Published: June 4, 2021

Here’s some CU news you can use: Celebrating Black women in science fiction and fantasy, the growing dangers of space debris, COVID vaccine concerns addressed and more. 

A whole new world: Celebrating Black women in science fiction and fantasy

What we learned:

  • In a genre dominated by white men, one sci-fi book changed Stephanie Toliver's life: Parable of the Sower stood out for having a main character who, like Toliver, was a Black woman.
  • Now an assistant professor in the School of Education, this scholar has dedicated much of her career to celebrating and sharing the existence of Black women in science fiction and fantasy.
  • More than any other literary genre perhaps, sci-fi and fantasy challenges readers to dream up new futures where people like them don’t just survive. They thrive. Toliver says, such works of fiction allow Black girls like her students to imagine new kinds of futures.

Crashing Chinese rocket highlights growing dangers of space debris

What we learned:

  • Earlier this month, a Chinese rocket booster, weighing nearly 23 tons, came rushing back to Earth after spending more than a week in space—the result of what some critics have attributed to poor planning by China.
  • We’re launching a lot more objects into space every year. How common is it for an object like this rocket booster to crash back down to Earth? 
  • Aerospace engineers at CU Boulder are researching technology that can tug on an object or make it stop tumbling.

Still hesitant to get the shot? 7 COVID vaccine concerns addressed

What we learned:

  • “The COVID-19 vaccine was developed too fast.” It may seem it was developed faster than usual, but never before has the entire world been working on the same group project at the same time.
  • “The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is new technology and it hasn’t been tested.” When you look at the number of people enrolled in previous vaccine trials, those numbers are miniscule compared to the clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • “I’m young and healthy so even if I get COVID-19 I’ll be fine.” Some research says at least 70% of the population must be vaccinated for things to return to normal. If you can get the vaccine, you should.

One year later: How George Floyd’s death changed us

What we learned:

  • In the wake of Floyd’s death, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” rose to a prominence it has never had before.
  • The United States’ vocabulary expanded to include “anti-racism,” a word to describe the attitude and acts of those actively engaged in dismantling systemic and institutional racism.
  • The public are now paying more attention to the overlapping issues of race, policing and the U.S. criminal justice system.
  • The use of video footage in a trial, as it was in Derek Chauvin’s trial, is nothing new. And the more we're seeing video, the more court systems need to think more carefully about the presentation of this evidence.

The history of camping: Inclusion, homelessness and protest culture

What we learned:

  • A CU Boulder professor’s new book takes a closer look at how camping taps into some of our core American beliefs about nature and citizenship, and why some forms of camping became mainstream over time and others became marginalized. 
  • Gradually, camping evolved from a functional, need-based action to an elite recreational activity for the upper class. 
  • Why do we tend to see homeless camps as visual and environmental burdens, but national park campgrounds as wholesome and patriotic landscapes? Why did national movements such as Occupy Wall Street result in less tolerance for the unhoused and unsheltered?