In the wake of the public killing of yet another Black person at the hands of police, many science advocacy and educational organizations are affirming their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and their determination to combat institutional racism through their work. The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, and its signature program SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities), join those voices, share those commitments, and stand in solidarity with those who are exercising their rights and responsibilities by protesting for justice.
Diversity and inclusion in STEM was the founding rationale, and remains the primary principle and goal, for the SENCER project, which was developed to engage and empower learners, especially those “underrepresented” in STEM, by showing the connection between their learning in science and the social and civic problems that are immediately relevant to them. As the past week has made undeniably clear, systemic racism is one of the most urgent challenges we face as a society face today. It permeates every sector of our civic and social life, including STEM education, and inflects every other problem we face, from COVID-19 to the digital divide.
While affirming our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our own practice, the NCSCE and SENCER community understand that we need to do more to live up to, and hold ourselves accountable for, our ideals. To that end we will commit to:
- Putting equity and social justice is at the center of our educational and advocacy work and attending closely to our own blind-spots and biases in choosing the framing, language, and strategies we use;
- Listening to our colleagues who are Black, and those who work with communities of color, to make sure that our work is truly meeting their needs and supporting the success of underrepresented students;
- Amplifying the voices of Black educators in our network;
- Examining the role of racism and implicit bias in the institutions and practices of science and technology, by asking tough questions. Whose work is acknowledged? What questions can be asked and who can ask them? Who benefits, and who is excluded, from the gains produced by scientific research?