One of the fun things about preparing for prelims is taking the time to step back and reflect on all I’ve learned over the past four and a half years. One particularly gratifying service learning project that I’ve had the chance to work on while in graduate school was producing a 50-year anniversary video for UW-Madison’s Expanding Your Horizons program that seeks to engage middle school girls in science and technology fields. Its objectives are to:
Increase interest in science through hands-on experience;
Awareness of math and science-related careers; and
Bring young women with “limited opportunities for success” in positive experiences in math, science and technology.
An interview I conducted with Jenell Johnson, Ph.D., is featured in the Winter edition of e-lsc, the Department of Life Sciences Communication’s online alumni newsletter. Johnson is a Faculty Associate in the Department of Communication Arts and Associate Director of the Disability Studies Cluster, who recently joined LSC as its first Honorary Associate Fellow.
She discussed the rhetoric of science, turning a “scientific” lens onto science itself, UW-Madison’s Disability Studies Cluster and the “disability studies perspective,” as well as her two forthcoming books: The Neuroscientific Turn: Trandisciplinarity in the Age of the Brain and Medical Marvel: Lobotomy in American Medicine and Culture. Here’s an excerpt:
e-lsc: One thing that really struck me as interesting about your work is contextualizing science. What do you see as the implications of this?
Jenell Johnson: This is directly related to what a lot of people in LSC study, which is how do non-scientists come to understand science and medicine? I appreciate that people have really started to pay attention to engagements with science that take place in venues that we don’t often consider “legitimate” forms of science education, like AAAS public forums or the science and health sections of the New York Times. I think this is a big pay off from the influence cultural studies has had on the academy. We learn about science from things like postage stamps or through film, through fictionalized things, like comic books. What LSC is doing is bridging that gap.