nonetheless, carries an array of meanings and assumptions that
take place without thinking about it. She commented that colonization “…is a term about
insertion, rather than a welcoming or a kind of invitation.” Barad’s pointed out that, “the words
we use as scientists do all kinds of work for us and they carry entire models with them…(they)
may be a vehicle for background assumptions.” Andrew added that thinking about beetles
colonizing bamboo makes us think only of a one way relationship, but, he asked, “is the bamboo
getting anything out of it?” Parasitization, he pointed out, is often not a one-way process and
thinking of it in this way we may pay more attention to the return not just the arrival. Karen
finished the conversation by summarizing this discussion with an important question. She asked:
What is not being asked as the result of that or being pay attention to?

Oct 15, 2014 | Sea and Cities: Interdisciplinary Research in the Baltic

The Baltic Sea is one of the largest brackish water bodies in the world. It is an especially sensitive sea, because it is a shallow and semi-enclosed body of water that receives a considerable load of pollutants from the surrounding countries. The pollution of the sea has become one of the most important common environmental issues for countries in Northern Europe. Today's environmental problems are, however, the collective result of political decisions made in the past (not unlike the San Francisco Bay). Environmental historian Simo Laakkonen (Adjunct Professor of Social and Economic History, University of Helsinki) will draw from his experiences in directing multidisciplinary research networks in the Baltic Sea Region as he speaks about doing research on different spatial scales, time spans and with scholars representing science and technology. Maya Peterson (Assistant Professor of History, UCSC) will ask him to reflect upon his experiences of directing this interdisciplinary research group.

4:00-6:00pm | Engineering 2, 475 | October 15, 2014

"Sea and Cities: Interdisciplinary Research in the Baltic"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
15 October 2014
Rapporteur Report by Samuael Topiary
This presentation by environmental historian Simo Laakkonen provided an introduction to the
historical and political aspects of working and studying the ecological history and current state
of the Baltic Sea. One of the largest brackish water bodies in the world, the Baltic Sea is an
especially sensitive sea, because it is a shallow and semi-enclosed body of water that receives a
considerable load of pollutants from the surrounding countries, both western European and
former Soviet bloc countries.

The presentation began by distributing a map of the Baltic Sea region which illustrates the
Cold War divide established in 1945 between the three Socialist states: USSR, Poland and East
Germany, the western European countries of West Germany and Denmark and the supposedly
politically neutral Finland and Sweden. By orienting us geo-politically, Maya Peterson opened
the presentation by invoking the idea of the ecology of war in relation to environmental
history.

Prof. Laakkonen began by explaining that the Baltic Sea is both the most polluted and the most
studied and protected sea in the world. Then, he corrected himself, to clarify that the Baltic is
no longer the most polluted sea; that dubious distinction belongs to the China Sea. He also
explained that the Baltic is a young sea, less than 10,000 years old, formed during the last Ice
Age. This semi-closed sea contains both salt water, in the areas close to the outlet to the ocean
near Denmark, and fresh water from melting glaciers and lakes, which tends to be concentrated
in the northern area between Finland and Sweden and further south and east. Because of this
unusual mix of two different ecosystems, there is a much smaller amount of marine species who
develop and can survive in this mixed habitat. There are very few places in the world which
have this kind of mix of salt and “sweet” water and this, coupled with the fact that the Baltic is a
very shallow sea which can freeze over easily, make the ecological issues with respect to habitat
restoration and pollution cleanup challenging.

The discussion turned to an exploration of the question: “How and why to study the
environmental history of the Baltic Sea?” Prof. Laakkonen outlined what he sees as the three
main challenges for his work: 1) the overall relations between humans and nature 2) the
environmental crisis in relationship to pollution, 3) the lack of a sense of the big picture of
what has happened in the sea as an international picture. He explained that he approaches
these challenges from a multitude of academic disciplinary perspectives. Beginning with a
history of science perspective, his international research team looks at how pollution has been
studied, the various political and cultural as well as scientific approaches to measuring and
understanding pollution and its causes. This approach also requires his team to gain an
understanding of the history of environmental technologies and agricultural technologies
which have been used or continue to be used. This includes an analysis, as much as is
possible, of the types and quantities of chemical fertilizers which different countries have used,
in order to be able to provide analyses of what types of pollution may have been coming from
what sources and when. Finally, Prof. Laakkonen spoke about the inclusion of a history of
policy making and the environmental media which was generated beginning in the 1960s and
70s. He explained that this research work starts at the local level exploring what municipalities
have done in terms of taking care of water treatment, especially in the Nordic countries. From
the local level, this work then expands out to consider any national projects and legal structures
that may influence the environmental management.

One aspect of this work that Prof Laakkonen highlighted was the history of radiation and
radioactive fallout from large Soviet bombs as well as oil spills. Because environmental
awareness and problems of toxicity only began to be studied in the 1960s, Prof Laakkonen
noted the difficulty in gathering data and information that predated the 60s. He also noted that
the development of international cooperation began around marine life protection.
The issues of scales, in terms of timescales, human and geographic scales were discussed in
relationship to understanding water as a crucial resource for people as well as various industries:
fishing, transportation, industry as well as a source for drinking water and recreational
swimming and boating. The potential for international conflict in the management of such an
important resource with so many competing interests is obvious. However, there is also quite a
bit of contention and competition between local and state interests, thus making the needs for
international coordination quite complicated. On the individual level, notions about identity in
relationship to the sea are diverse and encompass people with strong maritime identities who
live along the coastlines vs. urban dwellers who often don’t have the same appreciation or
values when it comes to protecting the maritime environment, and these differences are
politicized. Maya Peterson asked about how the different political histories and the potentials
for conflict between the Warsaw Pact countries and the NATO countries have played out. How
has resource use impacted cooperation and are some countries more responsible for pollution
than others? These questions did not elicit clear answers. Prof Laakkonen suggested, as he did
in answer to many other questions, that the data is as yet inconclusive. However, he did suggest
that our stereotypes of the East as polluters and the West as clean and more concerned with
environmental issues are not necessarily true. He pointed out that how information is framed to
be “policy relevant” and what motivations are in action “behind the scenes” makes the issue of
justice in relation to history difficult to parse.

Andrew Mathews asked about the most surprising pattern that has emerged and if this story has
an impact on scientific research being done today. Prof Laakkonen suggested that there were no
simple answers. He suggested that focusing on one thing means you neglect something else and
that the lure of the simple answer often obscures other truths. He invoked the example of the
disappearance of the crows from Helsinki in the 19th century, suggesting that often causes for
phenomenon are not known for 100 years or more.

Donna Haraway (Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness, UCSC) asked
about the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers in the 1950s in the wake of the conversion of
the chemistry industry from war to peacetime uses, tying the ecology of war to agriculture and
plant physiology. Prof Laakkonen said this has not been studied and therefore there is no data,
though he does want to find out how farmers got their information about what to use and he
added that Finnish farmers (unlike farmers elsewhere) were very suspicious of synthetic
fertilizers. A number of other participants asked questions, which were answered
inconclusively, stating that there was “lack of data.”

Maya Peterson closed the session by appreciating how difficult such interdisciplinary and
multinational historical perspectives can be to manage and marveling at the potential such a
study presents. The promise in bringing scientists and humanists together provides an
opportunity for us to learn to trust each other and work together.

Oct 08, 2014 | Bike-Body-Trail Assemblages

 

The Science & Justice Working Group presented "Bike-Body-Trail Assemblages," exploring a comparative approach to mountain biking in California and Austria.  This panel explored how riders’ subjectivities are attached to and enacted by (changing) technologies of leisure, in context of local discursive and bodily practices.

In today’s late modern society the increasing importance of leisure activities, of having fun, of getting or staying fit and healthy is suggested by the media and a plethora of artifacts as found in sporting goods. When viewing leisure practices as mutual co-formation of making one-self available to what happens in contact with things, investigations can be anchored at debates on (new) technological objects. However, not only the talk surrounding technological objects is of interest here but how incremental changes of them can have effects on the activity, hence on us. Therefore the incremental change of wheel standards in mountain biking is chosen to finely investigate how classifying products, positioning and evaluating them leads to the formation and classification of subjects attached to those goods.

What makes this case particularly interesting is how this incremental innovation seems to provoke or allow questioning and (re-)negotiating affiliated subjectivities, pointing to the entanglement of capabilities of the subject and the object. As debates on the matter of bigger mountain bike wheels often suggest, all discourse is arbitrary if not also experiencing the ride, trail, and artifact with the body. To account for bodily and discursive practices in the field and the cultural embeddedness of this bike-body-trail assemblage, a multi-sited comparative approach between California and Austria is chosen to see one site through the lens of the other. Methods contain the observation of online forum discussions, sales situations in shops, participant observation of test rides, and interviews with riders and sales persons. The research addresses a shortage of international comparative small- to medium-scale leisure studies, extends existing studies on media and mountain biking into the practices themselves, and aims to offer insights on how subjects and objects are (re-)configured in leisure and sporting practices.

Robin Rae: Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna, SJRC Visiting Scholar

Wade Hall: Owner and Fitter, Spokesman Bicycles

Emilie Dionne: Postdoctoral Researcher, Feminist Studies, UCSC

Engineering 2, room 506 | October 8, 2014

"Bike-Body-Trail Assemblages"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
8 October 2014
Rapporteur Report by Robin Rae, Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna, SJRC Visiting Scholar
Mountain Biking: a comparative approach in California and Austria on how riders’ experiences
of body and landscape are attached to and enacted by (changing) leisure technologies.
This event followed the experimental character of the Science & Justice Working Group, as
introduced by SJRC’s Co-Director Andrew Mathews, which emphasizes interdisciplinarity,
discussion and questioning at any times. The panel reflected great diversity by including Wade
Hall (shop owner and certified bike fitter at Spokesman Bicycles, Santa Cruz), Emilie Dionne
(Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSC politics/feminist studies), and Robin Rae (PhD candidate Science
& Technology Studies Univ. of Vienna, Scholar IHS Vienna). Participation of UCSC cycling
team’s president Mark Tingwald added further valuable insights by bringing in a rider’s
perspective. The material attendance of a special fitting bike from Wade, and Mark’s mountain
bike and body helped to exemplify issues brought up in the event. With it being open to the
public, attendants’ disciplinary backgrounds ranged from Engineering, Mathematics, and Physics
to Sociology.

First, Robin offered a frame for the event by elaborating on the assemblage of bike, body, and
trail. Highlighting the material heterogeneity in each of its components inevitably lead to
outlining how entangled these are at the same time, affecting and enacting each other in specific
ways. Presenting pictures of mountain bikes and local (unauthorized) trails in particular sparked
up an early discussion on how political issues are involved in this assemblage and (local) riding
practices.

Wade’s presentation was a captivating experience as it involved everyone and every body in the
room to stand up and feel how different muscle groups are activated in varying postures. Making
adjustments on the fit bike demonstrated how slight changes in the bike’s setup could affect the
riding experience. Wade however also underlined how the fit needs to take into account how
flexible and structurally strong the body is, for the bike to act as an extension of the body.
The far-reaching thinking of Emilie offered facets from material-political participation of the
body entangled with objects, to personhood, and matter having agential capacities. Introducing
her concept of the prosthesis, drawing on feminist theory of the dis-/abled body, opened up
minds and eyes of many by referring to how mundane artifacts like chairs or steps affect material
reality. With including the past in the body and regarding its materiality as plastic-like she
further brought the dimension of time into the ongoing discussion.

The final open discussion was then extending the prior exchange of thoughts, experiences, and
ideas, which took a dynamic of its own, not needing any initial questions. The mix of
perspectives from different academic and non-academic fields contributed to an experience of
mutual learning, leaving attendants with many things to think more about at meeting points of
humans, non-humans, and landscapes.

May 28, 2014 | Preventing Cervical Cancer in Nicaragua

“Preventing cervical cancer in Nicaragua. Can vaccines and screens be means of solidarity?”

Speaker: Kaye Edwards, Associate Professor, Haverford College
Host: Jake Metcalf

Kaye Edwards will talk about why cervical cancer, which is largely preventable, remains the most common cancer among women in impoverished countries like Nicaragua. Her talk will cover the natural history of this disease to highlight potential points of intervention; the social, political and economic factors that help explain why cervical cancer mortality rates are up to 12-times higher in some countries than in the United States; and the larger issue of the need for community engagement in discussions about how to prevent and treat diseases.

A member of Haverford’s faculty since 1986, Edwards received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology and did post-doctoral research in tropical parasitology in Boston. She currently teaches courses that explore various facets of social justice, including how they are embodied in the health of communities and how they are informed by Quaker faith and practice.  She is the coordinator of Haverford's new interdisciplinary minor in Health Studies and currently serves as the faculty director of Haverford's Quaker Affairs Office. Edwards was Director of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship from 2003-2006 and is the founder of Haverford House, CPGC’s post-baccalaureate community-action program in Philadelphia.  She is a convinced Friend and a member of Radnor Monthly Meeting; she serves on the Board of ProNica, a Quaker organization working in solidarity with community groups in Nicaragua, and on the Corporation of Haverford College.

May 28, 2014 | Engineering 2 Room 599

Kaye Edwards, "Preventing Cervical Cancer in Nicaragua: Can vaccines and screens be means of solidarity?"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
23 April 2014
Rapporteur Report by Lizzy Hare
Haverford University Professor Kaye Edwards spoke to the Working Group about her
efforts to reduce the mortality rate of cervical cancer in Nicaragua. Edwards was originally
trained in developmental biology in the same lab as Susan Strome (Professor of Molecular,
Cellular and Developmental Biology at UCSC) at University of Colorado, Boulder. As she
progressed in her academic career, Edwards became increasingly interested in pursuing her
interests in health and social justice. While many advancements in basic research promise to
eventually advance medical treatment, there is often less attention given to how those treatments
will be taken up in the world, and whether or not they will be available and feasible for those in
need. Edwards has been working with local groups to prevent, detect, and treat cervical cancer,
which has a very high mortality rate in Nicaragua.

Cervical cancer has a very strong link to Human papillomavirus (HPV), but as Edwards
explained, there are many other biosocial risk factors that play a role in determining who will
ultimately develop cancer. Many now believe that cervical cancer is best prevented through
vaccines, but this must happen before women (and increasingly, men as well) are sexually active.
Secondary prevention requires the identification and elimination of pre-cancerous legions. In
wealthier nations, this is often done with pap smears and extraction with LEEP, but these
techniques require multiple office visits and trained physicians. See-and-treat with acetic acid
(vinegar) and cryotherapy is a low cost option that requires only one office visit and less
equipment. Tertiary prevention of cervical cancer mortality includes surgical ablation,
radiotherapy, and/or chemotherapy, which is inaccessible to most women in Nicaragua. This
model of preventing, detecting, and treating cervical cancer is effective, but it is also highly
individualistic.

Rather than looking only at the individual, Edwards reminds us that we need to consider
an eco-social model of health that takes into consideration the relationships, community and
society that each woman is a part of. When Edwards first went to Nicaragua, she met Maria
Elena Bonilla, the founder and director of Centro de Mujeres Acahualinca, a clinic that started
with grassroots efforts in a low-income neighborhood of Managua. During that visit, Edwards
learned that the men in the community had not been particularly concerned with women’s
mortality rates. It made her realize that even community-led projects might silence a number of
voices. When she returned to the US, she tried to help them gain access to free-of-cost vaccines
for HPV, but encountered multiple roadblocks. She learned, yet again, that there are a number of
structural hurdles in place.

Edwards realized that the grassroots level of organization is useful for understanding
what the community wants and needs, as well as cultivating trust and respect. At the same time,
grassroots clinics struggle to gain access to adequate funding, space, training, pharmaceutical
supplies and technology. Instead of taking a charity approach to assisting grassroots efforts, she
advocates solidarity. For Edwards, being in solidarity means working with these women for a
common goal, rather than simply trying to help. With her final slide, Edwards asked the working
group “What could you do with your talents, expertise, skill sets, professional and personal
networks, and capacity to learn, to prevent premature suffering and undue deaths?”
The first questions after the break were about the efficacy of the vaccine and how it might
be distributed more effectively. While there are several suggestions for how it might be
administered to more young women, Edwards reminds us that because cervical cancer is such a
slowly progressing disease, and because the HPV vaccine could only prevent approximately 70%
of incidences of cervical cancer, there still needs to be a commitment to detection and treatment
of precancerous lesions and cancer. There are also a number of social factors that need to be
mitigated, such as stress-induced immunosuppression and early sexual activity. Vaccination
could have a tremendous impact, but it needs to be incorporated in a broader program of care and
education.

Luz asked if there might be other factors that are causing the extraordinarily high
mortality rate for cervical cancers in Nicaragua. Edwards reiterated that HPV is a necessary but
not sufficient factor for cervical cancer. She had already mentioned several social factors that
play a large role, such as early pregnancies and poor nutrition, among others, but there might be
environmental factors as well, such as pesticides. Part of the challenge of fighting cervical
cancer in Nicaragua is that there are very limited databases for tracking this kind of information.
Jenny mentioned that this touches on one of the issues that Science & Justice has been
discussing this year. If cancer is thought of as being caused by a virus, then it is a single-cause
illness that can have a single cure. Also, if a virus causes it, it is possible to ignore complicated
environmental or social factors. Edwards agreed, and added that most health initiatives take the
nation-state as the unit of analysis, which ends up obscuring other factors that regions might
share. This has tremendous implications for determining responsibility. If cancer is seen as an
infectious disease, then it is an issue belonging to the individual, to that women’s reproductive
health, rather than an issue mired in complex environmental and biosocial factors. With this, a
student from Strome’s lab spoke up, pointing out that she and her colleagues focus on the virus
because they are trained in molecular biology, not social science or politics. Edwards agreed that
the molecular biologists should be focusing on the virus, because that is the best use of their
training, but that they should have more opportunities to share that expertise with others working
in fields that might also be important for treating a complex issue like cervical cancer mortality.
It is exactly that kind of broad-based knowledge and openness to collaboration that Edwards has
been working to cultivate in her students at Haverford.

May 14, 2014 | Broadening Participation in Science and Engineering: Social and Intellectual Diversity

At this panel discussion, we will discuss how cultural values shape what research questions are asked and how research is conducted. Science and engineering have long been portrayed as merely merit-based domains, or, as historians of science have called it, a ‘culture of no culture’. The demographic within these fields is commonly viewed as unrelated to the quality of knowledge produced, and therefore only a concern in so far as funding agencies mandate it to be. Drawing on specific examples we will examine how research questions change depending on who is asking them, teasing apart the complex relations between research agendas and the socio-cultural identities of scientists and engineers. Investigating these questions will contribute to a better understanding of the importance of diversity within STEM fields. Furthermore, a shared examination of the experiences of inclusion and exclusion will help develop a better grasp of how to pursue social equity within science and engineering fields. Finally, it will also produce insights about what kind of knowledge is produced and for whom.

Moderator:

Ruth Müller a postdoctoral research fellow at the Research Policy Group, Lund University, Sweden and lecturer in Gender Studies, Biology & Science-Technology-Society, at the University of Vienna, focuses her research on the relations between research policy, institutional frameworks and scientific work practices, currently in the fields of climate science and epigenetics. Müller is interested in critical reflection of contemporary academic work practices and social movements in this area, such as the slow science movement. Dr. Ruth Müller joins UC Santa Cruz for a second Visiting Scholarship with the Science & Justice Research Center.

Panelists:

Faye Crosby, Provost of Cowell College, Chair of Council of Provosts, and Distinguished Professor of Psychology at UCSC specializes in social justice. Her research interests looks at the relation between objective (i.e., consensual) and subjective reality; she has looked at individual attitudes in the context of social change and stability. Crosby's current work investigates the bases of people's reactions to affirmative action and has launched a new series of studies on how people can undertake non-revolutionary changes in rules that come to be revealed as unfair. She is also examining other ways, such as mentoring, of enhancing the peaceful evolution of work organizations.

Barbara Gee, has 35 years of experience in the computer industry, where she has held leadership positions in all functional areas. She has worked for HP, Silicon Graphics, TiVo, and other well known tech companies. In addition, Barb has served in leadership roles in the non-profit sector (including Huckleberry Youth Programs), and prior to joining the Anita Borg Institute was the Executive Officer of Human Resources for the Oakland Unified School District. She has also served on the San Mateo County Commission on the Status of Women, the Board of Global Exchange, and is an Advisory Board member of the STEM Academy at McClymonds High School in Oakland California. Barb currently serves as the Vice President of Programs for ABI, where she oversees the execution and development of programs focused on increasing the participation of women in technical roles, with the belief that when the inventors of technology mirror those who use it, society gains. Barb received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley, and her Masters in Management at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T.

Joan Haran, a Research Fellow at Cesagene (Cardiff Centre for Ethical and Social Aspects of Genomics and Epigenetics) at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences whose research revolves around gender, representation and technoscience. She is particularly interested in the policing of boundaries between science fact and science fiction. Haran has a BA (Hons) in Literature and History from North Staffordshire Polytechnic, an MA (Dist) in Gender, Society and Culture from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Sociology from Warwick University. She co-authored the monograph Human Cloning in the Media: From science fiction to science practice (Routledge 2008) which drew together media, cultural, and feminist technoscience studies preoccupations and methodologies to document the symbolic and material labor of making genomics in the media.

Melissa Jurica, Associate Professor of MCD Biology at UCSC oversees the Jurica Lab, a research lab at UCSC working to understand the structural and functional analysis of spliceosomes a tiny molecular machine found in all human cells, as it plays a critical role in how our genes encode for an organism as unique and complex as a human being. She has recently become the director of the UCSC Initiative to Maximize Student Development program, which supports both undergraduate and graduate students in an effort to increase diversity in biomedical research.

Thanks to Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) for facilitating the following recordings of the event:

Broadening Participation Video: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Engineering 2, Room 599 |  May 14, 2014

"Broadening Participation in Science and Engineering: Social and Intellectual Diversity"
SJWG Rapporteur Report
14 May 2014
Rapporteur Report by Lizzy Hare
At this Science & Justice Working Group Event, Lund University postdoctoral research
fellow Ruth Müller moderated a discussion about how diversity within the STEM fields might be
expanded. Panelists Fay Crosby (Provost of Cowell College, and Distinguished Professor of
Psychology at UCSC), Barbara Gee (Vice President of Programs at the Anita Borg Institute for
Women and Technology), Joan Haran (Research Fellow at the Cardiff Centre for Ethical and
Social Aspects of Genomics and Epigenetics at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences), and
Melissa Jurica (Associate Professor of MCD Biology at UCSC) shared their experiences and
specific examples of inclusion and exclusion within the STEM fields. Science & Justice
Research Center Director Jenny Reardon welcomed participants and the audience, adding that
the topic has been appearing more frequently in recent news media, and that she’s interested in
the rise of this concern during a time when there doesn’t seem to be a lot of progress being made
towards equity and inclusion.

Ruth introduced the discussion with a reminder that issues of inclusion have always been
a part of scientific knowledge production. In the early days of the experimental sciences,
scientists distinguished themselves by portraying themselves as the “modest witness” who could
transcend the body to make observations of the world that were not occluded or biased by the
researcher’s perspective. Crucial to the operation of these laboratories were those whose
contributions could not be counted as objective science, due to their non-white, non-male, nonbourgeois
bodies. When multiple others began to demand access, many of those who were most
successful embodied the “neutral” characteristics of white, male, bourgeois science as best they
could, effectively creating a science that could claim inclusion while still ignoring the
contributions of other ways of life. Müller asks us if it is perhaps time for science to accept that
it only allows in a select few, and that the traits that are seen as necessary for a good scientist
exclude a number of potentially excellent thinkers and scholars.

Faye Crosby began her contribution by explaining that she believes strongly in the value
of positivism, and that she believes this value is exclusive of gender. In her experience, there has
often been a pretense of using standards of merit, yet non-scientific values are able to creep in.
She used a social psychology study on affirmative action as an example. In that experiment,
white male subjects were asked to review applications for a single prize. They received
information about a person of color, or a white person. In half of the situations the persons of
color had low test scores but excellent letters of recommendation, while in the other group, it was
reversed. The reviewers showed a clear preference for white candidates, and justified it either
with the letters of recommendation or the test scores, depending on the case. Either way, they
claimed to be fair and unbiased in their decision making process. Faye used this example
because she wants to make the case that we should not change the way we do science to make it
more “feminine”, but rather, we should make it more scientific and make sure that the same rules
apply all over. This will require taking notice of all of the small structural factors that make it
easy to continue to enact practices that keep women down.

Barbara Gee discussed her work at the Anita Borg institute, and emphasized how the
institute uses scientific research to support the goal of the foundation. That research has helped
them to show that including women technicians and engineers in the research and design of a
product is both good social practice and good business practice, because it has been shown to
boost sales and yield more successful products. The Institute has had some success in fostering
relationships between women in computing and inspiring confidence, but they are still working
on how to change the culture within companies. Gee said that this is especially difficult because
so much of the problem lies in unconscious biases.

Melissa Jurica echoed many of the same sentiments that Crosby and Gee had shared with
the Working Group. Jurica explained that in her experience much of the problem lies in the
values that scientists are expected to share and to cultivate. These values might not promote
minority representation in science, and may even actively work to discourage it. She mentioned
aggression, self-promotion and skepticism in particular. For her, self-doubt is a form of
skepticism that she thinks might ultimately be beneficial to science, but it tends not to be valued
in laboratory settings. Because these values are seen as being neutral, it is hard for scientists to
recognize that privileging these values often means privileging certain kinds of people. Like
Faye, she encouraged the Working Group participants to utilize implicit bias tests as a way to
help people understand where their own prejudices may lie. In closing, Jurica also expressed
some frustration that women scientists are asked to participate in panels about diversity, but that
such talks often end up preaching to the converted, as it is too easy for those in majority
positions to ignore them. It is worth mentioning that in a full room, there were only two men who
were not directly affiliated with the Science & Justice Research Center.

Joan Haran brought the conversation outside of the context of the lab by discussing the
representation of women scientists in the media. Why, she asked, are women scientists in the
media so highly stereotyped? At the same time, she reminded us that realistic representations of
women scientists might not be desirable either. Fewer than 13% of professional scientists are
women, so if representations were accurate, their voices would be heard even less frequently.
But if representations of women scientists shift towards being aspirational, perhaps the better
move would actually be to disentangle the categories in the first place, and make space for
representations of scientists who happen to be women, or women who happen to be scientists.

One of the main concerns voiced during the discussion period was why there are fewer
women Computer Science undergraduates in the US now than there were in 1988, which was the
peak. Some seem to think that this could be because men present themselves as more confident
and self-assured, which leads women to believe that they are behind. Ruth asked if this might be
because we have myths about what science is as an activity, and that means that we tend to deemphasize
the importance of group effort in advancing scientific knowledge. Lauren asked the
panelists what could be done to make women more confident, and Faye responded by saying that
she does not want women to become as confident as men, but rather, she wants men to become
as humble as women. Melissa reminded us that all of these issues become more problematic
when there is a large gap in the gender divide in the workplace.

The matter of care and caretaking was also addressed in the discussion period. Melissa
attributes her ability to be successful as a scientist in part to her spouse who is willing to stay at
home. This caused others to wonder about the invisible labor of caretaking that has allowed
male scientists to be successful over the years.

In going forward, the Working Group is optimistic that the knowledge about gender gaps
and inequalities in science will be useful in making changes in the future, but there still seems to
be some concern around how to enact change in academic and private institutions.