Exploring the Future: NSPN and ESEP Co-Host Virtual Happy Hour About Afrofuturism

Several science policy enthusiasts have gained new knowledge and connections through an online event centered on Afrofuturism.

On August 29, 2020, NSPN and the Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP) Coalition teamed up to host their fifth monthly virtual science policy happy hour. The event brought together about fifteen members and friends of both groups to discuss media with an Afrofuturism spin.

According to Wikipedia, “Afrofuturism addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through technoculture and science fiction, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning black futures that stem from Afrodiasporic experiences.”

To help attendees prepare for the event, NSPN compiled a list of books, films, television shows, comics, art pieces, and music, as well as resources to learn more about Afrofuturism as a whole. Attendees chose two media categories to study in preparation for group discussions.

After a short introduction, attendees split into breakout groups to discuss the genres they chose to study before the event. Guiding questions about standout moments and cultural perceptions served as starting points for the discussion, but attendees quickly branched off into their own chosen topics such as media representation and power imbalance.

Overall, we hope attendees walked away from the event with a broader understanding of Afrofuturism and its media influences. “I came into this event not knowing a lot about Afrofuturism, but I learned so much in preparation,” said Sindhu Nathan, the new organizer of the NSPN-ESEP virtual happy hours. “I’ve followed new artists on my social media and have several new books I want to read. I hope that everyone who participated was able to learn something about how technology has intersected with the Black experience and feels inspired to learn more!”

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NSPN is grateful to Afroscope for permission to use the piece “Spirit Of The Earth, Friend Of The Sun” in our marketing for this event. For more information about future NSPN-ESEP virtual happy hours, stay tuned on our event page. To learn more about NSPN’s Next Steps to Support Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, read more on our blog.

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