The Intersections of STEM and Social Justice Series
In June 2020, SEAS launched a Community Conversations Series in response to cases of anti-Black racism, police brutality, and systemic inequality in our country. Over summer and fall 2020, we hosted a number of panel events to provide dedicated space for members of our community to discuss racial injustice and the strategies to address it as individuals, as well as an institution.
In Spring 2021, this initiative evolved into The Intersections of STEM and Social Justice Series to align with our School mission "SEAS is where engineering, foundational science and the liberal arts converge. Through education and research, we address global challenges and serve society". This series will explore the relationship between STEM and systemic oppression. We will invite renowned scholars to demonstrate how STEM can be applied to address social injustices, discuss how STEM has historically been used to sustain inequality, and provide research based best practices to improving STEM education for students of marginalized identities.
Dr. Terrell Morton, Assistant Professor of Identity and Justice in STEM Education, University of Missouri
Date: March 8th, 2021 @ 1 pm
Title: "Addressing Hostility: A Critical-Systematic Perspective of Engineering Culture and Its Implications on Black and Brown Student Engagement"
Abstract: Scholars and practitioners seeking to enhance Black and Brown students’ postsecondary STEM experiences often fall short in creating truly inclusive spaces as many of the proposed solutions do not address structural-cultural barriers that manifest as a result of systemic oppression. This presentation will provide ways to optimize engineering education that can enhance and advance Black and Brown students’ success, by introducing frameworks that help unpack the role of structural racism on student interactions and behaviors. Demonstrations on how to leverage these frameworks to create inclusive engineering learning environments are provided.
Dr. Renata Konrad, Associate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Date: April 6, 2021 @ 12 pm
Title: "Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts and the Potential of Engineering and Analytical Techniques"
Abstract: Human trafficking is a complex issue affecting society and economy. Forced labour and sexual exploitation represent a multi-billion dollar global industry, victimizing tens of millions of adults and children of all gender identities worldwide. It transcends national borders, is prevalent in both impoverished and wealthy countries, and undermines fundamental human rights and a broader sense of global order.
Do engineers have a role to play in countering human trafficking activity? I believe they do. To date human trafficking research has primarily focused on qualitative studies, statistical estimations of prevalence, and insights generated from economic models. However, a variety of engineering and analytical techniques have the potential to help address the unique challenges facing anti-human trafficking efforts including: the covertness of traffickers, the hidden nature of victim-survivors, fragmented data, and limited resources. This presentation will discuss ongoing transdisciplinary collaborations in this sphere and draw from several examples of ongoing projects. This presentation is designed to be accessible for all audiences.
- Identify opportunities for engineers and mathematicians to aid policy makers, service providers, law enforcement personnel, and other researchers counter human trafficking activity.
- Acknowledge challenges of modeling in these environments.
- Highlight the benefits of incorporating mathematical models into the decision-making process through illustrative examples.
SEAS and Boston University Graduate Medical Sciences hosted a panel on allyship in STEM, featuring nationally recognized faculty engaged in both STEM and diversity, equity, and inclusion scholarship as they discussed strategies to move from statements to actionable next steps in support of underrepresented students, faculty, researchers, and staff. Moderated by Dr. Alexis J Stokes, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Harvard SEAS and Farrah Belizaire, Associate Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Boston University School of Medicine.
- Dr. Tyrone Porter, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Myron L. Begeman Fellow in Engineering, University of Texas at Austin
- Dr. Karina Gonzalez Herrera, Associate Director of Diversity and Minority Affairs, Division of Medical Sciences, Harvard University
- Dr. W. Marcus Lambert, Assistant Dean of Diversity and Student Life, Assistant Professor of Education Research in Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine
- Dr. Brooke Coley, Assistant Professor in Engineering, Polytechnic School of the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, Arizona State University
Keynote Speaker: Dimitry Anselme, Executive Program Director, Facing History and Ourselves
SEAS invited Dimitry Anselm to not only educate us on the history of Juneteenth but celebrate freedom and culture. We gathered virtually to not only honor those that celebrated freedom on June 19, 1865, but also those that did not live to see that day. We recognize those that lie in the depths of the sea and the many that died on this land actively fighting for the freedom of Black people.
SEAS and the FAS Division of Science hosted a virtual panel and Q&A to discuss racial injustice, dealing with racial trauma, and strategies for change. The panel was moderated by Dr. Alexis J. Stokes, Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at SEAS.
- Dr. Ande Durojaiye, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Northern Kentucky University
- Dr. Evelynn Hammonds, Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
- Dr. Tiffany Pogue, Assistant Professor of Education, Albany State University
- Dr. Tracy Robinson-Wood, Professor of Applied Psychology, Bouve College of Health Science, Northeastern University
Books recommended by panelists:
1. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
2. Too Much Schooling, Too Little Education: A Paradox of Black Life in White Societies by Mwalimu Shujaa
3. Evidence of Things Not Seen by James Baldwin
4. Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire