CEPP Public Presentation and Panel Discussion
Silenced Voices, Whose Stories Do Experts Count? Lessons from Affected Communities at the Intersection of Science, Public Policy, and Environmental Health
Recently, when students in a graduate engineering ethics class were asked what types of “stories” their education trains them to listen to they came up with three answers: rules, regulations, and the knowledge of their professors. No one mentioned perspectives of communities affected by the decisions, research, products, or actions of scientists and engineers. This presentation will be delivered by a professor, a community organizer, and two affected community leaders who have partnered to teach engineers and scientists the technical and ethical value of silenced knowledges. Drawing from their extensive work on highly publicized cases of environmental contamination in Washington, DC and Tonawanda, NY respectively, the presenters will discuss how conventional education and practice in engineering and science results in systematic erasure of important perspectives that can lead to flawed research and harmful public policy. The presentation outlines a pedagogy for listening to “stories” that remain untold in the fields of engineering, science, and public policy. It will suggest that learning to listen to silenced voices can shift conventional expert-community relationships of inequality and distrust into partnerships that generate meaningful research and health-protective public policies.