Cancer Health Activism Network for Greater Equity (CHANGE) aims to increase Black and African American K-12 student motivation and interest in biosciences and health careers by developing and disseminating novel high school biology lessons that focus on cancer biology and cancer disparities with a social justice lens. High school biology teachers will participate in research internships to study cancer fundamentals and will work with a team of experts to develop lesson plans that connect biology standards with cancer biology and disparities research. We hypothesize that aligning cancer research with the Transformative Leadership framework will create equitable learning experiences for Black and African American students, motivating them to pursue bioscience careers.
The Cancer Health Activism Network for Greater Equity (CHANGE) project addresses inequities in education and health outcomes for African American students in biosciences by enhancing biology teachers’ cancer research and cancer health disparities knowledge and developing and implementing transformative, innovative, socially just biology lessons. The lessons will be refined over a series of Saturday workshops (CHANGE Academies) for students in schools that primarily serve Black and African American students in the Houston area. Additionally, locally and nationally, CHANGE will broadly disseminate these lessons through in-person and virtual professional developments (Health Disparities Institute for Teachers) for educators. The specific aims of this collaboration are to (i) increase teacher knowledge of both cancer biology and cancer health disparities and (ii) produce a novel high school biology curriculum on cancer biology and health disparities research grounded in the Transformative Leadership framework, and (iii) assess the impact of the CHANGE curriculum on student outcomes. The team that we have assembled includes the highest caliber of NIH-funded researchers, leaders in STEM teacher Professional Development (PD), experienced curriculum writers, leading bioethicists, and social scientists with expertise in racial disparities and inequities and large, diverse school districts. The PI and the research team have a track record of providing teacher PD that enhances and improves teachers’ science content knowledge, self-efficacy, and leadership, improving student outcomes. Rice University is an ideal location for this project because it is strategically located in the large and diverse city of Houston, Texas, and is adjacent to the Texas Medical Center (TMC), the largest medical complex in the world. These collaborations routinely occur between the TMC and Rice University. This proposal is responsive to the goals of the NIH SEPA program as it will focus on Research Experiences, Curriculum or Methods Development, and Outreach to increase Black and African American interest and motivation in biosciences fields. The outcomes of this project, including the curricular materials that will be developed, will advance current knowledge about effective social justice in high school education as we pursue educational and health equity to successfully promote a diverse bioscience workforce.