Who’s Lobbying now? Science & the New Parliament

Apparently the election in England has cost science 15 science-savy members of parliament.  The latest issue of Nature (Volume 465 Number 7295 pp135) appeals to researchers to get involved with educating the new parliament.  

 Non-partisan organizations such as the Campaign for Science and Engineering in the UK (CaSE) and the Royal Society are well placed to make a broad appeal to the new parliament.In the run-up to the election, CaSE encouraged all parties to make their positions on science known, and in its aftermath the organization must work to inform a new government’s science policies. The Royal Society, meanwhile, has a long-running programme matching scientists with MPs that could be particularly useful in educating new politicians. That programme should be put into high gear while the society considers other ways to engage parliament. Other scientific societies should rally their memberships to get the word out to new parliamentarians about the value of science. A well orchestrated, non-partisan appeal early in the life of the parliament could leave a lasting impression.

And an early and enduring impression may be crucial to preserving Britain’s scientific enterprise. Faced with a soaring budget deficit, whoever forms the new government will have to impose deep cuts on public spending. Unless researchers act swiftly, science could end up at the front of the firing line.

Recent proposed cuts in philosophy in the UK are very scary.  One can get the sense that philosophy is already at the front of the firing line.

Is there a comparable effort on behalf of humanities education?  Should there be?  To parliament or elsewhere?  What do you think?

Is being an Arab and a feminist a contradiction?

It never crossed my mind to ask that, but here are a few answers, and of course it is not a contradiction.

(via @nmoawad)

This video was taken at the launch of the Young Arab Feminist Network that took place from April 29 to May 2, 2010. Here is an interesting article on it.

This is from the YAFN site:

We recognize that Arab young women face particular challenges and experiences of sexism. We also recognize the fragmentation and elitism of women’s rights work in Arab societies. The group of us believes that an organized support network uniting young women activists working on an array of issues concerning women rights and coming from various perspectives and backgrounds is the perfect way to push women’s rights organizing forward in the region.

Being beyond their age range myself, I was wondering about why there would be such a focus on young (they say “18 – early 30s”): I wondered whether there was some agism at play. They have a plausible answer for that. What I understand from the article is that one of the problems young arab feminists face is the connection with established feminist networks, that appear to suffer from the same kind of partriarchical structures that affects the rest of the society. They say:

Although we do believe that patriarchy affects everyone, we are a young women only network. This is because we believe that young women deal with specific issues and as a result have particular needs. We aim to provide the space for these issues to be untangled and have open conversations without worrying about navigating gender and age dynamics.

I hope they will not only manage to establish a better understanding with their previous generations, but also with those outside the Arab world: it would be mutually beneficial. I am looking forward to hearing of their successes.

Fascinating bit of philosophical history

From Leiter:

From Robert Paul Wolff’s memoirs; he was prompted to act by the naked sex discrimination his first wife, an English professor, confronted:

On September 17, 1969 I sent a letter to eleven senior members of the philosophy profession, asking them to serve as co-signers with me on a motion to be presented to the annual meeting of the Eastern Division of the APA, calling for the establishment of a Standing Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession. Alice Ambrose and Morris Lazerowitz [who were husband and wife] came on board, as did Justus Buchler [whose wife taught philosophy], and Sue Larson and Mary Mothersill, both of Barnard. Maurice Mandelbaum, who along with Lewis White Beck had read my Kant manuscript for Harvard, was sympathetic, but pointed out that as the incoming APA president, if he signed he would be in the position of petitioning himself. A good point. The great Classicist Gregory Vlastos also said yes, as did Ruth Marcus, whom I knew from my Chicago days, when she was at Northwestern. Morty White was supportive, but declined to sign for fear that if the motion passed, he would be expected to serve on the committee, something he said he could not do because of writing obligations. That left Jack Rawls, who declined to sign. In retrospect, this does not surprise me. Although Jack was on his way to becoming the world’s leading expert on justice, he never seemed to be there when action was needed.