Monday, August 23, 2021

Research experiences and social justice

In the Editor's Choice section of the July 23 issue of Science Magazine Melissa McCarntney does a brief description of a biomedical research training program rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT). Trying to overcome my initial knee jerk response of 'this is total Woke bullshit' (after all, I am an old school college professor) I forced myself to actually read through the article in question - a really tough slog through a long jargon laden (intersectionality, etc) slew of words - to find a few sentences that gave some notion of what the experimenters actually did. Here is a clip from the Camacho et al. paper:
In summer training and throughout the academic year, training modules and discussions on racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination occur in BUILD PODER. We introduce students to the importance of cultural diversity in the sciences, implicit biases and prejudice in the forms of gender and racial microaggressions (Solórzano et al., 2000) and macroaggressions (Jones et al., 2010; van Ryn et al., 2015), impostor phenomenon (Cokley et al., 2013, 2015; Peteet et al., 2015), and stereotype threat (Steele, 1995, 1997; Jones et al., 2010). Students also learn strategies to deal with, overcome, and cope with these potential barriers and prejudices. Each module and workshop contains references to literature that highlights the intersection between racism and the sciences (e.g., van Ryn et al., 2015). These modules also include discussions about recognizing and highlighting what students can do when experiencing a micro-aggression.
This makes good sense, and appears to have helped the "URM" (underrepresented racial minority students). Here is McCartney's summary (the link to the article gets you its longer abstract):
Past diversity training initiatives have not yet led to equity in the STEM field. Camacho et al. propose a new tool to help approach that goal. BUILD PODER is an undergraduate biomedical research training program rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT). The program unites students and faculty around biomedical research questions while contextualizing these questions around issues of social justice. The integration of research and social justice allows for a curriculum directed at transparency, respect, and correcting the historical abuses in science. Analysis of outcomes among a sample of undergraduate Latinx seniors revealed that BUILD PODER participants reported higher levels of science personal identity and science social identity upon graduation, demonstrating a positive effect of CRT-informed research experiences on Latinx students' science identity.

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