Science Literacy and Underserved Populations

Date & Time

Wed, 01/04/2012
5:30PM – 7:30PM


Exploring Ethics: Science Literacy and Underserved Populations (Video)

The Art of Science Education in the 21st Century (Op-Ed)


When Deborah Lacks tried to learn about her late mother’s HeLa cell line, her only educational option was a Google search, and the results terrified her.

“She found a range of information – scientific reports, conspiracy theories, and downright silliness,” said Grossmont College professor Tate Hurvitz, “and she had very little capacity to distinguish one from another.”

Hurvitz was the featured speaker at the fifth forum in the “Exploring Ethics Henrietta Lacks” series. His January 4 presentation on “Science Literacy and Underserved Populations” examined the root causes of the worsening rate of science literacy in the United States.

At present, the United States has dropped to 21st place in global rankings of national science literacy. Part of the problem, Hurvitz said, is “a culture of specialization” in U.S. education where “science teachers are not trained to teach reading and reading instructors typically don’t know science.” Too many students struggle in both areas because they have not learned how to learn in any area.

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Tate Hurvitz
Grossmont College

Dr. Hurvitz teaches English Composition in several learning communities (including links with Science and Mathematics), in Grossmont College’s interdisciplinary program, Project Success. He serves on the California Learning Communities Consortium (CLCC) leadership counsel. He is active at the regional level with Cal-PASS, collaborating with faculty from San Diego area university and high-school campuses to design and implement curriculum. These projects work to improve alignment among regional high schools, community colleges, and four-year universities. He is a Project Director at the San Diego Center for Ethics in Science and Technology, coordinating its writing group which contributes opinion/editorial pieces about current science and technology issues for local news outlets. He also enjoys ocean swimming when there have been no recent shark sightings.