In the third session of the “Interventions” module, co-facilitators Doebeli and Kang led participants through a brainstorming exercise of three readings, each with a different perspective on the relationships researchers should develop with marginalized communities. The group then explored emergent climate solutions and potential role models in academia, before having a broader discussion about the erasure of Western academia’s tense relationships with racialized communities over the course of history.
Assessing three distinct perspectives on the role of academia
Identifying role models in academics/researchers with integrity
Assessing climate solutions developed by academia
Three perspectives on the role of academia
Co-facilitators Doebeli and Kang led the group through discussions about the role that academia should play in urgent social issues such as climate change. Discussing the contrasting opinions of Tuck & Yang, Meek, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, the group discussed the power imbalances that arise when researchers have access to resources that communities do not. The group also made note of historic patterns where academia and the non-profit sector increase access to minoritized communities, and thus become potentially implicated in dispossession. Below are participants’ reflections on the role of academia in racialized climate issues.
Role models: Academics with integrity
Co-facilitators Doebeli and Kang facilitated a discussion on the impact of academia on minoritized – particularly racialized – groups. Together, participants considered the harms perpetuated by academia alongside efforts by researchers to address urgent issues in a socially informed way. As a discussion tool, Doebeli and Kang developed “Pokemon cards” of potential role models in academia who demonstrate(d) integrity in their work.
During the discussion on the impact of academia on minoritized groups, participants became aware that the majority of the group were not aware of the historic role of academia in justifying, upholding, and advancing ideologies of white supremacy. Participants discussed why this history is not often incorporated in undergraduate science curricula and expressed interest in learning more. In response, co-facilitators Doebeli and Kang referred participants to Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man. Participants were able to access this text after reading a content warning and consenting to view the content on the Conversations online portal.
Climate solutions from academia
During this exercise, participants were invited to consider a number of climate solutions covered in popular media and challenged to imagine the ways in which academic role models may engage with these techniques. Doebeli and Kang then facilitated a discussion on what is missing in this list of climate solutions, prompting participants to consider bias towards natural science research in discussions of solutions for climate change, a profoundly interdisciplinary issue.