Pomona Physics Hosts Mandatory “Decolonizing Physics” Event for Third Year in a Row

On Wednesday, December 11, the Physics and Astronomy Department at Pomona College, an elite liberal arts college in Claremont CA, hosted an event titled “Decolonizing Physics.” The event page on social media is described as “A symposium by students in Introductory Astronomy and Foundations of Modern Physics,” where students are required as part of their coursework to present projects related to “decolonization,” “microaggressions, implicit bias and other topics.” 

The event was hosted for the third year in a row by Professors Janice Hudgings and Jorge Moreno, both of the Physics and Astronomy Department. The Independent has previously reached out to Moreno, asking how this type of event helps further students’ understanding of physics, how physics is “colonized,” and furthermore what “decolonizing” entails. Moreno failed to respond to any of the questions. One Pomona student who took an astronomy class also previously told the Independent that Moreno requested “folks with white or male privilege should be quiet and give others space so that they feel comfortable enough to talk and ask questions.” 

The class Foundations of Modern Physics, taught by Hudgings with course number PHYS101, is a core requirement for students who wish to be physics majors; producing a project for the event “Decolonizing Physics” is a requirement for this class. As a result, any Pomona students who wish to graduate with a Physics major have to partake in the event.

The other class for which the event is a requirement, Introductory Astronomy (ASTR001) —taught by Moreno—is an introductory Astronomy course at Pomona. Neither of the classes’ course descriptions mentions this requirement.

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