Towards a More Humane Genetics Education


The Humane Genetics Research Lab is exploring the role biology education can play in reversing two societal challenges: racist and sexist thinking. What have we learned through our growing line of research and development? Teaching about human difference is not socially neutral. And biology education affects the development of racist and sexist thinking among adolescents…for better or worse.

Early Insights

In our initial randomized controlled trials, we explored how biology curriculum affects the way students think about race. We discovered it can lead students to believe more strongly in three misconceptions: 

  • People of the same racial group are genetically uniform.
  • People of disparate races are categorically different.
  • Biologically-influenced abilities cannot change.

When biology education causes students to perceive too much genetic variation between racial groups, it can increase racial prejudice.

This is a big scary problem. 

So we’ve spent the last several years exploring what could be done in biology education to reverse prejudiced thinking among adolescents. 

Our work spans across three branches:


Humane Genetics

What role could biology education play in reducing prejudiced thinking?


Sex/Gender Disparities in STEM

What role could biology education play in addressing gender disparities in STEM?


Honoring the Complexity of Genetics

How does teaching students about the complexity of genetics influence their beliefs about the importance of genes in determining complex human traits?