I do not know if this happens to a lot of other students that are found at every transformation talk at their university, but I always get that “oh, so which department [it is assumed it is one within the Humanities Faculty] are you from” question during refreshments, and it is usually because I asked a question to the researcher after the presentation.
The reaction to my answer, “the Geology Department”, is always met with “oh, that’s strange, I thought you were in sociology or something, science students do not really care about social issues”. Which makes me wonder how the natural sciences students became notorious for being indifferent of the world we live in despite our work being meant to fulfill a role in that very world.
My involvement in projects about social issues is not out of interest, it is out of necessity as I am living in a world that categorises human beings, and what we have access to is affected by the limiting categories that we are arbitrarily placed in. Our categories, whether raced, classed, gendered, etc., affect all spheres of our lives right down to whether we can survive a drought comfortably or not. The reality of sustainable and equal water access is the motivation behind my chosen degree.
Because I think it is important [and because I want to get less confused faces when I say I study hydrogeology] I have added a groundwater basics video to this blog so you may see where my work fits in to solving some problems and how you are affected. You will see from the video that it is impossible to be active in my field without considering the social issues that the people I aim to serve face. I am very happy that I am finally figuring out how to use science meaningfully to assert positive change.