Imagine Otherwise: Meghnaa Tallapragada on Science in the Public Sphere

Imagine Otherwise: Meghnaa Tallapragada on Science in the Public Sphere

March 19, 2020
Meghnaa Tallapragada on a balcony, wearing a black sweater and red and purple scarf

It’s commonplace to hear claims that in our current historical moment science has become politicized, as climate crises, vaccines, and genetic modification get hotly debated in rapid-fire news cycles. But as today’s guest Meghnaa Tallapragada reminds us, science has always been inherently political, reflecting shifting racial, gender, and national ideologies and serving diverse interests.

In episode 107 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast, host Cathy Hannabach chats with science communication studies professor Meghnaa Tallapragada about how interdisciplinarity is crucial to effective public engagement, how colorism shapes public marketing discourses on a transnational scale, how we can use lessons from our creative pursuits in our work lives without feeling like every hobby needs to become research, and why building a world where all can be seen and heard is how Meghnaa imagines otherwise.

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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Meghnaa’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).

Guest: Meghnaa Tallapragada

Meghnaa Tallapragada is an assistant professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at Temple University.

At the crux of her research is the question of how communication can address issues of privilege. Toward this end, Meghnaa has concentrated on helping science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) communities become more accessible and inclusive.

One of her current projects is Something Very Fishy, a collaborative effort with an evolutionary behavioral ecologists and a theatre production company to combine musical theatre with hands-on science exhibits focused on ocean conservation and climate change targeting elementary school children and their teachers. 

More recently, she has started exploring issues of colorism and related communication solutions to fight it in Project Colorism. She is dedicated to exploring how people experience colorism, the level of agency they feel about addressing colorism, and the strategies they have built to shield their self-worth from colorist expressions.

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