News

Student Community Psychologists in Action

A few weeks ago, we heard about Dr. Carlie Trott’s research in community psychology. As a community psychologist, Dr. Trott uses community-based and participatory-action research to engage marginalized groups in science and empower communities, especially students, to solve environmental issues.  During the spring semester, she taught from her experiences in PSYC 7006, Community Engaged Research, at the University of Cincinnati. She led students in discussions related to community partnerships, data collection and analysis, and other best practices, and facilitated an environment that allowed students to plan their own research. This week, we were able to highlight some of those projects.  

Representing Cincinnati Immigrants and Refugees

Christine spent the semester developing the research plan for her master’s thesis. She is passionate about providing immigrants and refugees with better representation. She plans to evaluate CARE’s Cincinnati Refugee and Immigrant Civic Leadership Program, which is designed to engage these groups in civic work beyond voting. These people are often underrepresented, Christine said, despite the important role that they play in their community. She plans to evaluate this program by asking the people that it is designed to serve about how helpful it has been to them and if it has empowered them and given them a voice beyond voting.  

Unions for Migrant Workers

Hayden also spent the semester planning for coming research, including working to find a community partner. Like Christine’s work, Hayden hopes to assess how well underrepresented people are being given a voice in their communities. However, his interests lie in ensuring that migrant workers, including those who are undocumented, are represented by labor unions. He hopes that by giving them this voice, it will prevent existing problems such as differences in pay and dangerous working conditions, and give them a way to speak up without fearing for their jobs. For reasons that his research will seek to understand, migrant workers are often not involved in unions, resulting in a lack of data about how unions could potentially empower these people. 

Youth Climate Justice

Emmanuel’s questions are more focused on the successes and challenges of youth climate justice. Increasingly, young people are using various strategies to make their voices heard despite their lack of political representation. Yet the choices made about climate now will impact their futures. Very limited research has been done on the challenges these youth face, and on the growing movement in general. However, they experience burn out and a lack of support, and they often have the dual burden of caring for themselves and advocating for changes in climate policy. Emmanuel will be asking youth advocates about how they define their own successes and how they deal with the challenges they face. 

We look forward to seeing the progression of these student’s work in psychology, as well as future students who come through Dr. Trott’s class! 

Vaccine Hesitancy: Did You Miss It?

The COVID-19 vaccine is available! But why is the supply of doses catching up with demand of those who want it? Who is turning it down, and what led to many people pausing before getting it? 

Recently we hosted Dr. Maya J. Goldenberg in partnership with the Mercantile Library to talk about her new book Vaccine Hesitancy: Public Trust, Expertise, and the War on Science and answer questions about the public’s perception of science. Dr. Goldenberg advocates for changing how we approach questions and doubts about vaccination by viewing them as a “crisis of trust” rather than a “war on science,” and stresses the need to rebuild the science-public relationship. She argues that “re-centering” scientists in this relationship can begin to restore public trust. 

Leading up to this event, Dr. Goldenberg also discussed public mistrust in medicine as a part of WKRC’s coverage of hesitancy surrounding the current distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, and WVXU spoke with her about her book and reframing vaccine hesitancy.  

Did you catch this interview, and other local coverage leading up to it? If you missed the interview hosted by the Mercantile Library, it is now available online here, and her book is available here

Vaccine Hesitancy with Dr. Maya J. Goldenberg

Did you miss Dr. Goldenberg’s talk about her research and book on vaccine hesitancy this week? You can still hear it here, hosted by the Mercantile Library.

Dr. Goldenberg stressed the ways that doctors and scientists can change their language, listen to and address concerns, and consider the wide variety of reasons that individuals may feel uncertain about vaccines. You can also learn more about her work in her book Vaccine Hesitancy: Public Trust, Expertise, and the War on Science.

Raising the Conversation: The Mercantile Library

While today the Mercantile Library engages the public in science and philosophy, its founders’ original intention in creating it was a desire to learn and not having access to the resources to do so. In 1835, self-made merchants pieced together the library at a time when higher education and books were luxuries only the wealthy could generally afford. Books were expensive, public libraries were uncommon until the late 1870s, and getting news from other parts of the country took a concentrated effort. Despite two fires and multiple challenges throughout the years, the Library has remained a quiet, beautiful place while reaching an increasingly wider audience. The Mercantile Library’s Director John Faherty and UC historian Dr. David Stradling explained how the Mercantile Library came to be for this weeks #FlashbackFriday, and how it is being reimagined with that story in mind.

The Library’s Foundation

The merchants who founded the Mercantile Library were a “new” social class of self-made businessmen. Many people at the time were literate, but books were an expensive luxury. The group made the decision that they “would be smarter together.” They created an intellectual wing of the business community for self-betterment as well as amassing practical knowledge related to their work. Being in Cincinnati, they served as an intellectual center for merchants, bringing together information from all over the country. The Library also played a key role in a city where much of the economy was driven by merchants. They pooled their resources into a library that, at the time, was solely for them and their guests. For the first 60 years, it was housed in Cincinnati College, a law school that would ultimately be absorbed by the University of Cincinnati. Later, the building was shared with the Chamber of Commerce, which also served local merchants.

While 4 th street has remained largely out of reach of floods in the city, the Mercantile Library’s building burned twice in the first ten years of its existence. The catastrophic fires led to an opportunity. Most of the books were saved by neighboring members, although firefighting resources then were not adequate to save most of the building. After the second fire, the members raised $10,000 for a 10,000-year renewable lease that put the responsibility of the building’s care on the owners and would prove unbreakable through the years. This lease has given them the freedom – and left resources available – to address a wide variety of difficult issues and take risks.

A Changing Audience

One crucial change in the Library’s history has been its audience. In response to budget needs, early members were encouraged to invite their neighbors to join the library, and with an increasing German immigrant population, efforts were made to include more German newspapers. Other changes were slower. Although the first female members could join in 1859, welcomed with a time set aside for them alone to use the space, and several female librarians were hired early on, a woman would not be elected board president until the 1980s. Additionally, the first Black member, Peter H. Clark, was not allowed to join until 1872. He was a school principal who was an advocate for desegregation of the schools. Even after he joined, it was made clear that this was “not to be a precedent,” and the Mercantile Library would not have a Black president until the 2000s. Neither women nor persons of color could vote initially.

As public libraries became more widely available and membership fell off in response to war, economic hardship, struggles with adequate visitor parking, and the organization’s seemingly increasing “obsolescence” in a world that was becoming less interested in lectures and reading, Jean Springer became an important advocate for the Mercantile Library in the 1960s. She put her public relations skills from serving as a Woman Air Force Service Pilot (WASP) to use. She invited dynamic speakers, hosted lunchtime lectures in partnership with the University of Cincinnati, concerts, and an “Air Conditioning Party” to celebrate the installation of air conditioning in the building, and spearheaded fundraising events and travel, all while bringing the Library into a modern world.

Even recently, the Mercantile Library had been called the “best kept secret in Cincinnati,” to which, John Faherty retorted, “Secret from whom?” In the past ten years, the Library has increasingly worked to serve a more diverse audience. They have sought out wider varieties of international speakers, including authors like Zadie Smith. When they invited Chuck D to speak, they had to move to another venue because over 700 people wanted to attend. The Library is striving to have a more diverse board and staff and is starting to reach a younger audience. They also are currently working to build relationships with equity and diversity focused groups to help the Library expand who they can reach. On February 25, they hosted Black Future City, an urban consulate that operates from the Mercantile Library. The Library is also excited about a currently in-progress project by their resident artist.

Faherty thinks that the founders of the library, though not reflective of the modern audience, would have been proud of recent efforts. Even though the Mercantile Library became relatively exclusive soon after its founding, it was created on the basis of “democratizing knowledge.” Despite its changes, the Library always has and continues to celebrate books and thought. The Mercantile Library takes great pride in its long tradition of hosting renowned visiting speakers, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Herman Melville. Most of their lectures are free to the public, with the exception of one fundraising event every year. It remains a “creature of the 19 th century” while continuing to evolve, remaining relevant and striving to stimulate discussion.

The Mercantile Library, 1890. Credit: https://mercantilelibrary.com/history/

Answering Hard Questions: Clinical Ethicist Dr. Elizabeth Lanphier

When a patient’s family, caregivers, or medical providers raise ethical questions about how to best balance a patient’s needs, who helps them navigate those conversations and decisions? At the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, a team comprising of doctors and philosophers that all have special training in ethics is prepared to help guide those conversations, hear concerns of families and health care providers, and prepare nurses and other bedside care providers for caring for diverse patient populations ranging from young kids to legal adults.

Dr. Elizabeth Lanphier is part of this team.

As a clinical ethicist, Lanphier is on call to provide counsel about patient care decisions when ethical concerns arise from patients, family, and physicians. Dr. Lanphier addresses questions from families about why an alternate care choice may not be offered, helps doctors and families weigh risks and benefits of medical options, and may work to rectify miscommunications. Much of the time, there is no single clear answer. Lanphier recognizes that families are their own ”experts on their family“ making decisions alongside medical expertise, and provide different perspectives on the risks and benefits of various choices.

Research

Lanphier also researches and writes about bioethics and social and political philosophy, often as it relates to medical care. In addition to being a clinical assistant professor in the Division of General and Community Pediatrics in the UC College of Medicine, Lanphier is a research assistant professor in the UC philosophy department, and affiliate faculty in the UC women, gender and sexuality studies department. In graduate school at Vanderbilt University, from which she earned her PhD in philosophy, she was interested in the intersection of medicine and philosophy, and sought out experiences related to this intersection with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and its Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society.

Now, she uses moral philosophy to put bioethics into practice, especially as it relates to healthcare access, justice, and inclusion. Her desire to understand and serve vulnerable populations, especially those who have historically been mistreated or neglected, drives her research.  Currently , Dr. Lanphier is working on the connection between  trauma-informed care and ethics consultation and recently published a paper advocating for a trauma informed approach to ethics consultation with neonatologist Uchenna Anani.

Additionally, her community work during graduate school with people incarcerated on Tennessee’s death row has instilled in her research and advocacy a commitment towards the incarcerated population. Last year Lanphier along with colleauges Takunda Matose and Abu Ali Abdur’raham (who is currently incarcerated on Tennessee’s death row) published a paper in the Public Philosophy Journal. In December she advocated for incarcerated persons to be prioritized higher in Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccine allocation. The resulting opinion piece received positive feedback, including from a senator who acknowledged how much work needs to be done. While some public reactions were critical, she was thrilled that it had such a wide impact, as she always aims to reach as broad an audience as possible. She and a colleague are investigating if and how the incarcerated population can take part in studies such as the COVID-19 vaccine trials without risking the coercion or exploitation this population has historically experienced in the medical research leading to tighter research regulations on incarcerated persons and other vulnerable populations.

Trust in Science

COVID-19 has brought important questions about bioethics, healthcare access, and public confidence in medical research to the forefront.  Lanphier sees medical professionals growing frustrated as the public’s trust in science deteriorates. To her, this means that clear communication and approaching medical research in a way that regains that trust is paramount. Part of this includes increasing representation of persons of color (POC) in biomedical research as researchers and participants to help increase confidence in clinical trial outcomes. As her opinion piece in the Columbus Dispatch shows, she has been considering the problem of who should have access to the COVID-19 vaccine, as it is still a limited resource. For example, healthcare workers should be offered it, because we need them to keep us healthy and they are at risk of virus exposure. Beyond that, it gets more complex. How do you designate other frontline workers? Many groups, including store workers and teachers, are needed, but by the time we include so much of the population, we are well beyond the number of available doses, though this number of available doses continues to increase. With this scarcity and the vaccine currently approved for emergency use, we are also a long way from being able to mandate receiving the vaccine for those who work with the vulnerable. She also posed the question of how to approach undocumented populations, who still play a critical role in their communities but may have limited access to healthcare, and also stressed that vaccine roll out needs to also address hesitancy.

Lanphier’s career path leading to her position on a clinical ethics team combined philosophy with practical experience and post-doctoral training working in healthcare environments.  Her role mixes a theoretical, philosophical approach to broader questions with day-to-day interaction with families and care teams related to ethical concerns that come from a diversity of beliefs and backgrounds. She encourages anyone wanting to follow a similar path to seek out a wide variety of experiences and talk to others who are already established in their field.

Workshop: Public Engagement with Science and Philosophy of Science

Organized by the University of Cincinnati Center for Public Engagement with Science

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (PI: Melissa Jacquart; co-PI: Angela Potochnik), cosponsored by the UC Taft Research Center, Philosophy Department, and College of Arts and Sciences, and by the Philosophy of Science Association 

Details

🌐 Online

📅 April 30, May 7, May 14

Registration is free and open until April 23

Register

About

Public engagement with science involves more than simply scientists explaining scientific facts to the public. Approaches to public engagement must address complex issues like trust in science, political polarization, and understanding science’s methods and social structure. This interdisciplinary workshop brings together academics and practitioners to develop theoretical and practical resources for public outreach and engagement about science. The aims are to (1) develop connections between philosophy of science and other disciplines with expertise in public engagement and (2) identify and help develop distinctive roles for philosophers of science in the interdisciplinary project of engaging the public with science. The workshop’s themes are science communication, formal and informal science education, and scientific work with communities. 

Logistics

This workshop will take place entirely online and will consist of both asynchronous and synchronous content.   

  • Asynchronous content: Keynote talks will be delivered as asynchronous pre-recorded talks and will be made available to registrants in early April.   
  • Synchronous content: Live workshop content (see below) will take place online in Zoom. To facilitate both asynchronous and synchronous discussions, the workshop will also have a Slack Community. Access to the workshop’s Slack Community and Zoom links will be made available to registrants in early April.   
  • Post Workshop Content: All asynchronous keynote talks and most synchronous content will be recorded and posted online at the conclusion of the workshop on the Center for Public Engagement with Science YouTube page. 

Learn more about details, schedule and registration

Vaccine Hesitancy

Author Maya Goldenberg joins us for a conversation about her new book, Vaccine Hesitancy: Public Trust, Expertise, and the War on Science.  Professor Goldenberg will be in conversation with Angela Potochnik, professor of philosophy and inaugural director of the Center for Public Engagement with Science at the University of Cincinnati.

This virtual program is hosted in partnership with the Center for Public Engagement with Science at the University of Cincinnati, as well as the Philosophy of Science Association.

Free and open to the public. Registration is required.

Register

Maya J. Goldenberg is associate professor of philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Guelph. Her research centers on the philosophy of science and medicine, with interest in the connection between science and values.

Angela Potochnik is professor of philosophy and inaugural director of the Center for Public Engagement with Science at the University of Cincinnati. Her research addresses the nature of science and its successes, the relationships between science and the public, and methods in population biology. She is the author of Idealization and the Aims of Science (2017) and coauthor of Recipes for Science (2018), an introduction to scientific methods and reasoning. 

About the Book

Vaccine Hesitancy: Public Trust, Expertise, and the War on Science

The public has voiced concern over the adverse effects of vaccines from the moment Dr. Edward Jenner introduced the first smallpox vaccine in 1796. This book explores vaccine hesitancy and refusal among parents in the industrialized North. Although biomedical, public health, and popular science literature has focused on a scientifically ignorant public, the real problem, Goldenberg argues, lies not in misunderstanding, but in mistrust. Goldenberg ultimately reframes vaccine hesitancy as a crisis of public trust rather than a war on science, arguing that having good scientific support of vaccine efficacy and safety is not enough.

Preorder Vaccine Hesitancy

7th Annual Cincinnati Project Symposium

The 7th Annual Cincinnati Project Symposium will be held virtually this year on Friday, March 5th. The symposium will have multiple panels about community-based research, followed by a keynote address by Dr. Mohan Dutta. Dr. Dutta is the director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) and a Dean’s Chair Professor at Massey University, New Zealand.

Celebrated Series “A Pact With Reason” is Now Online

In the Summer of 2020, the Mercantile Library co-hosted “A Pact with Reason,” presented by Dr. Piers Bursill-Hall and co-sponsored by Dr. Zvi Biener and Dr. Terry Grundy. Bursill-Hall is a philosopher of science at Cambridge. His interests include the history of the development of math and science in Western societies. Grundy describes him as a “natural showman” who attracted a large, global audience, many of whom were not scientists or philosophers. The Mercantile Library reported one of the largest audiences they have had for an event. 

Conversations between Grundy and Bursill-Hall about  a “weakening fidelity to truth and reason” in society inspired the series. Despite the broad topic, they wanted to tell the story of Western civilization’s “Pact with Reason” and how it developed over the centuries. As Bursill-Hall wrapped up the 10-part series, the audience demanded—and even sponsored—a two-part encore expanding on the briefly, previously mentioned Galileo Affair.  

We are excited that this series is now available online