Upcoming Meetings and Events

Next Meeting of Western Mass SftP: Monday, February 26, 10:00 a.m. Room TBD, UMass. We will: 1)continue brainstorming models for “pop-up science shops” linking scientists with community organizations; 2) attempt to finalize the “survey” on science for and against the people; 3) continue to work on the production of video dialogues and on-line discussions on science and social responsibility; 4) other ideas? Please bring them!

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Previous Meetings and Events

Monday, February 12, 10:00 a.m. in Herter 601. We made a breakthrough with what we’ve been calling “the survey.” We’re going to split it up into two pieces. 1) The first will be a straight-forward effort to reach out to people throughout Western Mass to gather local examples of “science for the people” and “science against the people.” We define the former as STEM work explicitly committed to solving problems of social, political, economic, and/or environmental injustice, and we especially want to highlight examples where scientists and scholars have worked in collaborative partnership with community-based organizations. We define the latter STEM work that contributes to problems of social, political, economic, and/or environmental injustice. We are especially concerned about examples where scientists and scholars have received funding from corporate or military sources that influenced the trajectory of the research. Sigrid has committed to bringing a draft to the next meeting that we hope can be tweaked and finalized for distribution. 2) The second will be a more dynamic discussion of the ethical and political “scenarios” that we have been drafting and discussing in meetings. We plan to engage these questions by creating videos of faculty engaging in critical dialogue that can then serve as a springboard for online discussion. We are using the time between now and 2/26 to brainstorm ideas for this. If you are a faculty member willing to engage in a video dialogue, or if you have an idea as to who would be good for this, please let us know. Thank you!

Monday, February 5, 10:00 a.m. in Herter 601. We talked about the SftP National Convention that happened the previous weekend and discussed the “scenarios” that people drafted for possible inclusion in our survey about science for and against the people.

Monday, January 29, 9:00 a.m. in Herter 601. We discussed Lola Fatunmbi’s poem, “Bad Science,” originally published in the GWIS Quarterly Magazine, our ongoing efforts to create a survey about science for and against the people, and a new idea to create “pop-up science shops” to help scientists connect with community organizations.

Monday, December 11, 9:00 a.m. in Herter 601. We discussed the upcoming national convention and revisited the idea of conducting a survey on the social responsibility of scientists and local examples of science for and against the people.

Monday, November 27th, 9:00 a.m. in Herter 601. We discussed Sophie Wang’s wonderful comic “Science Under the Scope” and talked about the plans for a national Science for the People convention in Ann Arbor, Michigan the first weekend of February.

Monday, October 23rd, 9:00 a.m. in Herter 601 (UMass campus). In preparation for Jonathan King’s visit (see below), we discussed this article in The Nation by Richard Krushnic and Jonathan Alan King: “Meet the Private Corporations Building Our Nuclear Arsenal”. As always, please come to the meeting whether or not you are able to complete the reading!

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Invest in Minds not Missiles: Resisting the Trillion-Dollar Nuclear Weapons Escalation

A lecture by MIT biologist and Science for the People member Jonathan King

Wednesday, October 25, 4:00 p.m., Gordon Hall 303, UMass Amherst

Sponsored by Western Mass Science for the People and the UMass Political Economy Research Institute


The growth of higher education and university-based scientific research in the U.S. after WWII has been critically dependent on federal investments, voted annually as part of the congressional discretionary budget. In recent years more than 55% of this budget—our income taxes—has been spent on war and weapon purchase accounts. Recently President Trump proposed more cuts in key programs supporting education and research—including NIH, NSF, EPA, and NOAA—in order to fund a $54 billion increase (~10%) in military spending. This will bring the fraction of our tax dollars spent on preparation for war to more than 60% of the total congressional budget. Many of the weapons programs—such as the proposed trillion-dollar nuclear weapons “modernization”—are provocative and destabilizing, more likely to decrease national security than increase it. The excessive costs will greatly weaken programs addressing social needs. Defending higher education and basic research will require explicitly resisting the diversion of our tax dollars to military accounts.

Speaker Biography:
Jonathan Alan King is a professor of molecular biology at MIT, where he has long taught biochemistry and directed biomedical research on protein misfolding and human disease <http://web.mit.edu/king-lab>. King is a past president of the national Biophysical Society, a former Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Jane Coffin Childs Fund Fellow, and Guggenheim Fellow, and a recipient of the NIH MERIT Award. Long involved in issues of science and society, Prof. King was a member of the original Science for the People. He served for many years on the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology’s national committee addressing the federal R& D budget, as well as the national Joint Committee on Biomedical Research. He was also a leader of the national campaign of biomedical scientists to press the Senate to ratify the Biological Weapons Convention and helped organize a successful campaign against anthrax research at UMass Amherst. King currently serves on the Board of Massachusetts Peace Action and chairs its Nuclear Disarmament Working Group. He is also active in the national People’s Budget Coalition that supports the Congressional Progressive Caucus on federal budget priorities.

Co-sponsors:
Massachusetts Society of Professors, Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts, UMass History Department, UMass Social Thought & Political Economy Program, UMass Resistance Studies Initiative, Northampton Committee to Stop the Wars, Resistance Center for Peace and Justice