I have been in Washington, D.C. with DukeEngage for almost two weeks now. I am interning at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), which has been great so far. Adjusting to the 9 to 5 work life has been tough, but having the support of new and old friends and our program/site directors has been really valuable in transitioning here. Here are some highlights so far:
- Visiting the National Mall with our program group
- Talking with a former congressman on climate change
- Cooking a pretty good chicken curry (my roommate approved) from my mom’s recipe
- Attending a briefing on The Hill
- Touring Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn, a contemporary and modern art museum
- Listening to jazz in the park on the way back from work
- Watching an acapella performance at the Kennedy Center
- Chatting about books and life with my supervisors
- And more to come!
Students in our DukeEngage cohort come from different science and/or policy backgrounds. So far, we have had lively discussions on environmental policy, gene editing, antibiotic resistance, technology, and more. Yesterday, our group watched an episode from the show Black Mirror about a future where certain classes of society have access to a memory implant called a “grain,” which records everything an individual does, sees, and hears. Users can play back their own memories at any time, in their eye or on a monitor. After watching, we talked about the class privileges and the various implications associated with this technology, ranging from criminal identification to social relationships. For example, can physically showing one’s point-of-view and experiences to another person using the “grain” eventually create a more empathetic society?
How can we actually use science and policy as tools for positive, effective, national- and community-driven change? To help families and children, especially those from vulnerable and underserved populations and regions?
This episode is one of many examples that shows how science can play a critical and complicated role in not only how policy and laws impact research and technology (and vice versa), but also in how science policy and laws affect individuals, communities, and relationships in society. So how can we actually use science and policy as tools for positive, effective, national- and community-driven change? To help families and children, especially those from vulnerable and underserved populations and regions?
I hope to explore these very intersections through my internship at CSSP this summer. My supervisors and co-workers have been really warm and welcoming, and even after my first week, I have already learned so much. I have had a few conversations with co-workers doing powerful work on topics such as child welfare policy, mental health and well-being, juvenile justice, and racial, gender and socioeconomic inequities. Through preliminary readings and research, I have started to dig a little deeper into the nuances of and connections between these issues. But as someone with a mostly science background, policy work and policy language is pretty new for me. During my internship, I want to learn more about how the policy world works while also weaving my interests in neuroscience, health, education, and psychology into my work at CSSP.
I think this summer in DC will give me opportunities to listen to and learn from others, and to explore the city and understand more about its history and current circumstances. In doing this, I hope to more intentionally reflect on my current and future role in using science to contribute to a more equitable and just society.