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Scholars Strategy Network's No Jargon

No Jargon, the Scholars Strategy Network’s monthly podcast, presents interviews with top university scholars on the politics, policy problems, and social issues facing the nation. Powerful research, intriguing perspectives -- and no jargon. Find show notes and plain-language research briefs on hundreds of topics at www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/nojargon. New episodes released once a month.
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Now displaying: 2023
Dec 5, 2023

Since the emergence of ChatGPT in late 2022, new artificial intelligence models have captured the attention and fascination of the world. Some Americans are still acquainting themselves with the tools while for others, these models are already becoming an essential part of their workplace. Professor Jim Samuel explained what generative AI is, how it functions, and its ethical concerns. Importantly, Professor Samuel laid out why AI tools like ChatGPT require more transparency and regulation–and what that should look like. 

For more on this topic:

Read Samuel’s SSN policy brief: The Critical Need for Transparency and Regulation Amidst the Rise of Powerful Artificial Intelligence Models

Read his other SSN brief: A Call for Proactive Policies for Informatics and Artificial Intelligence Technologies.

Nov 7, 2023

While news over Britney Spears’s 13-year conservatorship turned what was a largely unfamiliar term into one most Americans now know, involuntary care over adults with certain types of disabilities or severe mental illness is nothing new in the United States. In fact, the contentious battle between civil rights and health care needs goes back decades. Professor Alex V. Barnard explained the history of conservatorships in the state of California, examined the government’s role in overseeing involuntary care, and proposed ways the conservatorship system can be improved for those it seeks to help.

For more on this topic:

Check out Barnard’s recently published book, Conservatorship: Inside California’s System of Coercion and Care for Mental Illness

Read his OpEd on this topic: California needs new rules as it forces more mentally ill people into treatment.

Oct 3, 2023

With abortion bans passing in states all over the country since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, women experiencing miscarriages have been turned away from hospitals because doctors deemed that they weren’t in enough clear danger to receive abortion care. Meanwhile, many women experiencing fibromyalgia continue to have their social security disability claims denied because they are not able to provide concrete evidence that their condition severely disrupts their quality of life. According to Professor Dara Purvis, what links these two examples is that many doctors do not believe women who say they are in pain. She explained the role that courts can play on this issue and laid out what needs to happen so women’s pain does not continue to be ignored. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Purvis’s OpEd: All the Ways Alito’s Opinion Might Criminalize Pregnancy 

Read her law review journal article: Clinical Evidence as Gendered: Fibromyalgia Social Security Disability Claims

Sep 6, 2023

According to a recent, federal report, while racial diversity is at an all time high in the K-12 public school system, racial inequality and segregation on school campuses persists, and continues to increase. Professor Erica Frankenberg broke down what racial segregation has looked like for marginalized students over the past few decades, what needs to be done to combat ongoing segregation, and how the recent Supreme Court decision on college admissions directly impacts this pressing issue. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Frankenberg’s recent OpEd, co-written with Genevieve Siegel-Hawley: Social Science Explains Why K-12 Integration Efforts Should Continue.

Read her paper, co-written by Jongyeon Ee, Jennifer B. Ayscue, and Gary Orfield: Harming Our Common Future: America’s Segregated Schools 65 Years After Brown.

Aug 14, 2023

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) was signed into law almost one year ago, but Americans are still learning how this giant legislative package impacts them. With provisions targeting different sectors of the economy, the IRA has focused most prominently on clean energy investments, prescription drug pricing, and funding for the IRS. And to learn what research can tell us about these major provisions, we spoke to experts who study each of these issue areas. Professor Matto Mildenberger took on the climate provisions, Professor Soumitra Bhuyan discussed health care, and Vanessa Williamson analyzed the increase in IRS funding. Enjoy this jam-packed special edition of No Jargon to celebrate 250 episodes!

For more of Matto Mildenberger’s work:

Check out his book Carbon Captured: How Business and Labor Control Climate Politics.

For more of Soumitra Bhuyan’s work:

Read his paper, co-written by Shiyanbola O, Deka P, Isehunwa OO, Chandak A, Huang S, Wang Y, Bhatt J, Ning L, Lin WJ, and Wyant D: The role of gender in cost-related medication nonadherence among patients with diabetes

For more of Vanessa Williamson’s work:

Read her book, Read My Lips: Why Americans are Proud to Pay Their Taxes

Jun 6, 2023

In an annual report, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that over half a million Americans were experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2022. According to Professor Megan Welsh Carroll, racial discrimination, criminalization, and of course, the high cost of housing all contribute to this growing crisis. And while progress is being made, many critical public services remain out of reach for this group, including one that has led to serious public health issues: a lack of public restrooms. As the director of San Diego State University’s Project for Sanitation Justice, Welsh Carroll explained what her team is doing to combat this specific problem in San Diego and how their work can serve as a model in other parts of the country. 

For more on this topic:

Read Welsh Carroll’s OpEd in the Los Angeles Times: California cities don’t have enough public bathrooms. Here’s one solution

Read her SSN policy brief, co-authored by Jennifer Kate Felner and Jerel Pasion Calzo: Increasing Access to Public Bathrooms is Critical for San Diegans’ Health 

Read her policy brief on the criminalization of the unhoused: Why Cities Must End Their Reliance on Police to Manage Homelessness – and How They Can Do it

May 2, 2023

2023 marks 50 years since the beginning of mass incarceration in 1973, when the U.S. prison population started increasing every single year for nearly four decades, according to Professor Nazgol Ghandnoosh. Ghandnoosh, who works for The Sentencing Project, shared some sobering numbers: today, over five million people are under supervision by the criminal legal system, and nearly two million people, disproportionately Black, are living in prisons. During this conversation, she delved into the different costs of incarceration – both on the incarcerated and on our society – and highlighted efforts needed to bring down our prison population. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Ghandnoosh’s brief for the Sentencing Project, Ending 50 Years of Mass Incarceration: Urgent Reform Needed to Protect Future Generations

Read her report on racial disparities in the prison system: Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System

Apr 4, 2023

In states across the country, a flurry of new laws are being considered, and often passed, that specifically target transgender individuals – from bills that bar access to gender-affirming healthcare for youth to legislation that bans transgender people from competing in athletics. Professor Zein Murib shared where things stand, why transgender people have become the focus of so much legislative activity, and what these laws mean for the future of the LGBTQ+ movement and American society as a whole. 

For more on this topic:

Mar 7, 2023

Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Americans may at times feel as though they’re invisible. An estimated 3 million of them live in the U.S. yet have no box to mark their identities on government forms, such as the Census, and other surveys. Professor Neda Maghbouleh, who has spent years studying the exclusion faced by MENA Americans, laid out how the misrepresentation of their race impacts their lives. She explained what steps need to be taken to increase visibility for those who fall in the MENA category as well as what changes are already underway – thanks to efforts by Magbouleh and her colleagues René D. Flores and Ariela Schachter

For more on this topic:

Check out Neda Maghbouleh’s OpEd in Newsweek, coauthored by René D. Flores and Ariela Schachter: 5 Years After Muslim Ban, Middle Eastern and North African Americans Remain Hidden.

Read an interview with Maghbouleh conducted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: Why a MENA Category Matters.

Feb 7, 2023

In the American school system, math and science are considered essential building blocks of a good education. But for many students, those building blocks can topple over somewhere along the way. We spoke to Professor Lara Perez-Felkner, who laid out invisible barriers faced by racially minoritized and economically disadvantaged students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Perez-Felkner discussed ways that school administrators, policymakers, and families can come together to remove these barriers and increase opportunity –  all the way from kindergarten classrooms to college laboratories. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Lara Perez-Felkner’s SSN brief: Transforming Opportunity to Support STEM Success for All

Read her paper, co-authored by Samantha Nix: Difficulty Orientations, Gender, and Race/Ethnicity: An Intersectional Analysis of Pathways to STEM Degrees

Jan 4, 2023

Gone are the days of file cabinets, wall calendars and phone books, as advances in technology have made storing information easier than ever. But given a slew of high-profile data breaches in recent years – both at governmental agencies and private companies – cybersecurity is quickly becoming one of the most pressing issues facing our country. How can our government better protect against increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks? And how might these data breaches impact the lives of everyday Americans? Professor Jeremy Straub answered these questions and more, emphasizing what needs to happen to prevent a truly catastrophic data breach – and what such a breach could mean for the world. 

For more on this topic:

Check out Jeremy Straub’s SSN brief: Cybersecurity Incidents Can Be Unwelcome Wakeup Calls for Unprepared Agencies.  

Read his paper: Defining, Evaluating, Preparing for and Responding to a Cyber Pearl Harbor.

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