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Where Science and Social Justice Meet

Join NOVA Education for three virtual events dedicated to the intersection of STEM education and social justice.

ByKara NortonNOVA EducationNOVA Education
J Marion Sims.png

A sculpture of James Marion Sims. Often “portrayed as a champion of women’s health,” this 19th-century “father of modern gynecology” developed many of his techniques by conducting unethical research and experiments on enslaved Black women. Image Credit: Matt Green/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As communities across the country grapple with the legacy of institutional racism, many educators are evaluating the role they can play in addressing systemic racism. One way to begin doing this is by making a conscious effort to become educated about the history that has shaped this country — including the history of science — and acknowledging the ways in which racial inequities continue to exist and shape society. NOVA is committed to providing educators with resources to address the racial inequities that impact students. This fall, NOVA Education has organized a three-part speaker series dedicated to discussing the intersection of STEM education and social justice.

The History of Scientific Racism (and Why it Matters for STEM Educators)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Watch Here: NOVA Education YouTube

Historically, science has been conceptualized as objective, neutral, and apolitical. In reality, however, it is not. Science is carried out by real people and, thus, can be shaped by their beliefs, social values, and biases. In this talk, Udodiri R. Okwandu discusses the histories of unethical medical and scientific practices used in America from the 19th century to the present to demonstrate how science has and continues to perpetuate racism and inequality in society. In tracing this history, we hope that this webinar will empower STEM educators to account for gaps in science education in order to engage in more equitable and anti-racist pedagogy.

To learn more about the history of scientific racism and how to talk about it with your students, check out this list of resources.

History Reconsidered

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Watch Here: NOVA Education YouTube

The second installment of the webinar series will feature a talk from Dr. Clint Smith, a writer, poet and scholar who will help educators wrestle with the complicated truths about the country we live in. In many K-12 education settings, the United States is lauded as a country of great opportunity and economic mobility. However, to engage US history truthfully and accurately means we must interrogate how the US history of violence and exploitation helped generate its economic foundations. These realities shape the lives of our students, and the landscapes of our schools. In this talk, combining poetry and history, Dr. Clint Smith will help crystalize how this history has shaped the contemporary social, political, and cultural context of our world today — specifically our schools — and how to talk about it with your students.

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Bringing a Justice Orientation to K-12 STEM Teaching & Learning

Tuesday, November 10, 2020
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NOVA Education YouTube

The final science and social justice webinar will include a presentation from Dr. Edna Tan, professor of science education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Dr. Angie Calabrese Barton, professor in the Educational Studies Department at the University of Michigan. Calls to increase equity in teaching and learning are often framed only around inclusion — ensuring that learning opportunities are available for all students. Unfortunately, this perspective of equity is limiting and does not adequately address how systemic injustices manifest in classroom practice and impact student learning. In this workshop, Dr. Edna Tan and Dr. Angela Calabrese Barton will share a justice-oriented framework that highlights how STEM educators can make connections to the realities and issues that guide students’ lives, sharing case studies drawn from formal and informal STEM teaching and learning.

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National corporate funding for NOVA is provided by Draper. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers. Additional funding is provided by the NOVA Science Trust.