Pre-College Programs
Summer@Brown

« Return to Course Catalog

Race, Gender, and Medicine: Considering the Ethical Dilemma of Involuntary Experimental Research on Society and the Individual

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

View related courses »

Course Description

1. Provide students with the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and reasoning skills, as we consider the implications influencing certain racial and ethnic groups' historical mistrust of the medical field.

2. Promote a better understanding of alternative factors impacting race relations (medical science) and to facilitate a forum in which to discuss how organizational and societal beliefs contributed facilitated the notion that racialized experimentation was an acceptable approach to science and discovery.

3. Create a platform for students to discuss and weigh the ethical implications of prior experimental research on disenfranchised groups--research that has brought about remarkable innovations in science and those that serve as an ugly reminder of a racially discriminatory past-- in order for students to discover their voice and realize their ability to make a positive contribution to humankind.

Historically, the relationship between African Americans and the institution of medicine has been drastically different compared to other racial groups, to the tone of historic exploitative experimentation and a lack of trust of the medical industry. Drawing on numerous racialized experimentation abuse incidents, we can explore how scientific thought and the dominant gaze on black bodies solidified the acceptance of racial experimentation as an acceptable practice. These events include surgical experimentation on slaves, forced sterilization, exposure to radiation and syphilis, and the cloning of Henrietta Lack’s cells for future research and profit. These medical events have come to shape our lives, as they have resulted in medical advancements at the expense of individuals basic human rights. In this course, we will learn how to think sociologically about the intersections of gender, race, class, and medicine. We will begin by examining how historic ideologies about race have influenced the practice of medicine on patients without their knowledge. We will continue to explore how medical research has utilized race and sex as justification for involuntary medical experimentation, as well as how medicine constitutes and acts on racial and gendered bodies. Students will be charged with considering what role ethics and consent has and should play within the context of medical advances derived from racialized experimentation.

Students will be able to:

1. Understand the social and cultural dimensions of science and how science has privileged certain communities.

2. Explain the positive and negative implications of racialized research and be able to identify the ethical dilemmas or racialized experimental research (then and now).

2.Critically evaluate and analyze the significance of biological determinism in debates about social inequality and identify how racialized experimentation reinforced the system of social inequality.

-No prior knowledge expected
-Open to juniors and seniors
-No age restrictions

youtube instagram