Actions we can take

I am a physics faculty member, and I care about physics and the physics community, which is why I think as a physics faculty member I needed to address the racial violence that is part of the broader society in my physics class today. This is not something that I am always comfortable with.

Also, I am not willing to not take some actions - big or small.

Here is what I did:

  • First, I acknowledged how I was feeling.
  • Second, I pointed out that what happens in the broader society is regularly a macrocosm of what happens in our communities. And we are all physicists in my class.

Discrimination, both overt and covert have been prevalent in physics, on the basis of race, gender, and sexual orientation. We as physicists, have responsibilities to the physics community to act in equitable and ethical ways. APS, the largest professional society of physicists, has been direct about this.

APS has produced resources that codify this. I let the students know about these resources and provided links to them.

To participate in any APS meeting you must agree to comply with the code of conduct The APS has issued guidelines on ethics that cover discrimination and harassment (racial, gender, and sexual orientation)

This is a small action. I suggest that you might do the same or something similar. Several students stayed after to ask questions, and express their thoughts. It felt like an action I can take.

Please reach out if you want any suggestions about what you might do in your classes.

This is not enough, but it felt like a start.

Best, Eric

Eric Brewe
Professor of Physics and Science Education

Physics Education Researcher