An Evening with Shankar Vedantam

On April 3, 2014, Public City, in partnership with KERA and TEDxSMU, presented NPR Science Correspondent Shankar Vedantam for a public 60 minute-talk exploring the science of unconscious bias. In his talk, Shankar worked with the audience to experience – many for the first time – the effects of unconscious forces inside their heads. The series of highly engaging audiovisual exercises did more than tell people that unconscious biases exist – it showed them how bias works. 

In addition to the public lecture, Shankar appeared on KERA's award-winning Think radio program with host Krys Boyd, and conducted two small-group workshops for educators to dig into the impact of racial bias in the classroom. 

  • Some of the key take-aways from the series of programs included:
  • Close friendships with diverse individuals can counteract unconscious bias.
  • Small patterns of behavior can have huge ramifications for cities and communities (neighborhood graphic).
  • Project Implicit is a great coaching tool and can help individuals see their unconscious bias, but can’t be used as punishment or measurement.
  • We can implement formal systems (cohorts, affinity groups, etc.) to counteract the normal but limiting self-selection we see among school children (segregated lunchrooms although no one telling them to self-segregate).
  • Images and media – showing the counter argument to historically-held biases – work. Make sure our schools have images of strong academic leaders, scientists, etc., who reflect minority populations.