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Feds Spent Over $900k Studying Feminist Glaciers And Medieval Smells

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The Obama administration spent more than $900,000 on two studies looking at feminist identity in glaciers and recreating medieval smells, according to a report on wasteful spending by Sen. James Lankford.

Lankford’s wastebook is a continuation of attempts by senators to document billions in frivolous and unnecessary spending. The book highlighted 100 federal government projects it considered wasteful that totaled billions in unnecessary spending.

Federal agencies spent about $413,000 studying feminist identity in glaciers and another $495,000 recreating medieval smells in a museum. Taxpayer dollars were used to fund both projects.

The money for the glaciers was provided by The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the cash for medieval smells was provided by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The NSF receives an annual budget of about $7 billion dollars. The NEH requested a budget of $148 million in 2016, while the NEA got about $148 million the same year. The Institute of Museum and Library Services received about $230 million in 2016.

The feminist glacier study, by historian Dr. Mark Carey of the  University of Oregon and some student researchers, was financially supported by a five-year long NSF grant. Carey has received $709,125 in total grants from the federal NSF.

“Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions,” reads Carey’s abstract. The research was published in the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Human Geography in January.

The study shocked many academics and real scientists, several of whom initially believed the study was a work of satire. When Carey was questioned by a reporter about this level of spending, he stated that the general public wasn’t educated enough to comprehend the importance of his research.

“Most existing glaciological research – and hence discourse and discussions about cryospheric change – stems from information produced by men, about men, with manly characteristics, and within masculinist discourses,” Carey wrote. “These characteristics apply to scientific disciplines beyond glaciology; there is an explicit need to uncover the role of women in the history of science and technology, while also exposing processes for excluding women from science and technology.”

The medieval smells funding paid for an art museum exhibit which has not yet been opened to the public. The exhibit will house “130 works of art focusing upon the senses created from the 12th to 16th centuries.” The exhibit will be opened for 85 days.

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