If a train leaves New York going west at 60 mph, and a train leaves Chicago going east at 70 mph, how many microaggressions will the conductors commit before the trains collide?
Think this question can't be answered by physics? Think again! According to Pomona College, racial bias and microaggressions are a necessary subject for physics coursework.
"Foundations of Modern Physics" is a mandatory class for all physics and astronomy students at Pomona College. And one of their first assignments last fall was a project called "Decolonizing Physics."
The Pomona College course catalog describes the class as an "introduction to wave mechanics, spectra and structure of atoms, molecules and solids, nuclear physics and particle physics."
According to an email obtained by the Independent sent from a student asking for assistance on the project, students in Foundations of Modern Physics must "learn and discuss implicit bias, microaggressions and other similar topics." The email revealed that students are expected to "bring to light some of these issues to both the physics department and Pomona in general," and cited a student movement at Harvard University, which highlighted microaggressions against students of color, as an example of the work expected from the students enrolled in the physics class.
It is not clear what aspects of wave mechanics, atomic structures, molecules and solids, nuclear physics, or particle physics deals with interpersonal implicit bias, a topic typically reserved for the social sciences and humanities.
The email stated that the student attempted her own rendition of the "#ITooAmHarvard" project—a student-developed movement at Harvard University to highlight microaggressions against students of color—with the catchphrase "#ITooAmSTEM." The student called for the stories of female students or students of color to discuss STEM-related social justice topics for women and persons of color.