Magazine Feature

Toolkit for “Just Science”

This toolkit accompanies the article “Just Science,” and provides a classroom resource to help students probe deeper to discover the social and ethical implications of topics in science.  

Science can often be taught as an objective subject, in which there are facts, correct answers and few gray areas. In reality, ethical and social justices issues are present in many scientific questions and processes. As “Just Science” shows, by probing deeper and asking the who, what, where and how questions, students often can discover a hidden social-justice curriculum within the traditional science lesson.

Below are some additional topics to help your students looks at the intersection of ethics, social justice and science. Each topic includes a list of guiding questions for further research.


The Use of Human Subjects in Medical Research

  1. What patterns, if any, emerge when you look at medical research across racial lines? class lines? Insured versus uninsured people? Young people versus older people?
  2. Are there any risks involved in being part of a medical trial?
  3. Looking at medical research from a historical perspective, have there been cases of people being used in medical research projects without their consent?
  4. What was the Tuskegee Experiment? What lessons can be learned from that episode in U.S. medical history?
  5. Are human subjects in medical research compensated? If so, how?


The Rising Rates of Childhood Obesity

  1. What are some of the main causes of the rise in childhood obesity?
  2. Do differences exist in the rates of childhood obesity across different racial communities? Across class lines? Across geographical areas of the country?
  3. How does childhood obesity affect a person’s long-term health?
  4. What are some ways to reduce childhood obesity?
  5. What are some challenges to implementing policies to reduce childhood obesity?


The Development of IQ Tests

  1. Who created the first IQ test?
  2. What are IQ tests supposed to measure?
  3. What is the eugenics movement and how is it related to IQ tests?
  4. How are IQ tests used today?
  5. What are some criticisms of IQ tests and other standardized tests?


The Environment, Climate Change and Racism

  1. What patterns, if any, appear when you look at where landfills or other potentially dangerous environmental toxins are located? Are the patterns based on race and/or class?
  2. How can prolonged exposure to air- or water-based toxins affect a person’s health?
  3. What do scientists think is the relationship between extreme weather conditions, such as droughts and hurricanes, and climate change?
  4. From a global perspective, which communities or countries are experiencing the greatest effects of climate change?


Science’s Role in the Social Construction of Race

  1. When did racial categories first emerge?
  2. How were biologists or other scientists involved in creating racial categories?
  3. How have racial categories changed over time in the United States?
  4. Is there a scientific basis for racial categories? 
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Learning for Justice in the South

When it comes to investing in racial justice in education, we believe that the South is the best place to start. If you’re an educator, parent or caregiver, or community member living and working in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana or Mississippi, we’ll mail you a free introductory package of our resources when you join our community and subscribe to our magazine.

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