“Dystopian DNA?: Public Education, Genetics, and the Popular Imagination.”

A new modality of racism and classism connected to genetics is emerging, one that challenges the possibilities and necessities of equitable education and naturalizes inequalities and borders. This symposium explores the threats and possibilities that historical and emerging biosocial sciences pose to equitable public education, particularly in relation to race and class. Panelists critically engage with Science-informed arguments in education, mapping the hold historical and new knowledge continue to have on the imaginations of educators and educational institutions. This session explores how biosocial scientific research provides multiple conceptualizations of social inequality – particularly as it relates to race and ethnicity – and shapes understandings of structures of oppression that inhibit the most marginalized students from receiving equitable quality public education.

This is a post to encourage folks to head on over to AERA on April 14th 2018 and attend a symposium I’ve put together titled “Dystopian DNA?: Public Education, Genetics, and the Popular Imagination.” Above is the abstract for the session. My presentation is of a draft of a paper I’ve been working on title: “DNA Dreams”: Behavior Genetics and the Re-inscription of Bio-determinism in Education

Abstract: Behavior genetics argues intelligence and educational attainment are highly heritable (genetically influenced) and polygenic (influenced by many genes) traits. Researchers in this field have moved beyond identifying whether and how much genes influence a given outcome to trying to pinpoint the genetic markers that help predict them. In more recent years, behavior genetics research and biosocial arguments have attempted to cross-over into the field of education, looking to play a role in the construction of policy and the implementation of curriculum. This paper explores the threats and ethical dilemmas behavior genetics research poses to equitable public education with particular regard to the ways in which it might shape approaches to and understandings of racial and socioeconomic disparities in the US education system. It seeks to answer: How might behavior genetics research shift conceptualizations of and approaches to social inequality and inform oppressive structures that inhibit the most marginalized students from receiving equitable quality education?

I’ll be joined by Oliver Rollins (University of Pennsylvania) and Claire Crawford (University of Birmingham); we’ll be chaired by Prudence Carter. Each of us looking at the interface between science, race, and racism.  Check out https://www.aera.net/ for more information on the program for this year’s conference.

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