Christopher Emdin

Associate Professor of Science Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

Biography

Fall 2013: Caperton and Hiphop Archive Fellow

S.T.E.M. with no root bears no fruit: Colloquial appropriations of canonical science in contemporary hip-hop

Project Description

S.T.E.M. with no root bears no fruit: Colloquial appropriations of canonical science in contemporary hip-hop

This project explores the ways that hip-hop culture -particularly the words, phrases, and expressions of its cultural ambassadors (hip-hop artists), displays an interest in, admiration for, and in some cases, deep knowledge of science that goes unnoticed by those who are not deeply immersed in both black popular culture and the nature of science. In this project, I conduct an excavation of science themes within contemporary urban black popular music and culture, and explore the ways that these themes can be used to bridge the divides between “non academic” hip-hop language/cultural understandings and canonical academic science.

This exploration is a significant piece of an upcoming book titled, STEM With No Root Bears no Fruit, that illustrates the need to focus on the contemporary urban black experience as a key to developing a new cadre of STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) experts. In particular, I focus on the colloquial use of scientific terms, expressions, and concepts within black popular music and frame them as a conduit to opening up new realms of possibilities for youth who are often relegated to the margins in the selection and preparation of future STEM professionals.

In the upcoming book, I argue that there is a profound sense making of scientific phenomena and best practice for teaching STEM subjects that exists within hip-hop that must be brought to the fore in order to create culturally responsive curricula in the STEM disciplines. In other words, creating a new cadre of STEM professionals requires going beneath surface and inaccurate representations of blackness and into the complex scientific and pedagogical knowledge showcased within hip-hop culture.

 

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