Reconciling Our Past, Reimagining Our Future: Disease and Discovery in America

Evie Elson, Science, Whitewater Middle

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


In this two-part unit, students will explore microbiology and biotechnology through an antiracist framework. This framework will allow students to critically analyze current affairs and contextualize scientific advancements with historical and present-day evidence. Part one introduces students to microbiology using COVID-19 as a case study to understand how a microbial organism such as a virus can lead to disease outbreaks in the form of a pandemic. Students will interrogate the ways in which disease outbreaks can disproportionately affect minority populations because of pre-existing societal inequities. Students will then advocate for change based on their research and brainstorm ways that public health measures can be addressed in the future. Part two introduces students to the pros and cons of biotechnology. The unit incorporates a historical lens through which to assess the way that biotechnology has advanced on account of the exploitation of people of color who do not reap the benefits of those discoveries. Students will imagine ways to invite more community-wide discussion so that all people can contribute and benefit from scientific advancement. By the conclusion of this two- part unit, students will have a deeper understanding of how they are impacted by the interconnectedness of science, and the social, political, and racial issues that pervade the US.