The latest LabXchange project is an interdisciplinary collaboration to advance education about racial equity in healthcare, education, and STEM fields. Supported by a $1.2M grant from the Amgen Foundation, LabXchange will amplify the work of top scholars in the field to bring you curricular materials focused on two learning clusters: Racism as a Public Health Crisis, and Inclusive and Antiracist Teaching Strategies. The project aims to challenge science learners, scientists, and educators to commit to ending racial inequity.
“As America convulses in anger, sadness, and frustration at the senseless killing of Black Americans, it serves to underline yet again the individual and societal costs of systemic racism. For some, it is easy to forget the persistent rhythm of racism and inequity that is so much a part of daily life for so many others. Undoubtedly, many have already done so. We must combat these cycles of collective numbing and actively engage the problem each and every day because this struggle is everyone’s struggle.”
COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on communities where people of color reside represents the latest example of inequity that makes racism a global public health crisis. This cluster will raise awareness of how and why racism is considered a public health crisis, and teach foundational concepts that allow learners to build critical thinking skills essential for understanding, identifying, and rectifying structural racism.
The Racism as a Public Health Crisis cluster is aimed at high school and college learners and the general public. Topics will include explorations into the historical formation of race, and the role of science, medicine, and public health in the formation of race. The cluster also includes case studies of various health disparities that increase our awareness of the structural drivers of disease.
For educators, the assets in the Racism as a Public Health Crisis cluster can be remixed into your own learning pathways, and used as part of a standard science curriculum. We want to challenge the perception that science is independent of social issues, and foster an interdisciplinary approach to understanding these issues that affect so many learners.
“What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans. As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation. Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community.” —Media Statement from CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, on Racism and Health
Americans of color, and specifically Black Americans, are underrepresented in STEM fields. In many ways, this is a failure of the education system. It is still founded on outdated practices that fail to address the many microaggressions, stereotypes, and other inequities that students of color face. How can we address the urgent need for teaching strategies that address these issues and support Black students as they pursue higher education? How can we remove barriers that prevent students from historically underrepresented and underserved communities from persisting in their education, and thriving in STEM?
The Inclusive and Antiracist Teaching Strategies cluster will empower educators with evidence-based teaching practices to foster students’ sense of belonging, identity, self-efficacy, and confidence in science. The cluster will include content on supporting and mentoring Black students and colleagues, antiracist teaching strategies, and inclusive teaching practices that you can use in your classroom immediately. It also explores ways to create an anticolonial curriculum and support diversity and representation in the STEM community.
“Unexamined biases in institutional culture can prevent diverse students from thriving and persisting in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Given the daily personal interactions that faculty have with students, we suggest that individual educators have the opportunity, and responsibility, to improve the retention and persistence of diverse students.” —Tess L. Killpack and Laverne C. Melón, Toward Inclusive STEM Classrooms: What Personal Role Do Faculty Play?, NCBI
Leading scholars in the fields of antiracism in education, science, and public health have joined forces with LabXchange to develop this new digital learning content.
The project is led by a steering committee of seven interdisciplinary experts. The Racism as a Public Health Crisis cluster is spearheaded by Dr. Bita Amani, Dr. Joseph L. Graves, Jr, Dr. Julia F. Hastings, and Dr. Frinny Polanco Walters. The Inclusive and Antiracist Teaching Strategies cluster is headed by Dr. Jamiella Brooks, Dr. Robert. T. Palmer, and Dr. Ivory A. Toldson. Here at LabXchange, we’re excited to learn from their combined academic scholarship as well as their practical experience in higher education.
The content will be researched and authored by 20 graduate student fellows. Most of these fellows are affiliated with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). They are collaborating with the technical and creative teams at LabXchange to produce assets that will be freely available and hosted on the platform.
We believe that a collective, integrative approach is essential to affect the meaningful change needed to rectify structural racism.
LabXchange, at Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, launched in January 2020. Supported by the Amgen Foundation, LabXchange is a free online science education platform that provides users with access to personalized instruction, virtual lab experiences, and networking opportunities across the global scientific community. The platform is purpose-built to drive more inclusion in the scientific process, empower students to pursue careers in science, and spark collaboration to build creative, team-based approaches to real-world problems.
We invite you to join us on our mission of removing barriers to success in science, and work with us to rectify racial inequities in our local and global communities.
Keep an eye out as new content becomes available through 2021 and 2022. Stay updated on our blog, sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on social media!
In the meantime, check out these collaborators that focus on similar goals: