Friday Reading List. 20/01/2022.

Two categories this entry:

  1. Modes of questioning EDI-related policy, programmes, initiatives, and discourse. (Today: Diplomacy and Satire)
  2. EDI in Science. (Today: A spotlight on one cluster of EDI activity)

MODES OF QUESTIONING EDI-RELATED POLICY, PROGRAMMES, INITIATIVES, AND DISCOURSE.

In my About post at the outset of this blog, I said, “I worry about the possible n-th order negative consequences of the rapid, ubiquitous, and uncritical adoption of EDI policies and programs in general, and in Canadian universities in particular. Worse, I worry that these policies and programs, i.e. their architects and employees, have made critical analyses nigh impossible. E.g. to do so is to reveal your bigotry.”

However, nigh-impossible is not impossible. Here are two examples of very different approaches to critical analyses of EDI-related things — policy, programmes, initiatives, and discourse— which may allay at least some of my worry.

The first approach employs diplomacy, the second, satire.

[1]Diplomacy.

Shawn Whatley. “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion — Is EDI Unquestionable?,”Shawn Whatley, MD: challenging accepted thinking | offering solutions, July 23, 2021, (link embedded below), accessed January 20, 2023.

Instead of directly questioning EDI, Whatley appears to ask a meta-question: Is EDI unquestionable? But there’s a little ambiguity at play here. In one sense, unquestionable means something akin to impermissible (ought-not). In another sense, unquestionable means without doubt (is). Of course both senses might be true here, as in one must take EDI-related claims as fact (without doubt) and not question them (ought-not). In this nuanced yet succinct article, Whatley appears to have both senses in mind and brings each to the fore: “Questioning accepted opinion is rarely safe, always risky. Questions often make things better—science rests on this assumption.”

To whit, “questioning accepted opinion is rarely safe, always risky” for both the questioner and the questioned. Disconfirming a claim that an advocate holds as fact might undermine her project, perhaps her career. And any attempt to confirm or disconfirm her claim might undermine the analyser’s career.

In the comment section, Whatley reveals himself a diplomat.

On July 25th, 2021 at 1:06 pm, Stephanie writes: “Hmm. A middle-aged able, cis, white male questioning the benefit of equality and EDI. Huh, never seen that before.”

Whatley replies: “Hello Stephanie, Thanks so much for this. Since your comment is directed at me and not at the argument, I’ll simply let it stand without response either way. Others might comment on it. If you ever want to engage on the topic or the content of the argument presented in the post, I’d love to hear from you again! Be well, Shawn.”

And included in his reply to some friendly criticism from Darren Andrew Larson, July 26, 2021 at 9:24 am, Whatley says, “Thanks again for posting! I love the pushback and willingness to help me see where my argument is weakest.”

Continuing his exchange with Larson, July 26, 2021 at 6:58 pm, Whatley says, “Please keep pushing back. Seriously. It helps me, AND it helps to remind/show others who drop by that it’s okay to disagree on ideas and still maintain relationship. Thanks for making me smile! (and think).”

Whatley and Larson are onto something that seems to have been lost in Woke-tainted exchanges, the spirit of combative camaraderie that brings sportsmanship and a bit of playfulness to the serious pursuit of matters of fact and of answers to moral conundrums. Each can walk away with a handshake.

[2]Satire.

The Babbling Beaver: Fake News You Can Trust From Transgressive Nerds at MIT. “About Us,” https://babblingbeaver.com/about/, accessed January 20, 2023.

The Babbling Beaver irregularly publishes satirical samizdat anonymously contributed by loyal alumni, faculty, staff, and students of MIT who are distressed by the Wokeness takeover of our beloved ‘Tute. Strongly believing that no rigidly intolerant ideology merits exemption from scrutiny and debate, the Beaver is committed to speaking parody to power. We hope our anti-authoritarian humor emboldens those afraid to speak their minds, reviving the rebellious hacker spirit that made our university unique.  Tremble not in these troubled Twitter times, for as Mark Twain once said, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.

So, seize the opportunity to enjoy a mischievous chuckle, sign up to receive our biting missives by email, and if the muse moves you consider contributing some over-the-top fake stories of your own. Help shine the spotlight of mockery on the people and practices inflicting Woke extremism on the world’s premier STEM institution. Submissions chosen by our scrupulously fair and balanced editors applying community standards so transparent you can’t see them will only be accepted under assumed names, as even many of our brilliant tenured professors are afraid to swim against the cultural riptide. The Babbling Beaver is published under a Creative Commons License. We encourage refuseniks at other universities to plagiarize our issues, steal our jokes, and publish satirical samizdat of their own. Don’t ask anyone for permission, just go ahead and put an eye patch on your college mascot, hoist the Jolly Roger of free speech absolutism, and launch your own satire webzine. Join the revolution to take back our minds and liberate our campuses, with an ironic nod to Saul Alinsky’s Rule #5 and a joyous, bellowing … Aargh!

The Babbling Martlet: Fake News and Opinion, McGill University, November 19-27, 2022, https://babblingmartlet.com, accessed January 20, 2023.

Anonymous Babbler, “The Academic Equity Song,” The Babbling Martlet, Nov 27, 2022, https://babblingmartlet.com/2022/11/27/the-academic-equity-song/, accessed January 20, 2023.

  • A catchy little ditty with a Vaudevillian vibe.

EDI IN SCIENCE

Today: A spotlight on one cluster of EDI activity.

uOttawa. “Implementing equity, diversity, and inclusiveness (EDI) in Canadian science policy: What have we learnt so far? What is the path forward?” a collaboration between: uOttawa’s Institute for Science, Society & Policy (ISSP), the Institute on Governance (IOG), and the Science & Policy Exchange (SPE), Virtual Panel, Nov 3, 2022, https://www.uottawa.ca/about-us/issp/events/implementing-edi-canadian-science-policy, accessed January 14, 2023.

  • I don’t see that this conference was recorded.
  • You’ll find bio sketches for each of the following five panelists on this announcement page:
    • Dr. Monica Gattinger, “Director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, Full Professor at the School of Political Studies and Founder/Chair of Positive Energy at the University of Ottawa”;  
    • Maxime Lê, “founder and principal consultant of Lê & Co. Consultants – a bilingual health and science communications consulting firm”;
    • Denise Amyot, “President and CEO – Colleges and Institutes Canada, Board member, CSPC”;
    • Paalini Sathiyaseelan, PhD, “Research Collaborator at Genome Sciences Centre (GSC), BC and “co-founder of SP.HERE Society”;
    • Chelsie Johnson, “Health Emergency Specialist” and “Member, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council; Executive, Board of Directors – TAIBU Community Health Centre”;
    • Rhonda Moore, “Senior Practice Lead in Science and Innovation, at the Institute of Governance.”

  • Of note: “At the end of 2021, Paalini [Sathiyaseelan], along with two other science policy enthusiasts, founded SP.HERE (Science Policy in Health, Environment, Research & Ethics) Society in Vancouver, BC. Using SP.HERE, Paalini is determined to create an EDI-centred society.” Bibliographer’s comments: There’s some ambiguity here with the word society. Does “society” mean an organisation as in the ‘SP.HERE Society’, or have Sathiyaseelan and her colleagues set their aspirations higher as in ‘the broader society’? If they’ve already founded an EDI-centered ‘Society’ as in the first sense, then Sathiyaseelan’s determination seems redundant. The deed is done. In the second sense of society, her stated determination is rhetoric. In either sense, perhaps the SP.HERE founders have found themselves a tad overwhelmed with the project since it doesn’t seem to have progressed over the course of a year:
  • SP.HERE. Science Policy in Health, Environment, Research and Ethics, https://www.sp-heresociety.com, accessed January 14, 2023.
    • “Our vision for SP.HERE is to be a reliable platform for our community to be part of the change towards an equitable, diversified, and inclusive society through science policy.”
    • It appears that SP.HERE hasn’t taken off. Hence, it’s not yet “reliable”. The content of the site is comprised of a home page and one article.
    • The SP.HERE Instagram account has only a small collection of posters: https://www.sp-heresociety.com
    • Not much more on Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/society_sphere

Science & Policy Exchange (SPE). “About,” https://www.sp-exchange.ca/mission-statement, accessed January 14, 2023.

  • One of the collaborators in the uOttawa conference is the SPE, a student-led initiative.
  • Below is the SPE Mission Statement, followed by one of the SPE’s EDI initiatives:

Mission Statement: Science & Policy Exchange (SPE) is a Montreal-based, non-profit organization with two key aims:

1.To foster the voice of students and early-career researchers in evidence-based decision making.

2. To bring together leading experts from academia, industry, and government to engage and inform students and the public on issues at the interface of science and policy. 

SPE is one of the few bilingual student-founded initiatives directly engaging local political scenes and effectively bridging the gap between academia, industry, and government leaders.

  • EDI in Action: Best Practices and Future Directions, Science & Policy Exchange, Montreal, Canada. April 21, 2022. https://www.sp-exchange.ca/reports, accessed January 20, 2023.
    • Report Contributors: Emma Anderson, Michael Belluci, Arnaud Cheuk, Meghomita Das, Kaitlyn Easson, Alizée Gouronnec, Teresa Joseph, Catherine Landry, Paul MacKeigan, Atinuke Olajide, Sonja Soo, Anh-Khoi Trinh.
    • This report, available as a download in PDF format, is a summary of recommendations from the panelists of an SPE workshop on EDI. https://www.spexchange.ca/_files/ugd/7fd26f_0c146253f2914eb7a1429b114b774c65.pdf
    • Re: Recommendations from the Student Panel: “Acknowledge EDI as a duty: EDI discussions should be reframed as a societal duty rather than an afterthought. (p8)” [Comment from this bibliographer: I’ll be watching the student panel section of the video to see if any panelists give reasons for why EDI ought to be acknowledged as a “(societal) duty”. E.g. On their view, is EDI a moral or a legal duty?]
    • Re: Recommendations from the Student Panel: “Provide mandatory EDI training: Students should undertake mandatory EDI training similar to sexual harassment training. (p8)” [A couple of comments from this bibliographer: 1) An interesting phenomenon I’ve noted in my research on EDI is that it’s often students who call for mandatory EDI training for their student peers (sometimes quite zealously). I wonder how so-mandated students feel about attending classes with their young commissar peers? 2) “Provide” seems the wrong word here. It’s an odd thing to provide mandatory training, as if it’s something one can take or leave (although I suppose one can leave if she doesn’t want to be a student). What is being asked, of whichever powers that be, is to mandate EDI training.]

The workshop was recorded and is publicly available on YouTube. The recording is about 3 1/2 hours long, and I’ve only skimmed through it. The workshop is divided into the following sections: Opening Remarks (0-14:55); NSERC Dimensions Presentation (to 1:08:36); EDI Practitioner Panel (to 2:20:13); Student Panel (to 3:23:10); and, Closing Remarks (to 3:27:44).

EDI in Action: Best Practices and Future Directions, Science & Policy Exchange, YouTube, Sept 22, 2021, accessed January 20, 2023.

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