Neuroscience & Society Curriculum

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Curriculum Overview
What does it mean to be human? How might emerging brain science change the answer? The applications of neuroscience have far-reaching implications for our self-identity, health, relationships, and social systems. As we imagine a just, inclusive, and responsive future in which neuroscience benefits everyone, this curriculum aims to engage young people today in dialogue about how these discoveries and emerging technologies will shape their tomorrow.

Overarching Themes
The Neuroscience & Society high school curriculum offers an in-depth focus on neuroscience through the lens of relevant societal issues, designed to be appropriate for grades 10-12. Key themes include:

  • The brain and nervous system underlie all human behavior.
  • The brain is always changing.
  • Neuroscience informs individual decisions about personal health and wellness.
  • Many spheres of human life will be transformed by neuroscience in the coming decades.
  • Our understanding of the brain is still incomplete and rapidly evolving.

Launch Lesson (required)
Unit 1: Neurons & Anatomy (required)
Unit 2: Education & Development
Unit 3: Current Methods in Neuroscience
Unit 4: Mental Health & Well-being
Unit 5: Substance Use & Addiction
Unit 6: Law & Criminology
Unit 7: Future Technologies

How to Use the Curriculum

The Launch Lesson and Unit 1 on Neurons & Anatomy are required to be completed first, as an introduction to the curriculum and the basic biology of the brain. All other units are intentionally modular to provide flexibility. Each unit can stand alone, ready to be incorporated into an existing biology, psychology, or other course. Individual activities can also be incorporated into your own lessons or mixed and matched based on your needs or interest. Alternatively, multiple units can be linked together to create a semester-long elective course; finding connections across units provides opportunities for additional depth and exploration. 

About the Curriculum

The Neuroscience & Society curriculum was originally developed in 2017 by The Franklin Institute and Center for Neuroscience & Society at the University of Pennsylvania through funding from the National Institutes of Health. The curriculum was updated by The Franklin Institute in 2023 to improve content, context, and usability through support from the Dana Foundation. The goal of the curriculum is to inspire students’ excitement about and increase students’ knowledge of neuroscience. 


Evaluation by the Goodman Research Group has shown that after exposure to Neuroscience & Society curriculum content, students demonstrated gains in both knowledge about and interest in neuroscience. Curriculum material was especially effective in engaging female students, students who were initially less interested in neuroscience, and students who were initially less interested in science in general. Students also self-reported gains in their likelihood of pursuing further knowledge about neuroscience. These outcomes demonstrate that the curriculum successfully provides a solid grounding in topics of neuroscience and society that sparks curiosity and excitement about future possibilities.

Alignment with Next Generation Science Standards

The “Neuroscience and Society” curriculum supports Next Generation Science Standards in the following areas. 

HS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes 

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas 
    • LS1.A: Structure and Function 
    • LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms 
  • Science & Engineering Practices 
    • Developing and Using Models 
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
  • Crosscutting Concepts 
    • Structure and Function 
    • Stability and Change
  • Connections to Nature of Science
    • Scientific Investigations Use a Variety of Methods
    • Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence
    • Scientific Knowledge is Open to Revision in Light of New Evidence 

HS-LS3 Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits 

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas 
    • LS3.A: Inheritance of Traits 
    • LS3.B: Variation of Traits 
  • Science & Engineering Practices 
    • Asking Questions and Defining Problems 
    • Analyzing and Interpreting Data 
    • Engaging in Argument from Evidence 
  • Crosscutting Concepts 
    • Cause and Effect 
    • Systems and System Models 
  • Connections to Nature of Science
    • Science is a Human Endeavor
    • Science Addresses Questions About the Natural and Material World

For more information about the Neuroscience & Society Curriculum, please contact

Neuroscience & Society Curriculum

Launch Lesson  •  Unit 1: Neurons and Anatomy  •  Unit 2: Education and Development  •  Unit 3: Current Methods in Neuroscience  •  Unit 4: Mental Health and Mental Health Conditions  •  Unit 5: Drugs and Addiction  •  Unit 6: Law and Criminology  •  Unit 7: Future Technologies 


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This project was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health Blueprint for Neuroscience Research under grant #R25DA033023 and additional funding from the Dana Foundation. Its content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIH or the Dana Foundation.