Learning in Crisis: Training Students to Monitor and Address Irresponsible Knowledge Construction by US Federal Agencies under Trump

Chris Tirrell, Laura Senier, Sara Ann Wylie, Cole Alder, Grace Poudrier, Jesse DiValli, Marcy Beck, Eric Nost, Rob Brackett, Gretchen Gehrke


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.


critical making; making and doing; data justice; knowledge production; climate denial

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17351/ests2020.313

Copyright (c) 2020 Chris Tirrell, Laura Senier, Sara Ann Wylie, Cole Alder, Grace Poudrier, Jesse DiValli, Marcy Beck, Eric Nost, Rob Brackett, Gretchen Gehrke

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