Speculative Fiction and the Ethics of Medical Research

Stefanie Carter-Dodson, Language Arts, Southwest Middle School

Final Unit (PDF)  Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)


This unit uses fiction as a vehicle for instruction in both discrete reading skills
and a rigorous examination of themes applicable to ethics in medical research. Using
Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, students will consider the relationship between
medical research and human test subjects. Connections will be drawn between Keyes’
fictional portrayal of exploitative medical research conducted on an intellectually
disabled, socio-economically disadvantaged man and the true-to-life examples that mirror
this scenario. Students will engage in a study of thematic parallels between this narrative
and, North Carolina’s eugenics program, and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.