New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

High School Science Textbooks Increasingly Link Race to Genetics, NYU Sociologist Finds

December 15, 2008
n-195, 2008-09

High school biology textbooks over the past 15 years have given newfound attention to race, with attention centering on genetic definitions of racial categories rather than previous phenotypical, or appearance-based, models, according to a study by New York University’s Ann Morning, an assistant professor of sociology. But, Morning found, contemporary biology textbooks provide less evidence for their genetic treatment of race than their predecessors did.

“Today’s textbooks have redefined race as genetic without furnishing empirical evidence for this framing, in sharp contrast to the copious explanations and illustrations that were used to support the earlier phenotypic model of race,” Morning explained.

The study, “Reconstructing Race in Science and Society,” appeared in “Exploring Genetics and Social Structure,” a special issue of the American Journal of Sociology.

Morning’s research, the first to examine what American high school science teaches students about race, sampled 80 biology textbooks published between 1952 and 2002. Her findings revealed that after decades of declining attention to the subject of race, textbooks published since the early 1990s have shown renewed interest in it.

“The textbooks’ transformation sheds light on the broader relationship between race and science in the United States, where claims about racial difference have not only drawn instrumentally and selectively from empirical research, but at times forgo scientific grounding altogether,” Morning added. “As decades of post-World War II textbooks show, race is not a one-time construct or relic of centuries past, surviving only through cultural and institutional inertia. Instead, it is continually remade-and is being reworked today.”

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Graduate School of Arts and Science, Research

Type: Press Release


Search News



NYU In the News

Entrepreneurship Lab Opens at NYU

Crain’s New York Business covered the opening of the Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurial eLab, which will be the headquarters for NYU’s Entrepreneurial Institute and all of the University’s programs aimed at promoting innovation and startups.

A Globalizer for N.Y.U. in Abu Dhabi

The New York Times profiled Bill Bragin who will become the first executive artistic director of NYU Abu Dhabi’s new performing arts center.

Think Tank to Ponder a Future for Ballet

The New York Times profiled Jennifer Homans, the director of NYU’s new Center for Ballet and the Arts.

The Brilliant Ten: Jonathan Viventi Builds Devices That Decode Thoughts

Popular Science named Assistant Bioengineering Professor Jonathan Viventi as one of its “brilliant ten” for his research into brain implants that could one day halt epileptic episodes:

Living and Leaving the Dream: Adrian Cardenas’ Journey from the Major Leagues to College

The New York Times ran a feature on Adrian Cardenas, a former major league baseball player who is now studying philosophy and creating writing at NYU.

NYU Footer