Science and Race, Part 1

The Biology and Sociology of Race

There are lots of online resources for teaching about race and its basis or lack thereof in biology. This is one topic that really does lie at the intersection of science and social science.

The motivation behind the sites described below is to de-couple skin color’s social meaning from its evolutionary purpose. For a popular science discussion of race and science to ground yourself, you might start with “What Science Says About Race and Genetics” (Time, 2014).

The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) site ScienceNetLinks provides a middle grades lesson plan entitled The Illusion of Race, which includes a teacher resource guide, Genetics, Human Migration, and the Sociology of Race.

AAAS also provides a lesson plan on skin color, Variation in Human Skin Color. As we noted above, it aims to distinguish the biological purpose of skin tone from its social meaning:

Skin color is an alterable characteristic that results from adaptation in a specific environment that has survival value for the organism and may then be perpetuated by the process of natural selection.

Focusing on the biological similarity that underlies skin-color variations should equip students to critically evaluate the improper use of differences in skin color to divide humans into distinct races.

An additional resource is PBS’s portal, Race: The power of an Illusion (c.2003), complete with background readings and resources. (If the links don’t work, try a different browser).

We’re curious to know: Are there other resources you recommend?

(Image: “Untitled, Geometric, Rectangled, Faces” The NY Public Library Digital Collections)

2 thoughts on “Science and Race, Part 1”

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