Upon its release, Cards Against Humanity revolutionized the tame world of party games by not only allowing — but essentially encouraging — players to be offensive. Untrue to its name, Cards Against Humanity has been helping humanity by providing college scholarships for young women.
Launched earlier this year, the Science Ambassador Scholarship, which is co-sponsored by the Scientista Foundation, covers the entire undergraduate tuition of one lucky applicant who is studying science, technology, engineering or math. In April, Cards Against Humanity promised a full ride scholarship to Sona Dadhania, who is majoring in materials science and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.
Cards Against Humanity is about to award another scholarship. College and high school students have until December 11th, 2016 to submit a three minute video explaining a scientific topic they’re passionate about — Dadhania explained nanotechnology in her video. Entrants are judged by over 60 women working professionally in science, including representatives from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Harvard Medical School, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Army and Corps of Engineers.
“We’re accepting video applications because we want to raise visibility of women in science,” board member Veronica Berns, postdoctoral Fellow in Chemical Education at Northwestern University, said in a press release from Cards Against Humanity. “Production value isn’t a factor in these videos. We’re looking for passionate, creative students who can break down a complicated scientific topic.”
The Science Ambassador Scholarship is funded through sales of Cards Against Humanity’s “Science Pack,” an expansion for the main game that costs $10. The company has raised nearly a million dollars.
That’s a lot of scholarships.
“We want to offer scholarships every year for as long as we possibly can — this issue is really important to us,” Jenn Bane, Cards Against Humanity’s community director, told me over email. “I’m thrilled that we have raised $969,840 with the sales of the Science Pack expansion so far. Right now we’re focused on funding a woman’s undergrad education so she can graduate debt-free and go on to be an ambassador for her field. Hopefully as soon as next year we’ll be set up to offer additional scholarships to more women, possibly even the top ten finalists.“
How is Cards Against Humanity played? Friends, preferably while drinking, sit around in a circle attempting to fill in the blank of a statement printed on a black card. A player does so by choosing one of many white cards in their hand. Many of the options for both the black cards and the white cards are too inappropriate to include in this article.
When I asked Bane what her favorite combination from the “Science Pack” was, she thankfully sent a response appropriate for this article.
“In what’s being hailed as a major breakthrough, scientists have synthesized BLANK in the lab,” reads one of the black cards in the “Science Pack” expansion.
At this point, if Bane presented this card to a group of friends, her friends might reply with: “White people,” “A spontaneous conga line,” “God,” or “Getting really worried about global warming for a few seconds.”
Bane would then choose her favorite combination, culminating in the following statement:
“In what’s being hailed as a major breakthrough, scientists have synthesized getting really worried about global warming for a few seconds in the lab.”
Imagine for a second the very worst words, phrases and ideas you can think of – things you would never utter aloud. These things likely exist within the decks of Cards Against Humanity. The game’s tag line — “A party game for horrible people” — is pretty accurate.
(Full disclosure: I bought Cards Against Humanity for my mother. She enjoys playing it quite a bit.)
How does a company go from making “a party game for horrible people” to creating a scholarship?
“A lot of us at Cards Against Humanity have backgrounds in science and tech, and the underrepresentation of women in these fields is staggering,” Bane said in a press release. “Ask a kid to draw a scientist, they’ll draw a man in a lab coat, because science and math are historically male-dominated fields. Cards Against Humanity has a large audience, so with the Science Ambassador Scholarship we hope to help change the public perception of what a scientist looks like.”