Playing with (Epistemic) Power: A Workshop on Critical Scientific Literacy

Willey, Angela and Sara Giordano – Playing with (Epistemic) Power: A Workshop on Critical Scientific Literacy for Feminists studio xx, Montreal


Sara & Angie start to present what they are doing, the connection between them and their research Round Table / Tour de table : Pourquoi êtes vous ici ? Why are you here ?

So we go around the room to find out everyone's interests Da : - Not so many place in my life for feminist science Mag. my 1st feminist meeting :-) What is the question? Thinks it's important, was a physics undergrad before getting into the social sciences Scientific Literacy important for the day-to-day Ln : - As a scientist, I know that it s important to be able to critic science Marg. dance background, interest in feminist approach to technologies Interested in feminist STS for critiquing technological innovations -- methodologies and critical aspects very important for her Al. Feminist agency. Public and communitar intersests. Struggles to deal with the health systems bullshi* from political middle -- how to mix scientific approaches of the health system and yet struggle against the beliefs that are often based on power of different knowledge systems, thinking towards empowerment A. Loves the word of epistemic and feminist epistemologies -- studying negotiation of contribution in public wikis and how knowledge was negotiated, also teaches computing engineers, having fun teaching them critical/queer approaches to technology -- interest for feminist antiracist crippled epistomology - intersectionality. Inspired by bell hooks and "teaching to transgress" -


What is epistemology ? The idea that knowledge is cumulative, is constructed Lots of lowercase "t" truths, many different truths

tensions between feminists seeing science as not relevant versus feminists using science or not critically engaging it, doing work in the name of science:

   What does it mean to claim a more "affectionate" relationship with science as something that holds a lot of power as a knowledge system?

It s time for feminist to develop a more AFFECTIONATE relationship to epistemologies

Learned to read science together through a collaboration, angie as a women studies grad student and sara as a neuroscience grad student. Experienced excitement by engaging science, including that which was not created through a feminist perspective Wanting to explore the issues of claiming science as feminist -- with something that has such epistemic power

Meeting: Compulsary Monogamy and leg Muscle Function:A tale of two queer feminist activist grad students

Science: ways to reproduce the culture properly vs : distrupting the approach to science and allowing other stories

Leg muscles differ in spatial activation patterns with differing levels of voluntary plantarflexion activity in humans. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17190979 ‘Christian Nations’,‘Polygamic Races’ and Women’s Rights: Toward a Genealogy of Non/Monogamy and Whiteness http://sex.sagepub.com/content/9/5/530.abstract VIDEO March of Pinguins

Science vs world of sciences (comoslogies, world systems) Sandra Hardy: The Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies Reader.


What are the steps etween the Lab >>> Newspaper ?

> interest > fundable > power dimensions: investigator, students, technicians (before starting the experiments) > HYPOTHESIS (negative result are dismissed) (only postive results) > publish platforms: edited, peer review, press relases > popular use > one scientific article may result in 1000s of public press reports > only those with positive results [where hypthesis matches the result

So all these press releases from many different public presses, but only originate from 2 scientific articles

    - Voles and promiscuity
    - DNA of Voles May Hint at Why Some Fathers Shirk Duties
    - Main scientific article by Elizabeth A. D. Hammock and Larry J. Young

Interactive reference Activity outline: https://www.dropbox.com/s/4pj1hcn3idlq3sp/activity%20outline.docx?dl=0 Vole Science Reading Workshop: Practicing Pedagogies of Critical Science Literacy 1)Read popular news article: Example article - “ DNA of Voles May Hint at Why Some Fathers Shirk Duties” by Nicholas Wade, June 10 2005, NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/10/science/10behave.html) a.What questions do you have about this research? (including clarifying and critique based questions (answer independently and then in small groups)

2) Discuss popular news article as a large group

3) Find primary science article that is the subject of this popular news article a. What information is important from the article? (e.g. scientist names, journal name, date, topic) b. Look up on PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ or other search engines c. Do you have access to this article through your institution?

4) Read through primary science article and underline parts that are confusing or interesting to you.

5) Read the section assigned to your group and prepare it for presentation with your group: a. Define terminology that may be important b. What is the main point of your section c. Explain the figure in your section in detail d.What does this section have to do with the rest of the article

6) Go through the entire article as a large group – figure by figure

7) Discuss: Which questions from your reading of the popular news article were answered by reading the primary science article?

8) Discuss: What are new questions that you have after reading the primary science article?

NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/10/science/dna-of-voles-may-hint-at-why-some-fathers-shirk-duties.html?_r=0

Hammock and Young article: https://www.dropbox.com/s/eimps54pe1pd4z1/hammockandyoung_microsatellitinstability_2005.pdf?dl=0


Willey, Angela and Sara Giordano – Playing with (Epistemic) Power: A Workshop on Critical Scientific Literacy for Feminists

Workshop Rationale: This workshop emerged from the presenters’ shared recognition of a need for greater scientific literacy in women’s studies, the humanities in general, and in the academy at large. Alongside this need, the presenters recognized the dangers of a “scientific literacy” frame divorced from the critical interventions of science studies, including the sociology, philosophy, and history of science. We envision a feminist professoriate and student body competent to engage scientific stories in their teaching, learning, and in everyday interactions with breaking scientific news, medical expertise, and casual explanations for difference. This workshop emerged as an attempt to create practical and accessible training in feminist science studies, training in a skill set we call “critical scientific literacy.” We imagine this skill set being put to use in curricular, community organizing, and other contexts, far outside the scope of “science studies.” Through this workshop, we aim to offer resources for resisting the pro/anti science frame that has so powerfully dominated the contemporary political landscape, disciplinary and otherwise. Trained in feminist theory and neuroscience respectively, we have collaborated as activists and in research and curriculum development for many years. Our work on critical science literacy draws on feminist science education and science literacy more broadly (see for example Angela Calabrese Barton and Matthew Weinstein). Together – and in dialogue with other colleagues and students – we have developed a working methodology for unpacking and reframing scientific stories. It is a methodology that resists a nature/culture framing that encourages us to read scientific truth claims as true or false, based in biology or in culture. Instead, our approach insists on curiosity, imagination, and political accountability as core facets of a critical approach to science with the potential to bring into being new knowledges, and in so doing, new worlds.


Workshop Description: This interactive workshop will begin with an account of our collaboration and how it informs our approach to critical science literacy. The workshop will prepare participants to engage scientific stories directly, in their teaching, research, and everyday life. We will describe paths that scientific results take from lab benches to popular news articles and explain how to use this understanding to back track from popular news to the original primary science publications of a laboratory. Participants will work through a model scientific article in groups. In addition to learning to find the scientific publications on which a particular pop culture or news media reference is based and read and understand its “results,” groups will practice generating questions that call attention to the cultural, economic, and political frames of reference that make the claims, and indeed the funding of the question at hand, seem logical. They will produce scientifically literate assessments of the claims of both the primary science article and it’s coverage that do not resort to dismissal of science out of hand or to the separation of good and bad science as biased and objective, respectively. Instead, they will practice using critical science literacy skills to explain how we know what we know in ways that blur the line between critique and knowledge production. Following this initial activity, participants will outline the steps necessary to apply the skills to an article of their choice that relates to a teaching or research area of interest. We will send participants home with resource sheets to help them repeat this methodology on their own outside of the workshop space. Handouts will also include references and sample assignments.