"Social Justice and Equity: STEM and Beyond”

IE179D, Spring 2015 (1 unit)

Mondays 4:15-5:30pm, Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning 3460 (Skycube)

Instructors:         Dr. Sumun Pendakur (spendakur@hmc.edu)

Dr. Darryl Yong (dyong@hmc.edu)

Description: Despite many efforts over the last few decades to broaden participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, we still find that women, African-American, Hispanic and Latin@, Native American, Southeast Asian individuals are underrepresented in STEM fields in the United States.  Why have we not made more significant progress and what will it take to do so?  In this course, we will use critical theories (including critical race theory, feminism, Marxism, and others) to understand the entangled issues behind this and other persistent inequities.

The purpose of this course is to help fulfill the HMC mission statement more completely by empowering students to be engaged, critical, and civic-minded participants of society who can identify discrimination, reverse underrepresentation, and challenge the status quo in the fields in which they will lead.

Learning objectives: Students who complete this course will

  1. Be able to articulate their personal responsibility and action plan for eliminating injustice and creating more equitable outcomes in STEM fields,
  2. Become familiar and conversant with the literature on critical theories, power, equity, access, discrimination and bias, and how they relate to STEM fields,
  3. Deepen their ability to advocate for and be an ally to others.

All students, regardless of whether they belong to any historically underrepresented groups, are encouraged to join in the discussion.

In addition to reading primary sources and attending talks by special guests, students will be expected to fully participate as members of a community of learners in weekly class meetings.

This class will have a reasonable out-of-class homework requirement that will be commensurate with a one-unit course.


Grades: Your grade in IE179D will depend on your active participation in class and timely completion of assignments.

Your participation grade will be largely self-assessed based on the following rubric.

Participation Rubric:

Exemplary (4)

  • Listens actively. Pays attention to who is talking, who is silent or being silenced. Invites others to participate.
  • Uses readings and research as evidence in discussion, referring to specific sections of the texts when appropriate.
  • Adds to the conversation by building on what others say.
  • Arrives on time, stays for the entire duration.

Good (3)

  • Engages in the conversation, but doesn’t always stay on topic that others are trying to engage in.
  • Uses readings and research as evidence in discussion, but never referring to specific sections of the texts.
  • Arrived late or had to leave early (without first clearing it with one of the instructors or discussion leaders).

Lacking (2)

  • Loses focus during the conversation or does not follow the flow of the conversation well.
  • Is off-task during part of the conversation.
  • Is unprepared for class by not having read source materials or completed assignments.

Poor (1)

  • Interrupts others, or talks too much during the conversation.
  • Silences others, or makes disrespectful statements without any apologies.
  • Makes statements that are untrue or based on opinion only.

Absent (0)