This is my first installment of Around the Web Wednesdays. Every week I will gather interesting stories from around the worldwideweb to share with you all (drum roll please)…This week we will explore what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, FASEB, and climate change scientists have in common.
Athlete as Academic Advocate
Uncontent with being just a 6x NBA champion, 6x NBA MVP, and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, he of Game of Death and Airplane! fame, has taken on a new mantle: advocate for STEM education. Earlier this month, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar visited Dr. Martin Luther King Preparatory High School on Chicago’s South Side stressing that there “are only about 450 jobs in the NBA and some of them are taken, but there are thousands of jobs in science and engineering.” The relative invisibility of black/African-American academic role models when compared to black entertainment and sports celebrities was not lost on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who has authored a children’s book titled, What Color is My World: The Lost History of African American Inventors.
Abdul-Jabbar remarked, “If you go to Harlem and talk to the young people there, I would say that over 90 percent of them would either want to be LeBron James or Jay-Z. And they don’t have any idea of what their potential is beyond those two areas (of sports and entertainment). And they see that as the only things available to them.” Being a green-bleeding Celtics fan, I don’t normally heap this much praise on a Laker, but in Kareem’s case he deserves it for both accomplishments on and off the court. Here’s a heartfelt thank you to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
How to be a science advocate
Earlier this month, as many of you know, I attended the annual Drosophila Research Conference in Chicago. In addition to learning about current research in the field, the conference offers a host of workshops that focus on career development and advocacy. Unfortunately, due to timing I missed the Advocacy Lunch hosted by FASEB‘s Director of Legislative Relations, Jennifer Zeitzer. Luckily for me, Eva Amsen covered the lunch on her blog at the Node. The take home message? Any one, regardless of where they are in the science careers, can become an advocate. Points to keep in mind: Be vocal, Have a clear message, Contact politicians and build relationships, & Generate public awareness.
Science advocacy: How far are you willing to go?
Last month, documents surfaced discrediting the Heartland Institute and its anti-global warming stance. Turns out that Peter Gleick, hydrologist and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Oakland, Calif., had assumed a fake identity to get his hands on said documents. In light of this recent revelation, Juliet Eilperin explores the inherent risks associated with the lengths to which scientists will go in the name of advocacy. This quote from Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists just about sums it up, “Integrity is the source of every power and influence we have as scientists. We don’t have the power to make laws, or run the economy.”