All the Voices: Respectful Science and Scholarship

Associate professor of marine affairs Amelia Moore wants students to leave her classes with new vocabulary, new ideas, and new perspectives.

For Amelia Moore, teaching and advocacy are inseparable. “Everything I do now—all of my research, my teaching, my service, my academic practice, my life—is to work toward the goal of transformation.”

Transformation in this context is multivalent. Moore seeks to expand her students’ perspectives to make them more informed and respectful researchers and scholars. In her own work, Moore seeks to expose bias in science while also restoring voices that have been ignored or nearly forgotten. This past summer, for instance, Moore, along with undergraduate fellows, graduate students, colleagues, and community partners, spent time on Block Island working on an ethnographic project, “Public Memory, Place, and Belonging: Unearthing the Hidden History of Racially Marginalized Populations of Block Island.”

One of Moore’s most popular courses is Race, Gender, Colonialism, and Science. She teaches both an undergraduate and a graduate-level version. In its earliest iteration, the course was called Social Studies of Science and it examined the historical and social context for the practice of science. But in recent years, the country’s increasing political polarization, ideological shifts, and violent rhetoric ignited the activist in Moore. “I needed to teach directly to an awareness of this context,” she says. “We can’t pretend that this rhetoric and biased practices aren’t causing real harm in the world or that they don’t need to be countered with real evidence, real scholarship.” Moore says.

“My goal is that my students leave my classes with a new vocabulary, new ideas, and their own perspective on the practice and history of science.”
Ameila Moore

Moore introduces her students to the ways in which colonialism, capitalism, and nationalism have influenced the development of science and technology. Her process is collaborative; she encourages students to share their histories and perspectives, even if controversial. In this way, she says, “we learn about one another and from one another as we discover our own ways to relate to the course material and to the varied experiences of others.”

Graduate students Satya Sullivan and Lauren Zane met in Moore’s class. Sullivan is a cinematographer pursuing a master’s in marine affairs. Zane is a Ph.D. student in the biological and environmental science program. Both rank MAF 500: Race, Gender, Colonialism, and Science as one of their favorite courses. Sullivan calls Moore “an incredible voice,” praising her ability to lead students through the complex conversations that develop when examining the intertwining of history, intersectionality, civilization, power, and wealth generation.

For Zane, the course has shaped and changed how she views herself as a scientist. “My work in that class helped me think about creating a practice in which I can conduct science in a more just, equitable way.”

One of the perks of Moore’s position, she says, is to see ideas seize and propel students.

“It’s incredibly productive to think with students as they’re processing the course content in real time and applying it to their own professions and research and career development,” Moore says. “My goal is that my students leave my classes with a new vocabulary, new ideas, and their own perspective on the practice and history of science.”

–Marybeth Reilly-McGreen

Photo: Nora Lewis


  1. It sounds like you teach history from a unique perspective. I am a commercial fisherman who is going back to finish my degree . Why would you suggest I take your classes?

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