Addressing Racisms and Anti-Racisms in Science and Teacher Education Research

Co-Investigators: Ng-A-Fook, N., & Ibrahim, A., & Labelle, P., & Lewis, L., & McGuire-Adams, T.

Research Team:

Duration: 2023-2024

Funding: Social Science and Humanities Research Council and Genomics Canada Knowledge Synthesis Grant



According to the World Economic Forum’s (2022) Global Risk Report over the next 10 years, climate action failure, extreme weather, biodiversity loss, social cohesion erosion, and livelihood crises were listed as the top 5 most severe risks on a global scale (World Economic Forum, 2022). During the global pandemic, different forms of racisms, discrimination, and hate crimes—antisemitism, anti-Indigenous, anti-Black, anti-Asian, anti-Islamophobia, and other forms—are on the rise (Statistics Canada, 2020; Passiufume, 2022). COVID-19 has reminded us that genomic technologies remain an invaluable tool for researchers to understand the genetic makeup of COVID-19 in terms of its origin, genomic diversity, and evolution. Meanwhile, the availability of genomic information enables the rapid development of not only vaccines, but also diagnostics and therapeutics that were impossible only 20 years ago when the Human Genome Project concluded (Saravanan et al., 2022). And yet genomics, has a troubled and pernicious history, with origins inextricably entwined with the invention of “race” and which still shadows today’s science (Green, 2021; Mohsen, 2020). Today, although scientists’ understandings of “race” is a social construct, studies in major research journals continue to claim racial categories as biological variables (Gannon, 2016). By some measures, the use of race as a biological category has increased in the so-called postgenomic age (Chow-White and Green, 2013). This is problematic for both the advancement of genomics as a body of knowledge and harmful for people and future learners. Opportunities for science teachers and students to learn about the social and cultural dimensions of genomics remain limited (Gouvea, 2022). Worse, there is evidence that typical teaching may foster problematic beliefs by omitting critical attention to how the genomics education intersects with ideas about race and racism (e.g., Morning, 2008; Donovan, 2014).


The objectives of our scoping review are to: (a) identify the types of available Francophone and Anglophone research on genomics and antiracist education approaches for addressing its different concepts in teacher education and K-12 science education; (b) identify promising antiracist education strategies; (c) identify gaps in the existing teacher education research literature to propose future research directions; and (d) create an Anglophone and Francophone educational resource for science teacher educators and/or teachers to use in the classroom. Our proposed objectives respond to the themes: 1) Uncertain, divided world; 2) Identities, privileges, and opportunities, and 3) Sense making. Methodology: Our study will examine the emerging tensions or gaps in relation to how Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and anti-racisms are being taken up (or not) within the broader field of genomics education, educational research, and implications for teacher education. Our diverse interdisciplinary team of experts draws on Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) 5 steps to carry out our scoping review of the existing research. We will draw on an antiracist education framework to analyze and synthesize these bodies of literature (Shah et. al., 2022).

Social Benefit

Our findings will have implications for addressing the presence and/or absence of certain racisms and antiracist educational strategies in science and social science curriculum policy and textbooks. We will share our findings via webinars, podcasts, and professional learning workshops for different educational stakeholders. Our study promises to provide interdisciplinary insights into more diverse, equitable, and inclusive professional practices and policies for individuals, systems, and our larger Canadian society.

* This project is supported by Social Science and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant and Genomics Canada Knowledge Synthesis Grant with Ng-A-Fook, N., & Ibrahim, A., & Labelle, P., & Lewis, L., & McGuire-Adams, T. as co-applicants. Click here to view more SSHRC funded projects.