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Abolition Science Praxis (Part 1) Dr. Danny Morales-Doyle

Abolition Science Praxis (Part 1) Dr. Danny Morales-Doyle

In this episode, we speak to our guest, Dr. Danny Morales-Doyle, on a praxis of abolition. Dr. Morales-Doyle is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago and has been developing a justice centered science pedagogy.

Banner Image: CPS Chemistry Students to Study Toxic Metals, Environmental Racism (Creative Commons / © 2013, Jeremy Atherton)

Recommended Artist:

ICE El Hielo by La Santa Cecilia

Selected References: (see full reference list at the end)

Project SEEEC:

Conner, C. D. (2005). A people's history of science: Miners, midwives, and low mechanicks. Hachette UK.

Cajete, G. (2000) Native Science: Natural laws of interdependence. Clear Light Publishing.

Fals-Borda, O., & Rahman, M. A. (Eds.). (1991). Action and knowledge: Breaking the monopoly with participatory action-research. New York: Apex Press.

Murrell Jr, P. C. (2001). The community teacher: A new framework for effective urban teaching. Teachers College Press, Columbia University. NY, NY.

Morales-Doyle, D. (2017). Justice-centered science pedagogy: A catalyst for academic achievement and social transformation. Sci Ed., 101, 1034-1060.

Morales‐Doyle, D. (2018). Students as curriculum critics: Standpoints with respect to relevance,   goals, and science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 55, 749–773.

Reyes, H. (2013). Exploratory investigation of heavy metal deposition in the environs of Chicago's coal‐fired power generation plants. Unpublished report prepared for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.

Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive schooling: Issues of caring in education of US-Mexican youth. State University of New York Press.

Transcript (Please excuse any errors)

[Music Intro ♫]

LaToya [LS]: Hey listeners! Welcome to Abolition Science Radio, we’re your hosts. I’m LaToya Strong-

Atasi [AD]: And I’m Atasi Das. We’re here to talk all things science and math and their relationship to-

LS: Colonialism

AD: Oppression

LS: Resistance

AD: Education

LS: Liberation

AD: And so much more.

[ ♫ Music fade out.]



AD: Hey listeners, welcome to our next episode, our latest episode of Abolition Science.

LS: Radio!

AD: Radio.

Both: Ha ha ha ha.

LS: On this episode, we will be talking about the praxis of abolition. And Atasi, can you tell us what praxis is?

AD: Well, there’s a lot of different ways praxis is talked about but when we are using the word praxis, we are talking about an interconnection between learning, thinking, and doing. And we have Dr. Daniel Morales-Doyle as our guest to help tease this out.

LS: And who is Dr. Daniel Morales-Doyle?

AD: He is a former Chicago public school high school science teacher, that had been teaching in the classroom for about 12 years. And now he is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago. So, what is it about his work that embodies what we imagine as a praxis of abolition science to be?

LS: His research and his teaching situate science education as a component of larger systems of oppression, such as racism, economic exploitation, patriarchy, etc., etc. And so, his teaching, now that he is a professor and when he was a high school teacher embodies these things.

AD: Great! Is there anything else you think listeners should know before we get into the interview?

LS: Yes! I do! So Dr. Morales-Doyle works on science curriculum, science teaching, and teacher education. His work engages youth in not just learning science, but also learning to critique science in order to construct communities that are more just and sustainable.

AD: Awesome, let’s get into it!



LS: Hi, so Daniel, thank you again for agreeing to be on the podcast, we’re gonna delve right in! And just to get started, we like to ask all of our guests to tell us where you’re calling from and what you’re currently listening to?

Danny Morales-Doyle [DMD]: I am calling from Chicago, Illinois, what I’m currently listening to…like music wise or?

LS: Music, however you wanna take it, yeah.

DMD: I’ve been listening to a lot of La Santa Cecilia lately, a band from LA.

LS: Ok, I, that’ll give us something to listen to cause I have not heard of them.

DMD: They’re awesome!

AD: What kind of music is it?

DMD: I would describe them as sort of a Chicanx rock band.

LS: Oh nice!

AD: Cool.

DMD: I was in LA last year, we actually ran into them, in like a flea market. Ran into the lead singer, ‘La Marisoul’ [Marisol "La Marisoul" Hernandez], and she sang a little bit of my daughter’s favorite song to her, so that was pretty cool.

LS: Oh! That is cool.

AD: That’s sweet. Nice. Also cool that, you get to like have that interaction not at a concert, kinda outside of it, with the artist, that’s cool.

DMD: Yeah, it was cool. We saw them – we were at the Taste of Chicago about a week ago, so, we got a chance to see them in concert also.

LS: Daniel, could you tell us about your work in general? So, overall what you focus on and then any projects that you are working on, specifically at this moment?

DMD: Yeah, for sure. So, I would describe my work as – what I’m constantly trying to figure out and grapple with is, what role science education might be able to play in movements for social justice. So, right now, I have sort of, two different things that I spend a lot of time on. Um, one of them is the teacher education project called, Project SEEEC for Science Education and Equity in Chicago, which focuses on educating community responsive teachers, high school science teachers for Chicago schools, and also, developing science teacher leaders in the Chicago public schools amongst high school science teachers. And then, the second project that, generally spend most of my time has been devoted to recently has been, collaboration with high school chemistry teachers here in Chicago, and also with scientists, new organizers, and young people, to engage in what we’re calling Youth Participatory Science. Which we think of as somewhat between Youth Participatory Action Research and Citizen Science. So, we think Youth Participatory Science has a lot of potential to be a tool that addresses issues of environmental racism, both in repairing past harm, dealing with current struggles, and hopefully if possible, preventing future harms. So, specifically, we’re working on projects that address urban heavy metal contamination. I guess that’s a quick snapshot of some of the stuff we’re working on right now.

AD: Can I ask a follow up question about the Community Responsive Teacher Project?

DMD: Of course.

AD: Like, you’re talking about [community responsive teacher], can you tell us about a little bit more about, what is that?

DMD: Yeah, so Project SEEEC is a partnership with folks here at UIC with the struggle over schools and with the community-based organizations. The idea is to develop what Peter Murrell (2001) calls um, Community Teachers while specifically working with community high school science teachers. And so, the new teachers who are part of the program come through our MBB in Science Education at UIC, and as they come through that program which has an explicit focus on issues of justice, um, they also participate in programming workshops led by community organizations here in Chicago. For example, we just had a workshop last week led by the Chicago Freedom School. The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, is a partner with us on both of the projects I just mentioned. And then, an important part of project SEEEC is also that we have experienced master teachers involved in the project as mentors for the young teachers and as science education leaders in Chicago. And so, working with nine really transformative teachers who have been teaching in CBS for long time, and they lead teacher inquiry groups with the new teachers and then they’re also doctoral students in our Math and Science Education program as UIC.

AD: Thanks for sharing about that.

LS: Daniel, in your work, you develop something you called Justice Centered Science Pedagogy (See: Morales-Doyle, 2017). Which I think ties in perfectly to the two projects that you just described to us, could you tell us just what Justice Centered Science Pedagogy is? Describe it for our listeners, please.


DMD: Well, when I think about this, I think about my experience at Social Justice High School. So, I had the honor of teaching for seven years at a school called the Greater Lawndale School for Social Justice, which was started by a hunger strike here in the South Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. And, the school specifically was charged with carrying on the traditions and values of that hunger strike. And so, that’s why it was called Social Justice High School. And so, one of the things that all of us who worked at that school when it was getting started, one of the things that we learned was that the term Social Justice can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And that there’s a real danger of the term being co-opted, that would just mean everything ‘good’ or ‘nice’ which renders it meaningless and takes the politics out of it. And so, I learned the term Justice Centered from my mentor, colleague, and comrade, Dave Stovall, who started using the term to push back against that tendency of the term social justice to be co-opted. He and I co-taught some classes together at the high school. And so, to put justice at the center of our teaching means constantly asking questions about the concrete realities of our students as they’re connected with broader sociopolitical and historical forces. So, for example, we can’t talk about equity in science education without talking about the roots of inequity—white supremacy, settler colonialism, heteropatriarchy. We also can’t talk about inequity without considering the way those forces are manifest in our students’ everyday lives and in their communities. And so, then to engage in justice centered pedagogy means that we’re constantly, um, asking ourselves, how is our teaching disrupting those forces? [8:17] And, a big part of that for me is to view students as transformative intellectuals, which means believing in their capacity to lead social change. So I think, to get back to my response to your earlier question, that means I’m constantly asking myself, how can science education help students to strengthen their capacity to do that? To be leaders for transformative change in their communities and in the world?


LS: Could you, I mean, this is gonna be a very broad question, but you refer to your students as transformative intellectuals who can enact social change, what did that look like in your classroom? Um, your students as transformative intellectuals.

DMD: Yeah so, I’ll give you a project that, or an example from a project that connects to the youth participatory science project that we’re doing um, now. So, there were two coal power plants on the Southwest Side of Chicago in two adjacent, um, predominantly Mexican communities, and a lot of people don’t know, I’ve been told that Southwest Side of Chicago actually constitutes the largest urban Mexican community outside of the original borders of Mexico. So, people don’t realize, people who aren’t from Chicago or haven’t spent a lot of time in Chicago don’t realize that we have large Mexican communities here. And so, both of the coal power plants in the city were located in these adjacent communities and they had been grandfathered into the Clean Air Act on the pretense that they were gonna shut down any day now. And that was back when the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970. So, by the late 90s, the community really started organizing to have them shut down, ‘cause they still weren’t. And after 14 years led by a group called the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, after 14 years of struggle, the community finally won their closure in 2012. So, my students and I had the opportunity to work with that organization, the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, to study some of the ramifications of the fact that those power plants operated in the neighborhood for a long time, without adequate pollution control. And of course, we continue to make the argument that there’s no such thing as adequate pollution control for coal power plants. Um, we shouldn’t be burning coal anymore. But, even so, we work with a community college professor named Héctor Reyes, and a faculty member at Northwestern named Shelby Hatch, and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization to do this study of whether the coal power plants had deposited dangerous levels of heavy metals in the soil. Um, in the community. And eventually students had the opportunity to share what they learned through that project with about 125 community members who came out. [LS: Wow!] To hear about the results. [11:10] And so, they were in this position as experts in the science that they had done, but also as members of the community that they were speaking to. And so, they had this sort of unique grassroots credibility, where they really knew how to talk to their neighbors and their families and they really knew their science. And so, their presentation was really sandwiched between presentations by EPA officials and presentations by Professor Reyes, and I think a lot of folks in attendance agreed that their presentation was the best received and the best understood because of that ability to relate to their families and their neighbors and also understand the science. And being a largely Mexican community, of course a lot of people in the audience prefer communicating in Spanish to English and several of the presentations from the EPA, from Professor Reyes, were all bilingual, but the students had a unique ability to communicate even still, that they explained to me what’s beyond their bilingualism. What was related to their membership in the community and their positionality as young people from the families who are experiencing the environmental issues that they were talking about.


AD: Sounds like a really transformative and powerful experience. I just wanted to back up a little bit to our listeners that might now know or educators who might now know about this. You talk about yPAR (Youth Participatory Action Research) and how it is that might play a role, it sounds like it’s an important aspect of Justice Centered Pedagogy. Would you say that that is so? Or could you talk a little bit about its relationship – yPAR and Justice Centered Pedagogy?


DMD: Yeah, so I think of Justice Centered Pedagogy as a form of Critical Pedagogy. And, for me, at least in terms of my understanding, Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Critical Pedagogy go way back, they’ve always had a relationship, um, that kinda begins for me in the revolutionary context of Latin America. Um, I think of Orlando Fals Borda when I think of the roots of Participatory Action Research. And I think of Paulo Freire when I think of the roots of Critical Pedagogy, and at the same time there were similar orientations and practices here in the Southern States of the United States during the Civil Rights Movement. I think of the Highlander Folk School. I think of the pedagogy outlined by Carter G. Woodson, I think of educators like Septima Clark. So, basically, I think a lot of the relationship between Critical Pedagogy and Participatory Research is a commitment to ordinary, everyday people in communities that are marginalized, producing knowledge for themselves, um, understanding their own realities in order to change those realities. So, critical pedagogy has, it’s a teaching approach right, and Participatory Action Research is a research approach, and both of them are - have to do with everyday people in communities building knowledge in order to change conditions, fight against oppression, make their communities more just and sustainable places.


AD: Thanks for sharing that. Could we maybe ask a little bit about, like, what are some issues – you talked about one issue in terms of the coal power plants and studying the levels of heavy metals in the soils due to the presence, and if you could talk a little bit more about some other social justice science issues, that either you’ve taught or have come up from other people’s teaching, cause it could be a wide range of things, so what are some of them?

LS: Sorry, before we get into the issues, if you could define - describe or define, how you articulate social justice science issues. And then, move on to those other examples?


DMD: For sure. Social justice science issues sit at the intersection of social issues and scientific issues. Which sound kinda like what people call socio-scientific issues, but there’s two important additional caveats for me. One is that social justice science issues emerge from students or their communities as important to the students, or to their communities. And then, we also, as teacher have to connect those issues with larger sociopolitical forces and explicitly consider issues of oppression. So, those are sort of the two additional criteria I think of for social justice science issues, as opposed to the a social, socio-scientific issue. So, just as a quick example. Heavy metal contamination is a socio-scientific issue. We consider the way that that interacts with practices of redlining and housing discrimination in urban communities on the West Side of Chicago on the South Side of Chicago, then we understand that in those communities, this is a social justice science issue. We consider larger forces of oppression like environmental racism and it’s locally relevant because the ways that communities are grappling with it.

So, in terms of other topics, um, other social justice science issues. One of them that comes to mind right away that I’ve done some teaching about is the issue of drug development. And I’ll mention briefly that my understanding of this as a social justice science issue came from two sets of sort of questions or stories that I heard from students a lot. One of them was, students would ask me questions about prescription drugs that they were prescribed or that family members were prescribed. And over time, I came to realize that as a science educator, part of my responsibility was to prepare them to ask those questions of the medical professionals that they were interacting with instead of bringing them to me cause I’m – no such thing, I’m not a medical professional. But that their science education was not preparing them to be confident in that imbalanced power relationship to ask those questions of the people who could answer them more effectively.

And then, another set of stories I was really sick of hearing was the stories of police harassment, by my students. [17:18] Where especially young men of color were constantly being harassed and being accused, positioned, um policed as if they were involved in trading illegal drugs. And, to me those are both issues of how we understand drugs in our society and how drugs were developed. And a substantial portion of drugs were Western Science co-optations of indigenous knowledge of plants. [AD & LS: Mhmm.] Um, and that goes for all modern pharmaceuticals and the narcotics or other drugs that we classify as illegal street drugs. Right, and so, on one hand, folks’ knowledge has been co-opted and become incredibly profitable, and then the other hand, often times the descendants of the people whose knowledge was co-opted are criminalized and targeted by violence and policing for trying to make a living again, off of the co-optation of their ancestors’ knowledge. So for me, science education has a role to play there in terms of helping students to understand the relationships between different forms of knowledge and knowledge development as it relates to colonialism and structural racism. So that’s another one.

I won’t get deep into the other ones, but some others we’ve taught about or worked on are, beauty and cosmetic products as they relate to racist, sexist, standards of beauty and problematic chemicals in those products. Um, we’ve talked a lot about mining and resource extraction from the Earth, precious metals that are used in technology or as jewelry, gems. I work with some really awesome biology teachers who do an excellent job debunking the biological underpinnings of race and racism and teaching students that race is a social construct and teaching about the history of scientific racism and the role of the field of biology in sort of, propping it up. [LS: Mhmm] So, those are some other examples of what I would call social justice science issues.


AD: Cool, thank you. Drug development piece and those questions, it’s really pervasive, uh, especially. I mean, I don’t know if it’s a new context, but in thinking of all the new stories that come up and its relevance to investigate. So, I appreciate you sharing just kinda how that can be unpacked in a science context, in a Science Ed classroom. And its necessity to!

DMD: Absolutely.


LS: I wanna get into like the how, do we bring these social justice science issues into the classroom? So, I know for you, you talked about these things emerge from what was happening in your students’ lives and the questions that your students were asking. I mean, I’m gonna go out and say it that, you were probably prepared because of how, your positionality in the world, how you view the role of education and science. And so, what does it look like for someone who may not come from a social justice background? Or may not come from an activist background? How do we begin to activate these teachers? And then, how can someone who’s just starting out think about bringing these things into their classroom?
DMD: That’s a really good question. And certainly, growing up and whatever, organizing and activist family had a lot to do, and then I’ve had a lot of, often mentors in education over the years who’ve helped me to become a critical teacher. So, there’s a lot of components of that. I mean, one of them is the importance of getting to know the communities where we teach, whether or not we come from those communities. And so, obviously folks who teach in communities that are different from the ones where they grew up or have lived have a lot more work to do, in that regard. But even folks who grew up in a particular community, you know, the educational system, um, “subtractive schooling”, as Angela Valenzuela (1999) calls it, right. Or “miseducation” as Carter G. Woodson (1933) calls it, um, “deculturalization” as Joel Spring (1994) calls it, but like, that has an impact on you and so sometimes, even if you grew up in that community, you have some, quite a bit of learning to do. But again, a lot more for the folks that are teaching somewhere that’s um less familiar to them.

So, that’s part of why Project SEEEC, it has been so important for us to partner with community based organizations who can help new teachers to see the communities in complex lights. To see their strengths, and their traditions of struggle, and their victories and successes in fighting for social justice over the years, and also the complex array of challenges they continue to face. And, the community-based organizations do that in a way that we at the university just can’t. [21:44] When I started teaching at the Greater Lawndale Little Village School for Social Justice, the very first thing I did was to reach out to the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, to humbly ask them to teach me about their organizing campaign and the issues they were organizing around, so that those can become the basis of curriculum and so, that would be point number one for folks who’re trying to learn how to teach in this way. Is, be humble and get to know the community where you’re teaching. And I, I think, there’s nothing also that can replace living in that community [LS: Mhmm] and being around a lot, and seeing your students in places other than the school and the classroom. And, getting to know their families outside of the school and classroom context. [22:28]

Another thing that I’ll bring up that has been, we’ve noticed really really important, this is kind of a new revelation through the youth participatory science work, is you gotta learn a lot of history, right? And understanding the historical roots of some of the injustices that we see today becomes really really important. So, in learning about heavy metal contamination, we’ve had to learn a lot about: why was lead so pervasive in gasoline and paint in the first place? And, learning about the really devastating role of science in the field of chemistry in that history, putting those toxic heavy metals into chemicals knowing about their toxicity, having indisputable scientific evidence about their toxicity, and making that decision, um, because of the profit motive.

So, and then learning about the history of communities in terms of the, you know, we have a ton of defunct industrial spaces. Brownfield, Superfund sites here in Chicago and so learning about communities in that sense, get the historical land use has been really important. You know, what used to be in this place? And why, you know, what was on that vacant lot and why has it been vacant for so long and what used to stand there before the housing projects were there, right? So, we’ve learned recently that there’s a lot of historical learning to be done - history of science, history of communities, histories of our present sociopolitical context. Um, there’s a lot of history. And then, there’s a lot of extra science filler too.

I have learned way more chemistry in my 15 years of trying to teach this way than I ever learned while I was getting my chemistry degree. [LS: Mhmm] Because, undergraduate science education is still super decontextualized. It’s still really really traditional and Eurocentric. I certainly didn’t learn about this history, the combined chemical history of aspirin and heroin for example, while I was getting my chemistry degree. [24:28] And I didn’t learn about the role of Western Science in taking the indigenous Andean practice of chewing coca leaves and turning that into purified cocaine powder. I didn’t learn about that, that history while I was getting my chemistry degree. Right, so, there’s been, that’s both history and it’s chemistry, so I’ve learned a lot of chemistry, of history, and that’s part of the work. For sure.


AD: That is such a poignant and powerful point, the way that it’s so disentangled in our schooling. So that you’re looking at one piece without really making reference to the whole. I feel like, it’s like this theme that keeps coming up in this conversation and I think even in our, LaToya and I, our work, how do we bring that back together? Because, you can’t understand it completely without understanding its relationship. So, I appreciate you bringing that up. It’s really powerful.

LS: Yeah, and I think Daniel, your work is really pushing against science as this neutral, objective, isolated, discipline. And I mean, you’ve - I dunno whether to say what you’re doing is interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, or transdisciplinary…I mean, but it’s really really powerful work. So, I’m wondering if you could talk about – just in your teaching experience, what were, and trying to enact this, because like in our work, it’s just, its messy, [DMD: Mhmm ] um, and so just maybe some of the things you’ve learned along the way, which you’ve shared, but like, the emergence of this justice centered science pedagogy, um, the emergence of your as a professor, if you could just maybe speak about a little of that. If that even made any sense, ha ha ha ha, what I just said.


DMD: I think it made sense. I will try to do that, it’s not easy, but, even before I do, I’ll mention that this, the, this isolation and separation of discipline, especially when it comes to science, technology, engineering, math, right the STEM discipline, I think it’s strategic on the part of the powers that be to a certain extent. In terms of, you know, would you be able to recruit scientists, engineers, mathematicians, into weapons development so easily if they had a more interdisciplinary and more well-rounded understanding of the sociopolitical context of their work? Right, or is it actually strategic to prevent STEM professionals from having sociopolitical analysis. And that’s something that I’ve learned from my students. My students have taught me that they try to get us interested in science, and focus only on the science, and then eventually we feel pressures into doing the type of work that a lot of scientists do, you know.

I think in the present political discourse, science is framed as this force for good, and it’s just not. I mean, I would venture to guess that there’s more scientists and engineers who work for the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) than there are scientists and engineers struggling against it. [LS: Mhmm] Right? So, this idea that science is anti-global warming. I mean, science and technology have created the very causes of global warming. [LS: Yes, speak on it.] So we can’t say that, you know.. science is always… […][27:38]

And so that’s been, to transition actually back to your question, that’s been an important evolution of my teaching. I think I was much more – I had some critical understanding of science. I mean, part of why I didn’t become a scientist was because I couldn’t imagine myself getting funding from the people who funded most of the science that was done, but still early on in my teaching career, I was much more gung-ho about encouraging students to do science pathways. And, I’ve become a lot more critical of that stance over the years. And I’ve become more and more critical of the way that science operates in our world - whether that be its usefulness in waging war, and begetting profits at the expense of communities and the environment. Or just, its role in sort of, cultural imperialism and, and marginalizing other ways of knowing. That was something that I didn’t have a very sophisticated understanding of when I started teaching, I may still not, but the importance of recognizing other ways of knowing, indigenous ways of knowing, subaltern ways of knowing, and to put science in its place as being one limited, and powerful, but problematic way of knowing, I think has been something that I’ve become much more aware of as I’ve taught. [28:59]

Um, I think the ability to focus as a teacher was another big step forward for me. When you’re dealing with issues that are so complex and so interdisciplinary and have so many facets to them, you have a tendency as a teacher I think, to want students to just be constantly engaging with the complexity. And we have to be constantly engaging with that complexity but sometimes that’s a really difficult way to teach and learn. And there I think does need to be some structure, focus, so that students can deal with the complexity, but also have opportunities to kind of, learn things in an incremental and manageable way, so that we don’t hit them with a ton of bricks everyday. Ha ha, but we give them opportunities to develop their capacity in a focused and thoughtful way over time. And so, I think early on in my teaching career, I lacked some focus and was constantly dealing with interconnection, instead of being more careful with my planning and as I got more careful with my planning and decided to focus on big ideas in a more sort of, methodical way, I became a better teacher also.


I constantly grapple with too – and that’s why I framed my work this way when you originally asked it. What is the role? I still don’t really know what the role of science education is as it relates to struggles for justice, um, in our communities. Um, sometimes I worry that we’re doing more harm than good even those of us who have this justice centered perspective, so that’s a constant struggle. And it’s something I struggle more with the longer I do this, not less.

AD: I think that’s like, you’re speaking to such an important – what I hear from the, what you shared, is that, there’s kind of, in unsettling the discipline itself, it’s unsettling in our own praxis of like, being certain – what are our steps. I can imagine in the process of teaching, I’m coming from an elementary teaching background and those decisions you make of focus or complexity and how to go about it is like, such a, it’s an art. I mean, you’re always kind of like, re-adjusting and so I appreciate you bringing this up because for, educators who’ve been teaching for a long time to educators who’re just starting, it’s kind of like, well, what do I do? What’s the answer? And it’s really hard to answer that, and even question. Because, sometimes we are building this plane as we’re flying it kinda thing, you know. I appreciate you, you sharing that and really in a very honest way.


DMD: Absolutely, I had a professor here at UIC, Bill Schubert, who would always ask the question – what’s worthwhile? He said, that’s the ultimate curriculum question, right – what’s worthwhile? And I think what I would add to that is, knowing what our priorities are with respect to justice, with respect to sustainability, with respect to fighting back against white supremacy and neoliberalism and settler-colonialism, even once we understand those are our priorities, it still becomes a really difficult question. What’s worthwhile? [AD: Mhmm] Within that context.

AD: Absolutely. Well, we appreciate all the different things that you’ve shared, Toya did you have a…?

LS: No, yeah, I’m just gonna, if there’s any – thank you! – but if, are there any final thoughts or anything that has come up for you throughout our time and this conversation that you just wanted to speak to or share that maybe we haven’t asked or just, was brought up for you?

DMD: I think your questions were really awesome and definitely got me thinking, and so I appreciate the opportunity to, sort of think through some of these things with you all.

AD: Yeah, absolutely, I also, and I know LaToya and I were furiously thinking and writing as you’re talking of things we wanna keep engaging with, so thank you for being on! I had actually one other follow up, if folks wanted to kind of think about some of the topics that you’ve brought up, or even just curricular, curriculum wise, or science specifically, are there particular books that you would recommend for anyone who’s interested? I mean there was a lot of different topics you brought up –

LS: Or articles? Articles…


DMD: Yeah, articles or books. I mean, so I guess, I’ll plug a couple of my own articles. I have a piece in Science Education that defines Justice Centered Science Pedagogy (Morales-Doyle, 2017) and talks about the sort of, the initial soil project that I mentioned. I have another piece (Morales-Doyle, 2018) in JRST (Journal of Research in Science Teaching) about the different ways that students have responded to that pedagogy.

Um, books in history and all that kind of stuff, I think I don’t have a single go-to source or something that I’ve found to be, ‘you just gotta read this’, but I mean, there are things like: People’s History of Science (Conner, 2005) or, Native Science (Cajete, 2000), or History of Science in Non Western Traditions (See link), all of those are books that have been really helpful for me in terms of learning some of the history at the intersection of science and oppression. I learn more when I read the work of Megan Bang and Shirin Vossoughi than just about anything else I’m reading nowadays. Their work always challenges me, so I recommend that.

My work has been very much shaped and informed by two mentors who I met early as an undergrad, Jeff Duncan-Andrade and K. Wayne Yang, they were the two guys who really convinced me to become a teacher. And so, Jeff [Duncan-Andrade]’s book, The Art of Critical Pedagogy (2008) that he wrote with Ernest Morell, I highly recommend and K. Wayne Yang has a new book with Eve Tuck called Toward What Justice? (2018), um that they edited and put thinking through this issue of what are our justice projects, what are our priorities? How do we think of that. That’s been a book that I’ve been reading lately that’s been really useful for me.

AD: Great, thank you for sharing those. We’ll hopefully put them up for folks to refer to.

DMD: Absolutely.

AD: Great, thank you so much again for being on our podcast show. We hope to continue this conversation with you in many other ways with our work, or who knows what can happen. Thank you so much, we appreciate it.

DMD: Yeah, it’s been my honor. I look for future opportunities to connect and collaborate and learn with each other also.



[♫ La Santa Cecilia Music ♫]



LS: You just heard a clip from the song “Ice El Hielo” by La Santa Cecilia, the group that Dr. Danny Morales-Doyle has been listening to. Atasi, as you were listening, what came up for you?

AD: This song was really powerful, yeah. And it was, I guess one of the biggest things that came up was, at first was about the lives of undocumented immigrants and kind of the real things that they deal with and hope for, uh, it was centering justice. Yes. Talking about injustices as well as like, this want for justice. How about for you?

LS: Yeah, I think I was more drawn to just the music that they were making overall instead of one particular song. The voice of the lead singer is absolutely beautiful. I’m not really sure what to call this music? Like modern, millennial, cumbia, folk, etc, but you could definitely hear the history of the musical cultural of what we now call Mexico and I think that knowing that history and being steeped in that history allowed them to maybe grow some new roots, to develop some new chutes, and create this beautiful genre that they’ve created.

AD: Yeah, it’s interesting that you talk about the sound and it’s kind of tracing to history. Uh, I think that really connects to me, how, Dr. Danny Morales-Doyle is kind of complicating and extending this science pedagogy that’s centering justice. And so that’s, you know, you don’t forget, you actually harness where you’re from and kind of, the history of where you are, like physically whether it’s on the land itself and then like, kind of, trying to create something new and I do think that they, they really tried to practice that in their song. They like, put it out there. So that’s the connection that I saw.


LS: Absolutely, so, they’re definitely added to my playlist, you should give them a listen. It’s a really good group.

AD: Yeah, me too, definitely. Check ‘em out when you get a chance!

AD: Check us out at Abolition Science [dot] org, where you can sign up for our newsletter.

LS: And follow us on Instagram @abolitionscience and also follow us on Twitter @abolition_sci . See you soon!


[♫ Musical outro.]


Full Reference List Throughout Interview (in order mentioned):

La Santa Cecilia:


Project SEEEC:


Community Teachers, Peter Murrell:

Murrell Jr, P. C. (2001). The community teacher: A new framework for effective urban teaching.    Teachers College Press, Columbia University. NY, NY.


Chicago Freedom School:


The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization:


Justice Centered Science Pedagogy:

Morales-Doyle, D. (2017). Justice-centered science pedagogy: A catalyst for academic       achievement and social transformation. Sci Ed., 101, 1034-1060.

David Omotoso Stovall, Professor of African American Studies and Educational Policy Studies:



Clean Air Act of 1970:


Héctor Reyes:

Reyes, H. (2013). Exploratory investigation of heavy metal deposition in the environs of Chicago's coal‐fired power generation plants. Unpublished report prepared for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.


Shelby Hatch:


Orlando Fals Borda:

Fals-Borda, O., & Rahman, M. A. (Eds.). (1991). Action and knowledge: Breaking the monopoly with participatory action-research. New York: Apex Press.


Paulo Freire:

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed (MB Ramos, Trans.). New York: Continuum, 2007.


Septima Clark:



“Subtractive Schooling”, Angela Valenzuela:

Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive schooling: Issues of caring in education of US-Mexican youth. State University of New York Press.


“Miseducation”, Carter G. Woodson:

Woodson, C. G. (1933). The mis-education of the negro. Mineóla, NY.


“Deculturalization”, Joel Spring:

Spring, J. (1994). Deculturalization and the struggle for equity. New York: McGraw-Hill.


William Shubert:



Reading Suggestions from Dr. Morales-Doyle:


Morales-Doyle, D. (2017). Justice-centered science pedagogy: A catalyst for academic achievement and social transformation. Sci Ed., 101, 1034-1060.


Morales‐Doyle, D. (2018). Students as curriculum critics: Standpoints with respect to relevance, goals, and science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 55, 749–773.


Conner, C. D. (2005). A people's history of science: Miners, midwives, and low mechanicks. Hachette UK.


Cajete, G. (2000) Native Science: Natural laws of interdependence. Clear Light Publishing.

History of Science in Non Western Traditions:

Megan Bang:



Shirin Vossoughi:


Jeff Duncan-Andrade:


Book mentioned:

Duncan-Andrade, J. M. R., & Morrell, E. (2008). The art of critical pedagogy: Possibilities for moving from theory to practice in urban schools. Peter Lang.


K. Wayne Yang:


Book mentioned:

            Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (Eds.). (2018). Toward what justice: Describing diverse dreams of justice in education. New York: Routledge.

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