Life Science in Context: Sub-Saharan Africa and HIV/AIDS

John A. Mecham, Department of Biological Sciences, Meredith College

Erica Kosal, Department of Biology, North Carolina Wesleyan College

Dr. Pearl Fernades, Department of Biology, University of South Carolina Sumter

This SENCER model is an example of a successful inter-institutional collaboration that capitalized on regional networks and expertise to integrate HIV/AIDS into courses at three different institutions. At Meredith College Life Science in Context: Sub-Saharan Africa is an Honors Colloquium in bioscience that focuses on HIV/AIDS and nutrition. At North Carolina Wesleyan, East African Wildlife and Human Interactions is a biology course that explores interactions between wildlife and humans, including the question of how HIV crossed over from chimpanzees to humans. At the University of South Carolina, Sumter, the biology course Human Anatomy and Physiology is a lecture and lab course taken by all Biology and Nursing majors and covers the biology, statistics, testing, and transmission of HIV/AIDS.

This collaborative effort took shape under the direction of Dr. Pearl Fernandes, an active member of the research community studying HIV who provided faculty development workshops for the consortium participants that provided an overview of current research, in-class activities, hands-on laboratory experiments, and other teaching resources. To ensure that the science of HIV/AIDS was learned in a larger civic and social context of the sub-Sahara, consortium members worked with local and international experts, including faculty from collaborating peers from Duke University, Kenyatta University and Edgerton University (the latter two are Kenyan national universities). These faculty partnerships have led to guest speaking engagements at each another's institutions; videotaping of interviews taped in Africa for use in the classroom; presentations at professional meetings; and a planned future student symposium at Duke University. Support for this initiative was provided by a National Science Foundation Phase I CCLI-A&I Grant (DUE0510368), The Fulbright Scholar Program of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, and the Meredith College Office of Faculty Development.

Course Learning Goals for Instructors and Students

Learning Picture

Instructor Goals:

(Because each institution has a slightly different course, goals that are common to all three institutions are listed below. Please see the unified syllabus for more details on the specific course goals at the three institutions).

The Instructors will teach students to:

  • contextualize scientific knowledge through experiential, inquiry- based methods;
  • utilize technology to facilitate inter and intra-institutional collaboration between U.S. consortium and Kenyan students and researchers;
  • provide for civic engagement;
  • promote cultural and gender-based sensitivity and understanding;
  • encourage the development of skills that propagate continued interest in the sciences and in civic engagement;
  • examine how hypotheses are formulated and tested and ways that science moves from hypothesis to general acceptance of ideas, and that
    science advances by amendment;
  • differentiate among scientific models;
  • identify and locate sources of reliable science information for the general public
  • read and understand relevant articles;
  • use knowledge of science and art to construct reasoned arguments concerning a societal issue.

Student Goals:

Learning Picture 2

After taking this course students will:

  • understand the basic biology of viruses and teach it in the context of HIV: how HIV invades the human body and cell, its mode of replication, multiplication and transmission; evolution of HIV;
  • understand why finding a "cure" for AIDS is difficult;
  • explore drugs that target HIV;
  • study the statistics on HIV/AIDS on a global scale;
  • explore the societal issues involving women and minorities surrounding HIV/AIDS;
  • explore a topic more fully and design a lesson plan or write a paper to teach this topic to other students as well as present the material to the class;
  • develop and improve oral and written communication skills;
Learning Picture 3

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