re: STEM is a space to discuss the inner workings of the scientific community as well as the global impact of science and technology. However, there are always ways that this space is limited or as I’ll call them, “points of tension,” in which re: STEM and myself are limited in connecting social justice and STEMM.
And why re: STEM exists!
Throughout my academic coursework, my science teachers and professors repeatedly emphasized the importance of the technical side of these disciplines and content expertise. They demonstrated the elegance in how equations can be solved or how formulas can be derived and expanded. And yet in doubling down in technical content expertise, I rarely learned about how the sciences and math impacted the world I lived in on a daily basis. I experienced, whether my teachers intended to or not, the enforcement of social-technical divisions in which STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine) fields divorce themselves from the ways the world and societies are impacted by scientific production. Social justice is crucial for rectifying the power of STEMM in shaping global geo-political and technical landscapes with the responsibility of equitable power distribution.
Why faculty should care about student mental health welfare and how faculty can help.
In the visible and vocal wings of STEMM, communities in academic institutions have strived to and struggled to cope with the growing mental health crisis. Numerous think pieces have contemplated how this crisis is getting worse throughout U.S. graduate schools, often citing how graduate students are six times more likely to experience depression and anxiety when compared to the general public. This epidemic is indiscriminate to age, geographical location, field of study, and degree level, though each combination of variables presents unique challenges to be addressed. Across countless institutions, administrators have held task forces, focus groups, wellness lectures, and presented recommendations to department heads and regents. Meanwhile, students of all degree types have organized in unions, held demonstrations, and commiserate by connecting through articles and memes. But key players with stakes in this mental health crisis are seemingly less loud, often hidden or even missing entirely: what are faculty up to in this epidemic?