Josué Lopez, a 3rd-year Ph.D. student studying electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, shares his views on climate change and the relationship between science and ethics..
In this video, Josué explores the role of ethics and justice in relation to climate change. (0:45)
He examines the impact of the current political environment on engagement in climate issues within the student body at MIT.
Josué discusses the creation of a student forum at MIT which aims to connect students on issues involving the environment and social justice.
Finally, Josué questions the lack of ethics education for engineering students and proposes methods of developing ethics education within the sciences. (2:48)
[00:00:00:25] My name is Josue Lopez. I'm originally from Los Angeles, California. I'm a third year PhD student in computer science, working with [INAUDIBLE] in physics and just nanophotonic devices, either for LEDs, lasers, solar trapping-- anything that manipulates light for the next generation of technologies.
[00:00:24:08] I became a scientist, an engineer, because I wanted to work on the hardest problem that this generation faces, which is climate change. One of the issues I see now is that we're at a tipping point when it comes to climate change and the impact it could have on this generation and generations to come.
[00:00:48:05] Fossil Free MIT, working alongside the Black Student Union, the Black Graduate Student Association, is working on a forum on racial and environmental equity and justice. Because I think as an institute of technology, we have sometimes failed to confront both the ethics and justice issues when it comes to climate change and have even less touched the subject of how race comes into play. Considering the political environment, it's February 2017. I think a lot of people have gotten engaged and realized that they can't let the political process just continue. And they need to be involved to make a difference. So I think the silver lining in all this is that a lot of students are engaged. Also, in particular, graduate students are engaged. And that's one of the hopes that I have-- that student groups are learning to collaborate and really touch at the core issues at MIT. And that's one of the things that the forum is trying to do-- build a coalition of student groups that are thinking a little bit more strategically, know a little bit more holistically about what issues touch society.
[00:01:59:05] I would like to see a forum at MIT that continues on the legacy we're trying to build now when it comes to environment and women's issues, or the environment and global north versus global south. Continue to touch on these important themes and important intersections between environment and other issues because we won't be able to touch all the issues with this forum. And furthermore, create a template for other universities to start collaborating a bit more. So hopefully, maybe a year or two from now, MIT and Harvard and BU will be holding coordinated events and bringing this to the consciousness of the Boston and New England region.
[00:02:50:20] As an engineer scientist, I have never been trained or taken a course on ethics, like a semester-long ethics course. And I think that shows how we've missed the mark as an engineering community-- not only MIT-- on touching the issues of ethics. So I think one things that MIT can really do is push an initiative for technical institutes, for the most prestigious universities, to start building infrastructure both within the institution and also ways of educating their students on issues of ethics and justice.
[00:03:29:18] We tackle the hardest problems that society has to face. We think about these things. And if we don't address them within MIT amongst our peers that we could influence, we have no hope in influencing the rest of the world. I think it makes us uncomfortable to think that ourselves, our colleagues, our institutions themselves, can act in an unethical way, even unintentionally. And I think that scares us. So we have to take that responsibility head-on. And I think now's the time to do it.