WGSS Core Faculty Member Dr. Rajani Bhatia and Co-PI Anne Hendrixson Win NSF Grant

A composite with an image of Dr. Rajani Bhatia on the left, standing outside in a blazer with her arms crossed, and Anne Hendrixson on the right in the gray blazer smiling at the camera.
Dr. Rajani Bhatia, left, and Anne Hendrixson were awarded $419,917 from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Dr. Rajani Bhatia, Associate Professor of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $419,917 for the project "Re-presenting Population Science Data in the Context of Shifting Demographic Dynamics, Climate Change and Alternative Epistemologies," in collaboration with Co-PI Anne Hendrixson, Senior Policy Analyst for Challenging Population Control at Collective Power for Reproductive Justice. The proposed study will look at how population science is translated into popular notions of population trends in the United States. 

Messages about current population trends that appear in social, popular, news, and think tank media account for slowing birth rates, population aging, changing racial and ethnic population composition, and immigration rates among other data. The messages express anxieties about changes in population that contribute to climate change, a changing national electorate, or negative impacts on labor and economies. The study centers on data used to back Great Replacement conspiracy, which claims that elites are orchestrating mass immigration to replace white populations for political gain. Recent polls have documented the increasing popularization of these ideas in the US with as many as one-third of Americans who believe its premise.

The study will analyze the conspiracy and the science it misrepresents as well as debates among scientists who produce and use that data about its meaning. By convening a multi-disciplinary, cross-sector advisory board to provide expert feedback on project research and piloting resulting materials with students as end-users, the project will produce curricular materials for undergraduate classrooms and lead to a scholarly book. These outputs are intended to help scientists to address the use and misuse of scientific data and to counter population malinformation and increase public scientific literacy and awareness of conspiratorial interpretations of demographic trends. These teaching tools will be slated for use in university courses in multiple disciplines, as well as in non-profit workshops and trainings. The study will contribute to informed dialogue about what it means to be American in the context of the shifting racial, ethnic and age composition of the national population. 

Congratulations to Dr. Rajani Bhatia and Anne Hendrixson!