Racial Inequities and Our Work
Dear BioInteractive community,
It’s a painful moment in our country as we and millions around the world continue to mourn the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others, and demand an end to our nation’s long history of state-sanctioned violence against Black people. We affirm that Black lives matter and recognize that communities of color are harmed every day by inequitable systems, unfair institutionalized power structures, and routine and systemic racism.
BioInteractive’s mission is to support your work as science educators. We acknowledge that we operate within educational systems that exclude people of color and are failing too many of our students and teachers. We also know that BioInteractive has not done nearly enough to help dismantle barriers and reform inequitable teaching practices and curricular materials. We must use this moment to prioritize and accelerate these efforts.
Starting now, we will:
- Increase the number of professional development workshops we offer to high school and college life science teachers that explicitly focus on resources and teaching practices to promote equity in the classroom.
- Broaden access to our workshops by offering them for free both online and in a variety of in-person settings, including through our existing partnerships with public school systems and other organizations.
- Increase the representation and highlight the scientific contributions and perspectives of Black, Indigenous, and other persons of color in our short films and other classroom resources.
- Produce a collection of classroom activities that address race and racism in the context of biology and biology research, which will be developed and field-tested in collaboration with classroom teachers, biologists, and social scientists.
- Provide ongoing anti-bias and anti-racism training for BioInteractive staff and Ambassadors.
As a program within HHMI’s Department of Science Education, BioInteractive will continue to work with our colleagues at HHMI toward increasing diversity and inclusion in both science and education.
“We must learn how we can do better and take steps to be actively anti-racist – this will help us identify and nurture the rich diversity of talent present in our society, which will in turn advance science.”--Erin O’Shea, HHMI president
BioInteractive depends on open dialogue with science educators in all aspects of our work. As we commit ourselves to ending the racism so deeply rooted in our education systems, and society as a whole, we would like to hear about your needs and your students’ needs.
Laura Bonetta, PhD
Managing Director, BioInteractive
Below is a list of some of the resources that our team is engaging with and may be useful for learning about systemic racism in education and discussing race in the classroom.
- Teaching While White
- Teaching in Higher Ed: Teaching as an Act of Social Justice and Equity
- This American Life: Three Miles
- Human Biology Education: Great Is Their Sin
- Scene on Radio: Seeing White for learning about the history of racism in the United States; Episode 8 is about science and racism in particular
Organizations that offer anti-racism training to educators:
- East Ed and Northwest Ed
- Courageous Conversation
- Borderland Rainbow Center: Anti-Racism Training
- Brown, Bryan A. Science in the City: Culturally Relevant STEM Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2019.
- Kay, Matthew R. Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, 2018.
- Brookfield, Stephen. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2017.
- Asai, D. “Race Matters.” Cell 181, 4 (2020): 754–757. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.03.044
- Dewsbury, B., and C. J. Brame. “Inclusive Teaching.” CBE—Life Sciences Education 18, 2 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.19-01-0021
- Dewsbury, B. “ The Soul of My Pedagogy.” Scientific American, Jan 23, 2018.
- Van der Valk, A., and A. Malley. “What’s My Complicity? Talking White Fragility With Robin DiAngelo.” Teaching Tolerance, Issue 62, Summer 2019.
- Donovan, B. M., et al. “Toward a more humane genetics education: Learning about the social and quantitative complexities of human genetic variation research could reduce racial bias in adolescent and adult populations.” Science Education 103, 3 (2019): 529–560. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21506
- Donovan, B. M. “Learned inequality: Racial labels in the biology curriculum can affect the development of racial prejudice.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 54, 3 (2017): 379–411. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.21370
- Graves, J. L. “Great Is Their Sin: Biological Determinism in the Age of Genomics.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 661, 1 (2015): 24–50. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716215586558
- Schinske, J. N., et al.” Scientist Spotlight Homework Assignments Shift Students’ Stereotypes of Scientists and Enhance Science Identity in a Diverse Introductory Science Class.” CBE—Life Sciences Education 15, 3 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.16-01-0002 (Also related, Scientists Spotlights Initiative.)
- Tanner, K. D. “Structure Matters: Twenty-One Teaching Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Cultivate Classroom Equity.” CBE—Life Sciences Education 12, 3 (2013): 322–331. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.13-06-0115