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Rice University offers 'Afrochemistry' course to address 'inequities in chemistry' and 'understand black life'
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Rice University offers 'Afrochemistry' course to address 'inequities in chemistry' and 'understand black life'

Rice University is offering a course specifically to address black chemistry and chemical education while promising to touch on "inequities" in the scientific field.

Rice, the more than 120-year-old university in Houston, Texas, lists CHEM 125 001 "Afrochemistry" on its course catalog for the 2024 spring semester.

The full title of the course was listed as "Afrochemistry: The Study of Black-Life Matter." It has nine students enrolled at the time of this publication (out of a possible 15).

The course is available to undergraduates and has the following description:

"Students will apply chemical tools and analysis to understand Black life in the U.S. and students will implement African American sensibilities to analyze chemistry. Diverse historical and contemporary scientists, intellectuals, and chemical discoveries will inform personal reflections and proposals for addressing inequities in chemistry and chemical education."

In addition to the alleged black-centric science, the description also noted that the course is accessible to "students from a variety of backgrounds including STEM and non-STEM disciplines."

"No prior knowledge of chemistry or African American studies is required for engagement in this course."

There is no final exam for the course, either.

As noted by the Daily Caller, the course was specifically referenced by renowned theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss in the Wall Street Journal.

Krauss cited the class as an example of scientific courses that offer obscure, postmodern theories.

"Today postmodern cultural theory is being infused into the very institutions one might expect to be scientific gatekeepers."

Krauss then recalled a sarcastic, nonsensical article he had read in 1996 that was meant to mock social commentary that had been injected into the sciences. Unfortunately the article became

"[Today] hard-science journals publish the same sort of bunk with no hint of irony," he added.

After listing "Afrochemistry," Krauss explained that while many of these ideas haven't "totally colonized" scientific journals, they are "beginning to appear almost everywhere and are getting support and encouragement from the scientific establishment."

Other examples cited by Krauss included "Observing whiteness in introductory physics: A case study" and a class in "Chemistry on Feminism and Science as a Tool to Disrupt the Dysconscious Racism in STEM."

Krauss further explained that "dissent isn’t welcome" in some cases. An example given was a 2021 case from Mount Royal University in Canada, where a tenured professor was fired for questioning whether indigenous “star knowledge” should be in the curriculum for astronomy.

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