The response of higher education, including academic institutions, disciplinary organizations, and institutional membership associations, to the Trump administration’s ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been strong and unequivocally negative. Like many college and university presidents, Samuel Stanley of Stony Brook University, the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement’s home institution, affirmed his “unwavering support” not only for DACA as policy, but for the benefits that campuses and their broader communities reap from the inclusion of DACA recipients in the student body. “Diversity of perspectives, thought, and understanding serves as a foundation of Stony Brook’s academic enterprise and helps our students become global citizens.”
This ideal, that college graduates will be “global citizens” who understand the role that science plays in ensuring our common good, has been foundational to SENCER from its very beginnings. This is reflected in so many of model courses, from the earliest “Science, Society, and Global Catastrophes,” through “Life Science in Context: Sub-Saharan Africa and HIV-AIDS,” to “Virology,” and “Introduction to Technological Design,” all of which have explicit foci on global “grand challenges” that transcend geopolitical boundaries, such as chronic and infectious disease, the environment and climate, food security, energy, and lack of basic resources, that afflict developed and developing countries alike.
Like the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the SENCER project has always regarded access to science and scientific knowledge not only as a universal good, but as a “human right.” Similarly, the advancement of knowledge through access to education is a core commitment of American higher education that includes and transcends the national interest. As 346 college presidents have asserted, upholding DACA is:
both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent – and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.
NCSCE is proud of the robust and univocal response from the higher education community to the reversal of DACA. It is a policy decision that conflicts with the values of both the SENCER community and the much wider community of educators, which is to ensure that all students have the opportunity to both pursue their intellectual goals AND build their civic capacity, so that they can effect positive change and become full, contributing members of our global community.
Photograph of Eliza Reilly courtesy of Stony Brook Universityhttps://www.aaas.org/program/scientific-responsibility-human-rights-law