Asking Different Questions Research Training Series

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Are you a researcher with a commitment to justice, equity and diversity? Join the Feminist Research Institute of UC Davis for the Asking Different Questions research training series. Learn how to integrate your values more deeply into your scientific practices and gain the intellectual foundation to create and implement more equitable research agendas.

The attrition of women, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous scholars from STEM fields is due to not only explicit sexism and racism, but also to long histories of exclusion in scientific culture like norms around what counts as valid research.

[A Full interview with Associate Director Sarah McCullough is available now, with more information on the series and its sessions.]

This research training series will rethink how norms are replicated and how research questions are determined, necessary steps to creating more diverse STEM fields.

A full schedule with registration links is below. A discussion guide is available for any lab groups or research teams that wish to delve more deeply into these topics. Please fill out this form to receive a guide.  

Summary of Topics

Politics of Doing Science, October 14 @ 10am

How does culture influence science and what changes are necessary to bring about more just scientific research?

This session uses contemporary controversies to examine how histories of domination continue to impact ongoing scientific practice. Participants will learn how to compare competing theories of knowledge, describe the relationship between science and culture in their field, analyze how power shapes scientific debate, and engage in a reasonable discussion about the future of science. Case studies may include the proposed building of the Thirty Meter Telescope at Maunakea the building of pipelines and border walls, research at burial sites, sites of environmental injustice, and superfund sites.

Identity and Belonging in Science, October 21 @ 10am

How does our identity and position in the world affect our work as researchers? To what extent do we “fit in” to the culture of our lab and field? How is this fit influenced by histories of the field and the shaping of disciplines? How does this affect the research questions a field prioritizes?

Participants will learn how historically salient identities such as race, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and disability affect cultural norms of science. They will also explore how starting from different social assumptions can produce knowledge aimed at increasing social justice.

Identifying Bias in Scientific Research and Training, October 28 @ 10am

How have the histories of exclusion in science become embedded into the field, including the metaphors, languages, and scientific practices? How does a field’s choice of language and metaphor affect the scientific process?

The language and metaphors used in a field, or even the instruments developed, can carry with it unintended biases and assumptions. These choices can impact public uptake of findings, influence applications of research, and foreclose potentially rich lines of inquiry. Participants will examine the language and metaphorical practices used in their own field to identify key signifiers that may be limiting the possibilities of scientific inquiry and learn how shifts to contrasting language and concepts have led to new scientific discoveries and produced more equity in the field.

Hierarchy and Accountability in Science, November 4 @ 10am [Schedule change: this session was originally planned for November 25]

How do hierarchies of science and systems of power influence science? How do the ways we are beholden to funding and administrative structures impact the knowledge we produce?

Participants will discuss how hierarchies influence the types of research questions that we can ask, the type of work we can do, how conduct research, and the methods we use. How can more acute attention to the complexity of hierarchies help us to do better, more intentional research? This session also explores alternatives systems of accountability that shift research commitments to be in solidarity with those most vulnerable.

Studying Race, Sex, and Gender, November 18 @ 10am

How can we study race, sex, and gender in ways that are more precise to produce better research results? Race, gender, and even sex are sociocultural constructs. Yet they have real impacts on our daily lives and well-being. How can researchers best take these important identity markers into account without succumbing to a false biological determinism?

This session will identify common pitfalls that undermine research findings and identify more productive pathways.

Making More Accurate Knowledge, November 25 @ 10am [Schedule change: this session was originally planned for November 4]

How can more nuanced models of objectivity allow us to represent more accurately our research findings?

Scientific findings are often messier and situated in specific historical, institutional, and cultural conditions that go unacknowledged in published findings. Participants will be introduced to how models of objectivity have changed over time within the scientific community and learn about potential new, more accurate models that account for how science and culture interact.

Addressing Legacies of Colonialism in Science, December 2 @ 10am

How do the histories of colonialism continue to inflect scientific research? Legacies of colonialism impact what is considered a valid research question or approach today.

This session examines how histories of colonialism and empire influenced the emergence of disengagement as a value of scientific practice. Participants will learn how traditional notions of objectivity support an idea of detachment from the object of study, a divide between observer and observed. We propose an approach based in relationality that more accurately reflects the lived reality. The case study reading centers approaches in indigenous science.

Moving from Asking Different Questions to Action-Oriented Change, December 9 @ 10am

The tools developed by feminist science studies and critical race science studies offer great potential to change scientific practices. They encourage us to re-examine how the roots of inequity may still be present in our fields and suggest ways to create more equitable and just research agendas. How will we apply these tools to our own research practices and labs?

This session guides participants through a process to identify the actions they will take to engage in more just and equitable scientific practices. Participants will be encouraged to support each other in implementing their plans going forward.