UC Santa Cruz to present conference on 'Genomics and Justice'

UC Santa Cruz to present conference on 'Genomics and Justice'
UC Santa Cruz to present conference on 'Genomics and Justice'
Monday, April 23, 2007

UC Santa Cruz will present Genomics & Justice: Promises, Perils & Paradoxes--a panel discussion and series of workshops exploring what are appropriate social or political goals to consider in the field of genetics--May 17-18 at the campus's University Center.

The event was conceived by Jennifer Reardon, a UC Santa Cruz assistant professor of sociology who recently established a new Science and Justice Working Group on campus. Her aim is to bring together faculty and graduate students across five academic divisions--physical and biological sciences, engineering, arts, humanities, and social sciences'to better understand the interrelationship between science, technology, and society.

'This conference is designed to bring together people who usually don't have the chance to talk with each other about these issues,' said Reardon. 'It will include scientific researchers, policymakers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and scholars who study the big picture of how we produce knowledge and do research.'

The participants will range from UCSC professor of biomolecular engineering David Haussler--whose research group made vital contributions to the human genome project and continues to conduct pioneering research in genomics; to Vivian Ota Wang--Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Program officer at the National Human Genome Research Institute; to UCSC feminist studies professor Karen Barad, who also has a Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics.

UCSC history of consciousness professor Donna Haraway will serve as moderator for the Thursday panel, which is open to the general public and will run from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Namaste Lounge at College Nine. The Friday workshops, which will take place from 9 to 5 p.m at the University Center, will be more specialized and require registration by contacting reardon1@ucsc.edu.

Reardon noted that participants in the panel discussion would also address the possibility of applying principles of political and social justice to other areas of scientific research in addition to genomics.

'We are basically looking at questions of how to change the practices of institutions that produce knowledge,' said Reardon. 'This meeting will primarily focus on genomics because there have been a lot of government funds involved in looking at the ethical, legal, and social implications of that research based on concerns relating to the Holocaust and eugenics research. But we will also look to see if there are similar challenges and opportunities to advance political and social justice in other areas of research'for example in physics or the social sciences.'

'We're trying to raise a broader awareness of these issues,' added Reardon. 'We want to think broadly about the big picture.'

This event is sponsored by the Science and Justice Working Group, Institute for Humanities Research, Center for Cultural Studies, National Science Foundation, Division of Social Sciences, School of Engineering, Center for Biomolecular Science & Engineering, Sociology Department, Philosophy Department, Feminist Studies, Anthropology Department, Colleges Nine and Ten, and Cowell College.

For more information, contact Jennifer Reardon at (831) 459-1645 or (831) 459-1300.