Dr. Scott Auerbach, Mahoney Family Sponsored Executive Director of the UMass iCons Program and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at UMass Amherst, gave the 2020 Commonwealth Honors College Plenary Lecture in a pre-recorded lecture made available on September 21, 2020. In his lecture, Dr. Auerbach addressed the question “Is Racism a Science Problem?” and featured guest speaker Roderick Anderson, MA, co-founder and CEO of Elateq, Inc. Dr. Auerbach’s interest in this topic is both old and new. His long-standing interest in the role of human diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) prompted the launch...
in Fall 2010 of the UMass iCons Program, which brings diverse teams of STEM students to work on today’s societal problems.
Auerbach’s recent focus on racism and science was sparked in 2020 by the murder of George Floyd and the militarized responses to Black Lives Matter demonstrations, which triggered the iCons Program’s Statement on Institutional Racism and Dr. Auerbach’s decision to focus the 2020 Plenary Lecture on the nexus of racism and science. According to Auerbach,
“This Plenary Lecture is a special opportunity to launch a personal journey of reflection and activism to fight racism anywhere we can. I hope that putting myself out there in this way sends the message to UMass students that racism is an important topic for each and every person, regardless of what you look like and what you study.”
Auerbach’s present mission, as stated in the Plenary Lecture, is to increase the diversity, equity, and sense of inclusion within the UMass iCons Program by revamping the iCons recruiting, admissions, and instructional practices. The program audit and faculty development required to reach this mission are being performed in collaboration with experts in diversity at UMass Amherst.
For more information on Dr. Auerbach’s Plenary Lecture, please see the Commonwealth Honors College’s recap here.