Learning in Crisis: Training Students to Monitor and Address Irresponsible Knowledge Construction by US Federal Agencies under Trump
Immediately after President Trump’s inauguration, US federal science agencies began deleting information about climate change from their websites, triggering alarm among scientists, environmental activists, and journalists about the administration’s attempt to suppress information about climate change and promulgate climate denialism. The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) was founded in late 2016 to build a multidisciplinary collaboration of scholars and volunteers who could monitor the Trump administration’s dismantling of environmental regulations and science deemed harmful to its industrial and ideological interests. One of EDGI’s main initiatives has been training activists and volunteers to monitor federal agency websites to identify how the climate-denialist ideology is affecting public debate and science policy. In this paper, we explain how EDGI’s web-monitoring protocols are being incorporated into college curricula and how, in this way, EDGI’s work aligns with STS work on “critical making” and “making and doing.” EDGI’s work shows how STS scholars can establish new modes of engagement with the state that demand a more transparent and trustworthy relationship with the public, creating spaces where the public can define and demand responsible knowledge practices and participate in the process of creating STS inspired forms of careful, collective, and public knowledge construction.
Braun, L. 2014. Breathing Race into the Machine: The Surprising Career of the Spirometer from Plantation to Genetics. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Braun, S., K. Breseman, L. Frederickson, G. Gehrke, S. Knutson, M. Murphy, K. Nguyen, C. Sellers, N. Shapiro, K. Shea, M. Sullivan, A. Sundar, S. A. Wylie, and the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. 2019. Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. April 8. Accessed 23 May 2019. https://envirodatagov.org/publication/edgi-annual-report-2019/
Carter, Jacob, G. Goldman, G. Reed, P. Hansel, M. Halpern, and A. Rosenberg. 2017. “Sidelining Science Since Day One: How the Trump Administration Has Harmed Public Health and Safety in Its First Six Months.” Center for Science and Democracy.
Dencik, Lina, A. Hintz, and J. Cable. 2016. “Towards data justice? The ambiguity of anti-surveillance resistance in political activism.” Big Data & Society July–December 2016: 1–12
Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. 2019. “About - EDGI.” Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. Accessed 21 May 2019. https://envirodatagov.org/about/
Foucault, M. 1995. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Random House, Inc.
Haraway, Donna. 1988. “Situated knowledges: the science question in feminism and the privilege of the partial perspective.” Feminist Studies 14(3): 575-99.
Haraway, D. 2003. The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, LLC.
Kenny, Catherine, M. Liboiron, and S. A. Wylie. 2019. “Seeing power with a flashlight: DIY thermal sensing technology in the classroom.” Social Studies of Science 49(1): 3-28.
Kimura, Aya H., and A. Kinchy. 2016. “Citizen Science: Probing the Virtues and Contexts of Participatory Research.” Engaging Science, Technology, and Society (2): 331-61.
Knutson, S., M. Beck, S. Braun, R. Cha, L. Dillon, G. Gehrke, R. Lave, M. Murphy, M. Price, T. Rinberg, S. Rubinow, C. Sellers, N. Shapiro, K. Shea, L. Vera, D. Walker, S. A. Wylie, and the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. 2018. “EDGI Annual Report 2018.” Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. March 1. Accessed 23 May 2019. https://envirodatagov.org/publication/edgi-annual-report-2018/
Latour, Bruno. 2004. “Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern.” Critical Inquiry 30(2): 225–48.
Lee Downey, Gary, and T. Zuiderent-Jerak. 2017. “Making and doing: engagement and reflexive learning in STS.” In Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, edited by U. Felt, R. Fouché, C. A. Miller, and L. Smith-Doerr. 223-51. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Murphy, M. 2017. The Economization of Life. Durham: Duke University Press.
Nost, E., G. Gehrke, and the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative Website Monitoring Team. 2018. “EPA Discontinues Updates to Climate Change Websites.” Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. October 31. Accessed 21 May 2019. https://envirodatagov.org/aar-9-epa-discontinues-updates-to-climate-change-websites/
Oreskes, N. and E. Conway. 2010. Merchants of Doubt. New York: Bloomsbury Press.
Puig de la Bellacasa, Maria. 2012. “‘Nothing comes without its world’: Thinking with care.” The Sociological Review 60: 197-216.
Ratto, Matt, S. A. Wylie, and K. Jalbert. 2014. “Introduction to the Special Forum on Critical Making as a Research Program.” The Information Society: An International Journal 30(2): 85-95.
Rinberg, T., M. Anjur-Dietrich, M. Beck, A. Bergman, J.
Derry, L. Dillon, G. Gehrke, R. Lave, C. Sellers, N. Shapiro, A. Aizman, D. Allan, M. Britt, R. Cha, J. Chadha, M. Currie,
S. Johns, A. Klionsky, S. Knutson, K. Kulik, A. Lemelin, K. Nguyen, E. Nost, K. Ouellette, L. Poirier, S. Rubinow, J. Schell, L. Ultee, J. Upfal, T. Wedrosky, J. Wylie, and EDGI. 2018. “The First 100 Days and Counting: Changing the Digital Climate.” Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. January. Accessed 21 May 2019. http://100days.envirodatagov.org/changing-digital-climate/
Smith, L. T. 2012. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books Ltd.
Taylor, Linnet. 2017. “What is data justice? The case for connecting digital rights and freedoms globally.” Big Data & Society July-December 2017: 1–14
Tuck, Eve. 2009. “Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities.” Harvard Educational Review 79 (3): 409-27.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2017. “EPA Kicks Off Website Updates.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. April 28. Accessed 25 April 2019. https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-kicks-website-updates
Vaidhyanathan, S. 2011. The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Vera, Lourdes A., L. Dillon, S. A. Wylie, J. L. Ohayon, A. Lemelin, P. Brown, C. Sellers, D. Walker, and the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. 2018. “Data Resistance: A Social Movement Organizational Autoethnography of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly 23 (4):511–529.
WCBN. 2018. “Knowing Climate Change: A Student Panel on Accountability and Accessibility.” It’s Hot in Here: Environmental News, Views, and Stone Cold Grooves, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor, MI.
Copyright (c) 2020 Chris Tirrell, Laura Senier, Sara Ann Wylie, Cole Alder, Grace Poudrier, Jesse DiValli, Marcy Beck, Eric Nost, Rob Brackett, Gretchen Gehrke
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors of all content published in ESTS retain the copyright to their work, and agree to license them under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license. Please read our open access policy for more information.