Second Write2Know Campaign Launches 28/09


Write2Know for University Educators

Do you teach university-level courses related to the environment and health? Civics and science? Do you need concrete and empirical examples of the links between science, citizenship, and politics for your students? Are you passionate about the role of education in democracy and social change?

Involve your students in the Write2Know campaign this fall! This letter-writing campaign gives students the tools they need to ask federal scientists questions about research in the public interest. Students can also sign pre-written Write2Know letters posing questions to federal scientists and ministers about the health of our bodies, communities, and environments.  Students can learn about the relationship between science, politics, the environment and human health. And with the federal election underway, Write2know gets students involved in civic life.

Use Write2Know into your classroom to:

  1. Discuss health and/or environmental issues relevant to your course and the broader Canadian and international contexts. Topics include: Marine plasticsclimate changeresource extraction, nuclear waste, endocrine disruptors, and more.
  2. Explore the role of the federal government in monitoring the health and well-being of Canadians, and disseminating research in the public interest. What is the relationship between knowledge and governance? What kinds of access to information do we require for a healthy democracy?
  3. Learn about the recent history of censoring federal scientists and destruction of scientific data in Canada.
  4. Discuss the role of public interest research and public access to federally funded research on environmental and human health.
  5. Sign a Write2know letter addressed to federal scientists and ministers, or develop your own questions for a federal scientist. A “How To Guide” for developing new questions is provided on the Write2Know website.

The Write2Know website offers a suite of resources for classroom teaching, including:

  • Videos and articles that contextualize the issue of science and citizenship in Canada
  • A How to Guide for writing your own letters
  • Informative slides to accompany your lecture (Single SlideMultiple Slides)
  • Links to access the directory of federal scientists and their specialties
  • Sample Write2know letters
  • Media coverage about federal science and scientists in Canada

Write2Know week runs September 28-October 2, when a concentrated push for letters will be made. However, you can write or sign letters before or after this period.

For more about the Write2Know campaign and to learn more about us, and our partners, see our website.

Want to share your ideas, classroom activities, and resources? We’d love to hear from you and share your ideas with other educators. Write to us at

Weekly Roundup

The catch is this – the person must be skinny and preferably small” This Facebook post recruited the all-female team of spelunking anthropologists who recovered the fossils of new species Homo naledi and had to be able to fit a 7-inch-wide passage in the Rising Star cave in South Africa.

There are plenty of mature themes in Rebecca Skloot’s bestselling The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: medical ethics, ownership and commercialization of body tissue, informed consent, and racial dimensions of medicine. A Tennessee parent, however, is concerned about what she perceives as different mature themes.

Amyloid-beta proteins, associated with Alzheimer’s disease, were discovered in the brains of deceased Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients who had been treated with injections of human growth hormone as children. Following multiple “Is Alzheimer’s contagious?” headlines, the original study’s authors try to assuage those worries with a helpful FAQ.

National Geographic is now mainly owned by 21st Century Fox and will lose its nonprofit status. Some are concerned about commercial interests interfering with the magazine’s scientific mission, as Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch has expressed climate change-denying views.

Ridley Scott’s new film The Martian, based on Andy Weir’s bestselling e-book, contains realistic, NASA-approved science and buoys the hopes of technically-minded space fans everywhere.…

Weekly Roundup


We’ve been on vacation for what seems like forever, but the Bubble Chamber’s Weekly Roundup is back. We plan to keep you updated on the most important (and quirky) science, policy, and HPS news throughout the year. Enjoy!

The Open Science Collaboration’s paper in Science investigating reproducibility in psychology made headlines when research teams could only replicate 39% of the original studies’ effects. Brian Nosek and other lead authors discussed the paper and answered questions in a reddit AMA, emphasizing the importance of transparency and shared data. In the latest Atlantic, Bourree Lam has a great primer on retraction and replication issues plaguing the sciences, while Christie Aschwanden at FiveTirtyEight argues that science isn’t broken; it’s just hard, examining p-hacking and the pressure to publish.

While policymakers boost STEM, whither the humanities? Adding creativity and insight for tech apps, according to Forbes’ profile Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack Technologies with a MA in philosophy and the history of science.

Environment Canada scientist and folk singer Tony Turner was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of his Harperman protest song, reigniting the debate over the government muzzling of scientists. A nationwide sing-along is planned for Sept. 17th, and there’s a petition demanding Turner’s reinstatement.

…the unfortunate paradox is that while Greenland’s climate appears to be changing rapidly and garnering the world’s attention, the conditions in which many Greenlanders and other Arctic peoples live could not change rapidly enough.” Anthropologist Hunter Snyder at Nat Geo makes a case for broadening our research interests in the Arctic.

In a summer of conversations about scientists and professors’ appearance, with #Ilooklikeanengineer, #Ilooklikeaprofessor, and #distractinglysexy rallying discussions of diversity, appearance-based bias, and privilege, less well-known blog Sartorial Science celebrates fashion-minded scientists, fighting the notion being a good dresser makes you not serious enough for science. And with Mad Art Lab’s Scientist Paper Dolls, you can dress your favourite thinkers however you like.

“Don’t open that door!” Michael Greshko at Science 2.0 explores new research on how suspenseful movies influence visual attention and why we can’t look away.…