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Chris Emdin, Hip-Hop, and the Remix of Science Education

Dr. Chris Emdin

In the spring of 2006, Beacon Press and Simmons College inaugurated a lecture and book series that we hoped would reinvigorate a crucial national public conversation on Race, Education, and Democracy. Each year, the series brings to Boston prominent public figures to deliver a series of lectures that will become the basis of a new trade book published by Beacon. Other titles in the series include On the Same Track: How Schools Can Join the Twenty-First-Century Struggle against Resegregation by Carol Corbett Burris, Another Kind of Public Education: Race, Schools, the Media, and Democratic Possibilities by Patricia Hill Collins, and Can We Talk about Race?: And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation by Beverly Daniel Tatum.

Few educators embody that mission more than this year's lecturer, Dr. Chris Emdin, recently honored by the White House as an African American STEM Champion of Change. Dr. Emdin's research focuses on issues of race, class, and diversity in urban science classrooms, and the use of new theoretical frameworks to transform education and urban school reform. A self-proclaimed member of the hip-hop generation, Emdin seeks to popularize the notion that the genius of hip-hop is compatible with science genius. In partnership with GZA (Gary Grice), a member of the Wu-Tang Clan whose love of science is well known, he developed the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. In a pilot project, students wrote rap songs that captured the complexity of the science and lyricism of hip-hop, and, in a final competition at Columbia University, students’ performances of these rap songs were judged by a panel of scientists and hip hop artists. 

That kind a innovative approach to science education has made Dr. Emdin a highly sought-after social critic, public intellectual, and science advocate whose commentary on issues of race, culture, inequality, and education have appeared in dozens of influential periodicals including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. He has also made numerous appearances on the TED stage and elsewhere, pushing his model of Reality Pedagogy:


Dr. Emdin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Columbia University's Teachers College, where he also serves as Director of Science Education at the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education. He is also currently a Caperton Fellow and Hip-Hop Archive Fellow at the WEB DuBois Institute at Harvard University, and the author of Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation.

We hope you will join us in returning public education to the center of American public life and bringing discussions about critical educational issues to the public domain, engaging Americans from many different backgrounds in thoughtful and complicated conversations.


March 29: From Rap Battles to Science B.A.T.T.L.E.S: Toward a Grounded Theory of Practice for Science Hip-Hop Education
10:00 am-12:00 pm., Cambridge Public Library, The Lecture Hall, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA

March 29: Hip-Hop and STEM Education: Possibilities, Problematics and Research
1:00 pm-3:00 pm., Cambridge Public Library, The Lecture Hall, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA

April 01: Reality Pedagogy: Teaching & Learning from the Student’s Standpoint
4:30-6:30 pm., Simmons College, Kotzen Center, 300 The Fenway, Boston, MA

Register here to attendAll lectures are free and open to the public. 

The 2014 lectures are funded in part by the Lowell Institute, and co-sponsored by the Cambridge Public School System. Please note that the first two lectures will be held on Saturday, March 29, 2014. The last lecture will be held on Tuesday, April 01, 2014 in the Kotzen Center.