Close reading, PBL, and tensions

A tension that has arisen often in conversations between my co-instructor and myself as we prepared for an upcoming course in life science, gender, and race, texts… – by tension I don’t mean something that is a disagreement or even something that has to be resolved, indeed perhaps the essence of co-teaching is that there are tensions to be played out in real time. The tension is that she understands that we cannot assign hundreds of pages to be read each week and still follow the project-based learning (PBL) process of the course, yet she knows how much her scholarship and her teaching revolves around very close reading of texts. Read more of this post

Compilation of links distributed to Thinktank on Science and Social Justice education

“…Bringing critical analysis of science to bear on the practice and applications of science has not been well developed or supported institutionally. Given this, I have contributed actively to the development of society-at-a-small-scale, through new collaborations, programs, and other activities, new directions for existing programs, and collegial interactions across disciplines and regions…” (from Intersecting Processes: complexity and change in environment, biomedicine and society) Read more of this post

Open Spaces for Changing Science and Society

What concepts and practices help us work in the arena bordered on one side by critical interpretation of the directions taken by scientific and technological research and application and on the other side by organizing social movements so as to influence those directions?  The metaphor of “open spaces” in the title of the post suggests that the issue is not so much to bridge the two sides as it is to acknowledge the value of discussion, reflection, and clarifying one’s identity and affinities with both sides kept in view.

Whereas the young Karl Marx proclaimed that the “philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it,” what happens when we allow for more dialogue and deliberation before—or as a complement to—jumping into campaigns for change? (In this spirit, open spaces has been used to characterize Social Forum meetings, which take place at the world, national, and regional levels.) Interpretations from science and technology studies (STS) often suggest that things could be (or could have been) otherwise, but when should effecting change be the litmus test of STS critique? What can we learn from examples of explicit and implicit open spaces and what can we share from our own experience?

This question has arisen, in particular, in follow-up discussions among recent participants of the New England Workshop on Science and Social Change (NewSSC).  How can NewSSC articulate and develop its role as a valued open space for participants, some of whom return many times for a recharge and affirmation of aspirations that are not well supported in home institutions and day-to-day interactions?

“Open Spaces for Changing Science and Society” has been chosen, therefore, as the theme for the May 2011 NewSSC, to be held in Woods Hole, MA, USA May 15-18. Applications are sought from teachers and researchers (including graduate students) who are interested in moving beyond their current disciplinary and academic boundaries to explore the theme.  Applications due 15 Jan. 2011.  For more details, and

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