Associate Professor of Art History Susan Jarosi is the co-principal investigator of a four-person team recently awarded a National Science Foundation Research Coordination Networks in Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE) Incubator grant to fund a project titled “Creating a More Inclusive Biology Curriculum.”
With the goal of making biology education more inclusive for all students, the project addresses systemic gender inequities in biology education that are reinforced through representations of sex and gender in the biology curriculum.
“Our collaborative project assembles an interdisciplinary network of 17 researchers, from 15 institutions, who will contribute their diverse expertise — in gender and sexuality studies, endocrinology, ecology, feminist science studies, evolutionary biology, genetics, LGBT education, immunology, and neuroscience,” said Jarosi.
She noted that “the network will be one of the first efforts in biology to expand education research specifically into curriculum reform with the aim of increasing inclusion, particularly for gender inclusion that encompasses gender diverse students.”
As an art historian, Jarosi may seem like an unusual principal investigator for an NSF-funded biology project. She was invited to be a member of the steering committee based on her expertise in the visual representation of gender. Her responsibilities on the research team will assess how visual images in biology textbooks participate in reinforcing gender essentialism and binary constructions of gender. Assistant Professor of Biology Rhea Datta ws also invited to take part in this research network.
Work on the year-long grant will begin this winter, with three primary endeavors: identifying content in biology courses that perpetuates gender essentialist beliefs, collecting existing resources for developing curricula that do not reinforce gender essentialism, and determining directions for future work and developing guidelines to help instructors create and assess the effectiveness of curricula for teaching these topics. The group’s work will be available through Open Science Network.
Other members of the steering committee are from Florida International University and Colorado State University.