WGS.160J | Fall 2019 | Undergraduate
Science Activism: Gender, Race, and Power

Readings and Videos

[B] = Buy at MIT Press Barres, Ben. The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist. MIT Press, 2020. ISBN: 9780262539548. [Preview with Google Books]

[BE] = Beckwith, Jon. Making Genes, Making Waves: A Social Activist in Science. Harvard University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780674009288. 

[J] = Jerome, Fred, and Rodger Taylor. Einstein on Race and Racism. Rutgers University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780813539522. 

[S] = Schmalzer, Sigrid, Daniel S. Chard, and Alyssa Botelho, eds. Science for the People: Documents from America’s Movement of Radical Scientists. University of Massachusetts Press, 2018. ISBN: 9781625343185. 

Weekly reading guides are provided to suggest issues and framing questions to be explored through the readings.

WEEK # TOPICS READINGS AND VIDEOS
1 Science, power, and social responsibility

Read:

[BE] Chapter 1: The Quail Farmer and the Scientist. [Preview with Google Books]

[BE] Chapter 2: Becoming a Scientist. 

Rotblat, Sir Joseph. “A Hippocratic Oath for Scientists.” Science 286, no. 1444: (1995): 1475. (Note: Click on the eLetters tab to read responses.)

Bernal, J. D. “Part 1: The Emergence and Character of Science.” In Science in History, Volume 1: The Emergence of Science. Faber & Faber, 2010. ISBN: 9780571273003. [Preview with Google Books]

Keller, Evelyn Fox. “Gender and Science: An Update.” In Women, Science, and Technology: A Reader in Feminist Science Studies. Edited by Mary Wyer, Mary Barbercheck, Donna Geisman, et al. Routledge, 2001. ISBN: 9780415926072. [Preview with Google Books]

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

Levins, Richard, and Richard Lewontin. The Dialectical Biologist. Harvard University Press, 1987. ISBN: 9780674202832. [Preview with Google Books]

2 Nuclear weapons and gender

Read:

[BE] Chapter 3: Becoming an Activist.

Oppenheimer, J. Robert. “War and the Nations.” Chapter 10 in Atom and Void: Essays on Science and Community. Princeton University Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780691633022. 

Weisskopf, Victor F. “Forty Years After: Thoughts of a Nuclear Witness.” Chapter 16 in The Privilege of Being a Physicist. W.H. Freeman & Co., 1990. ISBN: 9780716721062. 

Gusterson, Hugh. “Becoming a Weapons Scientist.” Chapter 1 in People of the Bomb: Portraits of America’s Nuclear Complex. University of Minnesota Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780816638604. [Preview with Google Books]

———.“Feminist Militarism.” PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 22, no. 2 (1999), 17–26.

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

Gusterson, Hugh. People of the Bomb: Portraits of America’s Nuclear Complex. University of Minnesota Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780816638604. [Preview with Google Books]

3 The Nuclear Freeze campaign and the role of organizers

Read:

[BE] Chapter 4: On Which Side Are the Angels?

Wittner, Lawrence S. “The Nuclear Freeze and Its Impact.” Arms Control Association. 

Forsberg, Randall. “Call to Halt the Nuclear Arms Race.” (PDF)

———. “The Impact of Activists on Nuclear Disarmament.” (PDF) H-Net Reviews in the Humanities & Social Sciences. May 2004. (Note: This is a review of Lawrence S. Wittner’s books The Struggle Against the Bomb: Volumes 1–3.)

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

Rhodes, Richard. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Simon & Schuster, 1986. ISBN: 9780671657192. [Preview with Google Books]

View:

CNN Crossfire: Helen Caldicott with Tom Braden and Pat Buchanan, Part 1.” 1984. YouTube.

CNN Crossfire: Helen Caldicott with Tom Braden and Pat Buchanan, Part 2.” 1984. YouTube.

War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Randall Forsberg, 1987.” Open Vault from WGBH. 

4 The birth of environmentalism

Read:

[BE] Chapter 5: The Tarantella of the Living.

Carson, Rachel. “A Fable for Tomorrow,” “The Obligation to Endure,” and “Elixirs of Death.” Chapters 1–3 in Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. ISBN: 9780618249060. [Preview with Google Books]

Norwood, Vera L. “The Nature of Knowing: Rachel Carson and the American Environment.” (PDF) Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 12, no. 4 (1987): 740–60.

Di Chiro, Giovanna. “Teaching Urban Ecology: Environmental Studies and the Pedagogy of Intersectionality.” Feminist Teacher 16, no. 2 (2006): 98–109.

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. ISBN: 9780618249060. [Preview with Google Books]

Krishna, Sumi. Environmental Politics: People’s Lives and Development Choices. SAGE Publications, 1996. ISBN: 9780803993136. 

View:

American Experience: Rachel Carson.” 2019. PBS.

5 Climate change

Read:

[BE] Chapter 6: Does Science Take a Back Seat to Politics?

“Political Interference with Government Climate Change Science: Testimony of James E. Hansen to Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, United States House of Representatives, March 19, 2007.” (PDF)

Hoggett, Paul, and Rosemary Randall. “Engaging with Climate Change: Comparing the Cultures of Science and Activism.” Environmental Values 27, no. 3 (2018): 223–43.

Hadden, Jennifer. “Explaining Variation in Transnational Climate Change Activism: The Role of Inter-Movement Spillover.” (PDF) Global Environmental Politics 14, no. 2 (2014): 7–25.

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

McAdam, Doug. “Social Movement Theory and the Prospects for Climate Change Activism in the United States.” Annual Review of Political Science 20 (2017): 189–208.

View:

TED Talk: James Hansen-Why I Must Speak Out about Climate Change.” 2012. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading.

6 The Civil Rights movement

Read:

[BE] Chapter 7: Their Own Atomic History.

[J] Chapter 1: Escape from Berlin. 

[J] Chapter 2: “Paradise”. [Preview with Google Books]

[J] Chapter 3: The Other Princeton. 

[J] Chapter 4: Witherspoon Street. 

[J] Chapter 5: Einstein and Robeson, I 

[J] Chapter 6: “Wall of Fame”. 

[J] Chapter 7: The Home Front. 

[J] Chapter 8: Civil Rights Activist. 

Dreier, Peter. “Was Albert Einstein a Racist?The American Prospect, June 19, 2018.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. “The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement.” Journal of Social Issues 74, no. 2 (2018): 214–23.

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

Nelson, Alondra. Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination. University Of Minnesota Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780816676491. [Preview with Google Books]

———. The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome. Beacon Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780807027189. [Preview with Google Books]

Gould, Stephen Jay. The Mismeasure of Man. W. W. Norton & Company, 1996. ISBN: 9780393314250. [Preview with Google Books]

7 Vietnam War protests by scientists

Read:

[J] Chapter 9: From World War to Cold War.

[J] Chapter 10: Einstein and Robeson, II

[J] Chapter 11: “My Friend, Doctor Einstein”.

Chomsky, Noah. “A Special Supplement: The Responsibility of Intellectuals.” NY Review of Books, February 23, 1967.

Articles in The Tech: April 14, 1967 (PDF - 5.2MB); March 1, 1968 (PDF - 3.7MB); November 1, 1968 (PDF - 4.4MB); November 8, 1968 (PDF - 5.2MB)

Moore, Kelly. “Confronting Liberalism: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement and the ABM Debate, 1965–1969.” Chapter 5 in Disrupting Science: Social Movements, American Scientists, and the Politics of the Military, 1945–1975. Princeton University Press, 2013, pp. 130–37, and pp. 146–57. ISBN: 9780691162096. [Preview with Google Books]

Articles in The Tech: September 26, 1969 (PDF - 2.6MB); October 3, 1969 (PDF - 2.4MB); October 7, 1969 (PDF - 2.1MB); October 14, 1969 (PDF - 3.1MB); October 21, 1969 (PDF - 3.1MB); November 4, 1969 (PDF - 4.5MB); November 7, 1969 (PDF - 2MB); December 12, 1969 (PDF - 2.3MB); May 5, 1970 (PDF - 2.8MB); May 18, 1971 (Makowski editorials, pp. 3 and 4)(PDF - 2.1MB).

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

[S] Chapter 3: Militarism.

8 The March 4 movement, the founding of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the fate of MIT’s Special Laboratories

Read:

Moore, Kelly. “Confronting Liberalism: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement and the ABM Debate, 1965–1969.” Chapter 5 in Disrupting Science: Social Movements, American Scientists, and the Politics of the Military, 1945–1975. Princeton University Press, 2013, pp. 137–46. ISBN: 9780691162096. [Preview with Google Books]

Founding Document: 1968 MIT Faculty Statement.” Union of Concerned Scientists.

Nelson, Bryce. “M.I.T.’s March 4: Scientists Discuss Renouncing Military Research.” Science 163, no. 3872 (1969): 1175–78.

Articles and letters in The Tech: February 25, 1969 (PDF - 2.4MB); March 7, 1969 (PDF - 2.4MB)

“Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Review Panel on Special Laboratories-Final Report.” (PDF - 6.9MB) October 1969. (Read at least pp. 1–26, and pp. 88–106).

Fate of the Instrumentation Lab—articles in The Tech: May 2, 1969 (PDF - 2MB); January 9, 1970 (PDF - 1.8MB); May 22, 1970 (PDF - 3MB)(Be sure to read the several articles and letters on pp. 4–5).

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

March 4: Scientists, Students, and Society.” MIT Libraries.

9 Concerns about genetic engineering

Read:

[BE] Chapter 8: The Myth of the Criminal Chromosome.

[BE] Chapter 9: It’s the Devil in Your DNA.

[BE] Chapter 10: I’m Not Very Scary Anymore.

[BE] Chapter 11: Story-Telling in Science.

[BE] Chapter 12: Geneticists and the Two Cultures.

Review of the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research Program and Related Activities (1990–1995).” National Human Genome Research Institute. 1996.

Fisher, Erik. “Lessons Learned from the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Program (ELSI): Planning Societal Implications Research for the National Nanotechnology Program.” Technology in Society 27, no. 3 (2005): 321–28.

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

[S] Chapter 2: Disrupting the AAAS.

[S] Chapter 4: Biology and Medicine.

Farber, Steven A. “U.S. Scientists’ Role in the Eugenics Movement (1907–1939): A Contemporary Biologist’s Perspective.” Zebrafish 5, no. 4 (2008): 243–45.

Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Sex /Gender: Biology in a Social World. Routledge, 2012. ISBN: 9780415881463. [Preview with Google Books]

10 The status of women in science

Read:

Hopkins, Nancy. “A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT.” AIP Conference Proceedings 628 (2002): 103–6.

MIT Faculty Newsletter Special Edition: March 1999 (PDF); April/May 2002 (PDF)

Chin, Caroline, and Kamilla Tekiela. “The Status of Undergraduate Women at MIT.” (PDF - 1.1MB) February 2016.

Seron, Carroll, Susan Silbey, Erin Cech, et al. “‘I Am Not a Feminist, but…’: Hegemony of a Meritocratic Ideology and the Limits of Critique Among Women in Engineering.” Work and Occupations 45, no. 2 (2018): 131–67.

View:

Women in Science.” MIT Video Productions.

Nancy Hopkins on Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.” CSH Oral History Collection. 2001.

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

Lederman, Muriel, and Ingrid Bartsch, eds. The Gender and Science Reader. Routledge, 2000. ISBN: 9780415213585. [Preview with Google Books]

11 Intersectional feminism

Read:

[B] Life. [Preview with Google Books]

Prescod-Weinstein, Chanda. “Intersectionality as a Blueprint for Postcolonial Scientific Community Building.” January 24, 2016. Medium.

Roberts, Dorothy, and Sujatha Jesudason. “Movement Intersectionality: The Case of Race, Gender, Disability, and Genetic Technologies.” DuBois Review 10, no. 2 (2013): 313–28.

Optional background for a possible final paper topic:

Prescod-Weinstein, Chanda. “Decolonising Science Reading List.” April 25, 2015. Medium.

12 Student activism at MIT, 1980s to present

Read:

[B] Advocacy.

[BE] Chapter 13: The Scientist and the Quail Farmer.

Context for MIT anti-apartheid activism: “Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement” (PDF - 2.4MB); Articles in The Tech: May 2, 1978 (PDF - 4.2MB); March 1, 1985; April 9, 1985 (PDF - 3.4MB) (Harvard and Columbia protests); April 19, 1985 (PDF - 3.3MB) (letter on p. 6); April 30, 1985 (Tufts and Cornell protests).

Anti-apartheid protests covered by The Tech: June 3, 1985; November 8, 1985 (PDF - 3.7MB); November 15, 1985 (PDF - 5.4MB); January 8, 1986 (PDF - 2.7MB); March 11, 1986 (PDF - 6.4MB).

More articles in The Tech: March 4, 1986 (PDF - 3.4MB); March 15, 1986 (PDF); October 7, 1986 (PDF - 4.7MB); October 21, 1986 (PDF - 4.7MB) (the letter by MIT President Paul Gray); March 6, 1990; April 10, 1990 (PDF - 5.7MB) (long); April 13, 1990 (PDF - 3.2MB) (see the letters).

Still more: April 24, 1990 (PDF - 5.2MB); June 4, 1990; May 4, 1990; September 28, 1990; November 9, 1990; May 2, 1991.

Soule, Sarah A. “The Student Divestment Movement in the United States and Tactical Diffusion: The Shantytown Protest.” Social Forces 75, no. 3 (1997): 855–82.

Auguste, Rasheed. “Reflections of a BSU Co-Chair: A Voyage Toward Diversity and Inclusion at MIT.” July 28, 2016. Medium.

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