RCIDIV 302 - Advanced Issues in Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society
Section: 001 Genes and Society
Term: WN 2008
Subject: RC Interdivisional (RCIDIV)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

  • Are we our genes?
  • What is the relationship between nature and nurture?
  • How are genetic and reproductive technologies changing our world?
  • What kinds of ethical questions do genetics — plant, animal, and human — raise and how can might we answer them?

This course will explore these questions through interdisciplinary perspectives that include the history of science and medicine, the politics and sociology of genetics, literary and filmic representations of genetic research and organisms, and bioethics. Students will come away from this course with broader knowledge of the complex interaction between genes and society and with analytical tools to think critically about issues such as genetic determinism and privatized eugenics in contemporary society. Some background in biology or the natural sciences is recommended.

Week 1 – Introduction and navigating nature/nurture
Week 2 – Discovering and Identifying Genes: From Darwin to Mendel
Week 3 – A Natural Alliance: Genetics and Eugenics
Week 4 – Histories of Eugenics: from Michigan to Mexico (a global tour)
Week 5 – “Seeing” DNA and Counting Chromosomes
Week 6 – The Development of Genetic Tests and Genetic Counseling
Week 7 – Human Genome Project: Defining Humanness and Whose Genome?
Week 8 – Winter Break
Week 9 – Race, Ancestry, and Genetics
Week 10 – Gay Genes?
Week 12 – Neo-eugenics: Designer Babies and Biotech Enhancement
Week 13 – Why Americans are (mostly) happy to eat GMOs
Week 14 – Group Presentations
Week 15 – Group Presentations

Readings: will include a mixture of secondary books and articles, primary sources (some accessible scientific articles), newspaper clips, novels, documentaries, and movies.

Assignments: will include a take mid-term (with a list of questions to choose from), a final original paper (8-10 pages), and group presentations on a chosen topic related to genes and society. Students will also compile a “DNA diary” of their family histories, clippings from relevant articles, prose or poetry, and so on.

RCIDIV 302 - Advanced Issues in Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 11:00AM - 12:30PM
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