Science & Justice Training Program

Karen Barad and Jenny Reardon, 2014 SJTP Certificate Reception

Karen Barad and Jenny Reardon, 2014 SJTP Certificate Reception

The Science & Justice Training Program (SJTP) trains science and engineering graduate students alongside social science, humanities and arts graduate students.

Our mission is to train a new generation of scholars who can reach across the natural and social sciences and humanities to address some of the world’s most pressing problems. Our students and faculty innovate research methods that are both empirically robust and ethically responsive. We teach students real-life strategies for exploring the meeting of questions of science and knowledge with questions of ethics and justice.

From climate change, health inequalities, environmental justice to gene patents, addressing today’s challenges require new approaches that draw together the expertise and creativity of people with diverse skills and knowledge. In 2012, we founded the SJRC to meet these 21st century challenges and to integrate concerns about justice and sustainability in research and teaching at UCSC and beyond. The SJRC grew out of the success of the Science & Justice Training Program (SJTP), initially supported by the National Science Foundation (2012-2014).  The SJTP is unique in its effort to broaden the scope of ethics education in science and engineering to include and build new sites and practices for pursuing social justice.

Science & Justice Graduate Curriculum and Training

The Science & Justice: Experiments in Collaboration seminar is the introductory course in the training program. The course draws together masters, early career PhD students and faculty from across all five Divisions. Fostering experimental and innovative practices for working together, this class offers a unique opportunity for graduate students from engineering, the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts to learn to labor together to understand and address critical issues.

The seminar is cross-listed in multiple departments, including Sociology, Anthropology, Feminist Studies and Biomolecular Engineering and will be offered Winter 2020. Our teaching techniques model collaborative conversations and often feature modules co-led by SJRC faculty affiliates, visiting scholars and guest lectures. These faculty model collaborative conversations that pair a science and engineering scholar with a scholar from the social sciences, humanities and arts. The course proceeds through problem-based inquiry, and students develop the skills of interdisciplinary collaboration, ethical deliberation, social and political analysis, and public communication.

PhD students at the start of their training have the curiosity, imagination, and flexibility to incorporate new methods into their research projects and generate novel approaches to scientific challenges. In the first quarter of training seminar, students learn to identify problems of concern, usually a specific object of inquiry: melting ice, HIV, Genetically Modified Rice, krill, solar panels, militarization, drones, declining populations of pollinator bees, and big data.

Course Description

Many of today’s most important challenges require collaboration across historic divides between natural and social sciences, arts and engineering, the academy and activism, and so on. Living on the planet with clean water, food and means for a good life requires forging novel enactments of justice along with expanded conceptions of knowledge and evidence. Forging livable and just relations among humans and non-humans are not just matters for legal experts, but are socioecological and biopolitical accomplishments. Deciding what property is and its future on a planet where ownership is the domain of the few proceeds not just in courtrooms, but in laboratories. This class offers a unique opportunity for graduate students from engineering, natural and social sciences, humanities and the arts to learn to labor together to understand and address these and other critical issues. The course proceeds through problem-based inquiry at the junction of science & justice. A series of classes will model collaborative conversations that pair a science and engineering scholar with a scholar from the social sciences, humanities and arts. Past topics include de-extinction, soil socio-ecologies, and racial justice and genomics. Throughout, you will work with your fellow students to imagine a possible collaboration that engages your own research questions.

Science & Justice Certificate

After completing the seminar, graduate students are invited to apply to the training program to receive continuing mentorship from SJRC affiliated faculty. The SJTP Co-Laboratory (Co-Lab) meets monthly to troubleshoot and strategize emerging issues within student research. In addition, SJTP fellows work closely with faculty to develop and plan a collaborative project or dialogue hosted by the Science & Justice Working Group. These projects and working group meetings produce public events and workshops at UCSC on topics of collective concern. Organizing these unique dialogues trains students how to communicate their work to non-specialist audiences and gives them the rare space to explore the common desire to build more just, more sustainable, and more locally relevant technologies and research practices. Students have until the end of the subsequent academic year to complete the following requirements.

  • Students must be currently enrolled at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • Enroll in and pass the course Science & Justice: Experiments in Collaboration (ANTH 267A, BME/FMST/SOCY 268A), with a letter grade of B or higher or S if enrolled as ‘S/US’.
  • Attend and participate in six Working Group meetings or approved co-sponsored events (SJRC hosts or co-sponsors 12-15 events per year).
  • Host an event: The final project for the course will be a proposal for a collaborative project or public event which connects the student’s research interests with other students and/or members of the community. Selected proposals will receive appropriate funding, and will be invited to present their findings or event to the Science & Justice Working Group. To complete the certificate program, students not presenting to the Working Group will be required to present an informal event or discussion with the SJRC community.
    • Project and Event Planning: Students will attend one group mentoring meeting per term in the subsequent academic year to keep Center staff appraised of their plans.
    • Rapporteur Report: Students will write a publicly available analysis of their project or event within two weeks of their culminating event. This analysis can be worked into a piece for wider publication.

Upon successful completion of all requirements, graduate fellows will receive a notation on their official university transcripts and a certificate of completion recognized by the UC Santa Cruz Academic Senate and Graduate Division.

SJTP Publications and in Popular Press

One of the goals of the SJRC is to produce and support original research that translate into public and online spheres. The SJTP is often looked at as an exemplar in interdisciplinarity programming and research, often appearing in press in the form of op-ed’s, coverage of event programming, and interviews about Center practices and methodologies. Select articles about the SJTP and coverage of it in the media are below:

Your support builds SJTP and trains a new generation

At SJRC, securing the future of our graduate training program is our top fundraising priority. We seek funding to support student fellowships, collaborative research projects, and student-driven Science &  Justice Working Group events. We also seek support for our interdisciplinary faculty who may teach “Experiments in Collaboration” and mentor our SJTP graduate fellows.