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Making Science More Accessible 

Curb cuts—those ramps in sidewalks that that make it easier for people in wheelchairs to navigate intersections—became a universal feature of the built environment with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. It soon became obvious that this change benefited not only wheelchair users, but also people pushing strollers, bicyclists, runners, travelers wheeling luggage, and anyone who has ever had a short-legged pet or ill-fitting shoes. The effect was so remarkable that social scientists call this phenomenon the “curb cut effect”: a feature or rule intended to help one group of people that ends up benefitting everyone.
 
Scientific and technical fields could realize a curb cut effect—if they were to become more welcoming to people with disabilities, argues Rory A. Cooper. As a result of systemic barriers in scientific education, disabled scientists are few and far between. Although about a quarter of Americans have some limitation in performing daily activities, only 5% of doctorate holders under 40 in scientific and technical fields have a disability.
 
There are successful models for making education and training more accessible to people with disabilities that scientific and technical programs can emulate. Implementing such changes, writes Cooper, “would ensure that creativity, new perspectives, and fresh talent are available to address the challenges facing the world and its inhabitants.”

Read more about accessibility strategies for science and technology education.

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ECOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION
China Planet
China’s success in realizing some of its ambitious climate goals, write Yifei Li and Judith Shapiro, have come at a cost that few democracies could—or should—tolerate.
CLIMATE ACTION
A New Social Contract
Two recent books seek to help readers locate themselves in narratives of global change—one book much more effectively than the other, argues Elizabeth Garbee.
Plus: A novel method for governing emerging technologies could be helpful, writes Jennifer Kuzmabut not until there are policy spaces to implement it. And such a framework should include risk mitigation as a policy tool, argues Elisabeth Belmont.
BEYOND THE HEADLINES
The new Inflation Reduction Act, intended in part to combat climate change, includes significant help for the US nuclear energy industry. Among its provisions, the act makes some nuclear power plants eligible for new tax credits and supports R&D for planned next-generation reactors. Still, the nuclear industry faces larger challenges, Jessica Lovering and Suzanne Hobbs Baker argued in Issues. To gain broad public support, they wrote, the industry must significantly change how it operates, embracing “not just new technological pathways, but also a more democratic, inclusive approach to how it does business.”
KEEP UP WITH ISSUES
This is your last chance to receive the Summer 2022 edition of Issues!  (The first issue for new subscribers in September will be the Fall edition.) The Summer issue explores the role of theory in science, a prehistory of social media, the science of mentoring, and much more. Plus: peaches!

Subscribers receive a year’s worth of insights into today’s most essential topics—all at 50% off the cover price.
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Header photo by Helen Ngoc N.
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Issues in Science and Technology is a publication of Arizona State University and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Copyright © 2022 Issues in Science and Technology, All rights reserved.


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