UW-Madison Launches Project to Advance Anti-racism in STEM and Medicine

By  - 
University of Wisconsin-Madison logo

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) recently launched a multi-year project to advance anti-racism practices and pedagogy in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM). The Humanities Education for Anti-racism Literacy (HEAL) in the Sciences and Medicine project is funded through a $5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

HEAL unites tribal partners, students, community members, and faculty from a variety of disciplines.— including African American studies, environmental affairs, science history and more.— to increase awareness regarding histories of racism in scientific disciplines and academia, as well as to improve diverse representation in these fields. Elizabeth Hennessy, the HEAL project lead and a UW-Madison professor of science history, says the 2020 resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement was a spark for her and her colleagues to address racial inequities in science and higher education. 

HEAL will be implemented in different phases over the course of three years. Year one will focus on collecting information and oral histories about the lived experiences of Black and Native American students. In the second year of the project, the HEAL team will use the data collected in phase one to develop humanities-based, culturally appropriate curricula and courses on the histories of systemic racism for students and educators. Year three will see the implementation and dissemination of these curricula and other educational resources through teacher training, workshops, and more. 

Paul Robbins, dean of the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, stated in a press release that the HEAL project represents “the culmination of a great deal of work and foment [sic] amongst scholars dedicated to and concerned about the critical problem and history of non-inclusive STEM scholarship and STEM academic communities.” 

Funding for the project comes from the Mellon Foundation’s Just Futures initiative, which was established in August 2020 to support multidisciplinary efforts to promote racial justice and social equality.