Federally-Funded Project Aims to Teach ‘Inclusive’ Biology

The National Science Foundation is providing grants to three institutions to teach “inclusive” biology courses.

The University of Minnesota, Colorado State University, and Florida International University have received government funding to develop curricula about the “diversity of sexes found across species, the role of the environment in sex determination, and the complex relationship between sex and gender can create a more inclusive environment for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming (TNG) students in undergraduate biology courses.”

According to the abstract of the award, “[B]iology courses often inaccurately categorize sex and gender as binary.”

“The oversimplification of sex and gender into binary categories can make biology classrooms particularly challenging for TNG students.”

“This project will also help all biology students develop inclusive and scientifically accurate understandings of sex and gender,” the abstract adds. “Finally, this work will positively impact the career competencies of all biology majors who will need skills and knowledge to work with diverse patients, stakeholders, and teams.”

Some of the goals of the project are to “explore how sex and gender are currently represented in the undergraduate biology content,” “describe the impact this content has on classroom climate and belonging for TNG students,” and “characterize the current efforts of biology instructors to create a more inclusive climate for TNG students.”

The program is “guided by master narrative theory,” which “deciphers how messages in the cultural environment become internalized and impact the development of personal identity.”

The estimated end date for the grants is August 31, 2025. By that time, Florida International University will have received $205,063.00, the University of Minnesota $387,605.00, and Colorado State University $313,026.00.