Associate Professor Pomona College Claremont, California, United States
Jane Liu (Pomona College)| Rou-Jia Sung (Carleton College)
A strategy for addressing racism and promoting social justice was incorporated into an undergraduate biochemistry curriculum. The impetus for this change was to demonstrate solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and to support students traditionally excluded from STEM because of their ethnicity or race. At the same time, we hypothesized that inclusion of the theme, Racism is a Public Health Emergency, would make the material more relevant to students, without negatively impacting content coverage and learning. In the Fall 2020 semester, students engaged in seven activities related to the anti-racism overlay, spaced over the course of the semester. While 95% of the students in the course had previously encountered discussions about equity in previous classes, only one of them indicated that the material was covered in a chemistry course. The majority of the students (81%), moreover, agreed or strongly agreed that the inclusion of the anti-racism overlay made the course material more relevant to them. In addition, analysis of answers to final exam questions suggests student achievement of learning outcomes remained similar to previous iterations of the course. The activities detailed here, therefore, addresses an important need in biochemistry curricula to incorporate issues of social justice and could be adapted to a variety of other related fields.