The Science & Justice Research Center (SJRC) aims to produce and support original research. Our community events and faculty-initiated research projects inform a range of interdisciplinary research topics at the intersection of science and justice. Find out more information on our fundraising efforts to further support Center researchers and projects as highlighted below. You can also view the Center’s completed projects.
The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI)
The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) analyzes federal environmental data, websites, institutions, and policy. We are an international network of 175 members from more than 30 different academic institutions and 10 non-profit or grassroots organizations, as well as caring and committed volunteers who come from a broad spectrum of work and life backgrounds. We seek to improve environmental data stewardship and to promote environmental health and environmental justice, and we work in collaboration with other organizations and communities concerned about climate change, science policy, good governance, and environmental and data justice. For further information please contact, Lindsey Dillon.
Experiments in Participatory Data Science and Just Modelling
Melissa Viola Eitzel Solera is a graduate of the Environmental Science, Policy, and Management program at UC Berkeley (with dissertation work in Statistical Ecology) whose research goal is to improve the sustainability of Californian and global ecosystems using sophisticated data synthesis techniques that facilitate broad public engagement.
Working with Jenny Reardon (UC Santa Cruz Professor of Sociology and SJRC Director) and Ken Wilson (The Muonde Trust), Dr. Eitzel Solera leads the NSF-funded project, “Understanding Resilience in a Complex Coupled Human-Natural System: Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Information and Community-Based Action Research,” involving a 35-year collaborative research project in rural Zimbabwe run by The Muonde Trust. Together with the community research team, they are developing methods of modeling the resilience of their system and synthesizing their long-term data to answer pressing concerns about sustainable environmental management. They are also making theoretical and practical contributions to more just modeling practices in an age of “big data.”
Jail / Care: Amplifying Santa Cruz Community Voices on Health & Incarceration
The project is a pilot phase of a larger project whose goal is to investigate the conditions of health care in the Santa Cruz County jails. After a series of preventable deaths in the local jail, concern has arisen in the community regarding the quality and accessibility of health care in Santa Cruz jails. This project will document health care in the Santa Cruz jail, using the methodologies and perspectives of research team members in the Sociology, Film and Digital Media, and Psychology departments, as well as community organization Sin Barras. Sin Barras is a group formed in 2012 in Santa Cruz, CA comprised of individuals dedicated to prison abolition. Sin Barras’ mission is to advocate for meaningful alternatives to incarceration, amplify voices from inside jails and prisons, and connect with local, statewide, national, and international struggles against prisons, with the ultimate goal of abolishing the prison industrial-complex.
The intended outcome of this project is to generate a compelling and informative account of health care in the Santa Cruz jails that centers the experiences of those receiving it, with the ultimate goals of informing the public, making policy recommendations, and amplifying the voices of the formerly incarcerated community. The project is a pilot that will inform the later stages of this project.
It will involve 10-20 semi-structured interviews with formerly incarcerated people and service providers in community health agencies. Interviews with formerly incarcerated people will focus on their experiences receiving health care in the local jail, and interviews with health care providers will focus on their observations about the health needs of formerly incarcerated patients they serve and the continuity of care across the systems available to them. These interviews will be conducted by the student co-investigator and audio recorded (with informed consent), yielding audio recordings that can be used in multimedia presentations during later stages of this project (when informed consent is given for this specific use).
Sharon Daniel (Digital Arts and New Media), Jenny Reardon (Sociology), Kate Darling (Bioethics at Stanford), Mary Beth Pudup (Community Studies), Andrea Steiner (Community Studies)
Graduate Student Researcher
Just Biomedicine is a UC Santa Cruz-based research collective that examines the meeting of biomedicine, biotechnology, and big data along the Third Street corridor in the Mission-Bay neighborhood of San Francisco. Many hope that this convergence will democratize access to health information and produce revolutionary new medical treatments that new companies will make available to the public through market mechanisms. Yet, as in other domains, living with technoscientific transformations over time reveals how they produce new inequalities and injustices: new challenges to democratic governance; new surveillance regimes; and new forms of social stratification. These often-hidden justice dimensions can be hard to visualize and hard to stand up for. This is especially the case in the biomedical informatic domain, where criticism of specific developments can be interpreted as standing against developments in healthcare more generally. Nonetheless, stratified health and wealth outcomes manifest at this celebrated innovative edge of technoscience. Our collective seeks to understand and bring into view how this happens in the spaces and infrastructures that shape life on Third Street, and asks how we might help bring about a more just form of biomedicine. For more information on this cluster, contact Jenny Reardon or Dennis Browe.
Queer Ecologies Research Cluster
The Queer Ecologies cluster is a reading group that meets every other week to investigate how sexuality and concepts of nature have been historically linked. In particular, we are interested in how evolutionary and ecological science has informed what is “natural” and how we use this information to delineate certain sexual behaviors as normal or aberrant. Queer Ecologies seeks to examine the historical making of the natural as it relates to sexuality while communicating the overwhelming diversity of sex and gender in biology. For more information on this cluster, visit the Queer Ecology webpage and contact Paloma Medina.
The Race, Genomics, and Media Research Cluster
The Race, Genomics, and Media cluster explores the avenues by which genomic research contributes to new narratives of racial difference in comparative contrast with older racial discourses that emerged during colonial, postcolonial, and contemporary moments. We are particularly interested in how diverse media technologies diffuse and reinfuse these racialized representations through networked virtual and geographical social spaces. Our analytical foci extend to a critical examination of how media representations of difference rebiologize both race and gender in seemingly objective ways that visually and sonically naturalize health disparities, color-code deviance, legitimate social inequality, and quantify human intellectual potential. For more information on this cluster, contact James Doucet-Battle.
Theorizing Race After Race
In the post-WWII, post-fascist, post-nationalist moment, a dominant story developed both within and outside the academy that ‘race’ had no meaning or value for understanding human biology. Despite the so-called end of ‘race’ over the last several decades, scholars continued to track the subtle manner in which racial thinking continued under the cover of culture, religion, population and ethnicity. Today, however we see an overt return to race, a return facilitated and mediated by novel forms of science and technology: genomics; machine learning; algorithmically driven media platforms. From David Reich’s New York Times op-ed arguing that there is a genetic basis to ‘race,’ to renewed interest in Charles Murray and The Bell Curve, several prominent public intellectuals have sought to buck what they perceive as the ‘politically correct dogma’ of race as a social construction. At the same time, members of the alt-right are embracing genomics research to support their claims for a ‘white ethnostate.’ ‘Theorizing Race after Race’ seeks to develop a framework for grappling with these reconfigurations of race after the supposedly ‘post-racial’ moment. Our goal is understand how knowledge of the genome and ideas of human difference circulate, taking on different meanings across diverse historical-geographical contests.
Recruiting Sweetness: Translating Race, Risk, and Gender in Type 2 Diabetes Research
The book project entitled Recruiting Sweetness: Translating Race, Risk, and Gender in Type 2 Diabetes Research, explores knowledge production emerging from the increasing importance of biological and racial difference in diabetes research since the genomic revolution. Doucet-Battle define’s Translation as an interpretive process that filters knowledge production through recruited research categories of difference, themselves reflections of the racialized hierarchies that modern sugar production co-produced historically by changing forms of global capital. By “Sweetness,” James refers to sugar both as a cultural metaphor for diabetes in the African American community and as a consequential metabolic engine of modernity characterized by Mintz (1985) as the historical collision of race, labor and consumption driven by global capital. James provides an ethnographic recounting of three distinct, successive, and interrelated technological moments between 2008-2012, when causal explanations of Type 2 diabetes changed radically. During these three research moments – clinical drug trial, diabetes risk prediction technology, and genomic research, respectively, participatory inclusion of African-descent research subjects and researchers became more acute. Recruiting Sweetness therefore presents translation as a racialized process of modern knowledge production about Type 2 diabetes. It maps the ways capital seeks to transform “ideas to income,” in contrast with older narratives of translation as an applied transfer of scientific research “from bench to bedside.” For more information, contact James Doucet-Battle.
Science Feminist Anti-Racist Equity (FARE) Collective
Science FARE (Feminist, Anti-racist, Equity) is a collective to stand up for truth and justice. We advocate robust science, evidence based politics, and the integration up stream of justice goals in science and technology infrastructure. Our social and natural contracts are broken, and so is the link between them. For more information on this cluster, contact Jenny Reardon.
Telling the Truth: Objectivity & Justice Research Cluster
The Objectivity & Justice cluster critically examines what the terms fact, truth, and reality signal to each of us in relations to our own research and disciplines since the inauguration of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. At the same time that it is of utmost importance that facts, truth, and reality be asserted to counter the normalization of lies and fake news used to obscure the truth and manipulate the public, large bodies of scholarship showing the non-innocent and often times harmful use of these terms in ways that collude with the forces of power, including colonialism, racism, militarism, etc. We anticipate that these terms will spark a variety of different associations depending on our fields of study and warmly welcome undergraduates, graduates, and faculty. For more information on this cluster, contact Karen Barad or email ObjectivityAndJustice@ucsc.edu.