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Examining Medical and Scientific Racism Using the Story of Henrietta Lacks

By Melissa Haswell

Davenport University

This is a semester-long project in which students read and discuss the story of Henrietta Lacks from multiple ethical perspectives. This project was developed for an undergraduate science ethics course but could be adapted to other biology courses.

Listed in Teaching Materials

Version 1.0 - published on 22 Jul 2021 doi:10.25334/QBEH-8376 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Description

Professional science and science education associations, as well as medical associations, across the country, have committed to creating a more inclusive and equitable space in science. This includes scientists and science educators who are representative of the national population. This assignment is part of a science ethics course based on an anti-racist, decolonized, and equitable framework.  My goal is to help future scientists examine what it really means to be an ethical scientist.  For example, students evaluate the role of scientists in environmental justice scenarios, policy-making, and working with populations who have been marginalized and harmed by science in the past.  The project presented is a semester-long project in which students read and discuss the story of Henrietta Lacks from multiple ethical perspectives.  Students then apply this knowledge to an in-depth analysis of either a medical myth attributed to marginalized populations or a racist/discriminatory event related to science or medicine.  The paper and presentation that culminate from this analysis is their final assessment for the semester.

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