BIOLOGY 144 - Decoding Your DNA: Implications for You and Society
Section: 001
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Biology (BIOLOGY)
Department: LSA Biology
Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Our DNA contains all the information we need to develop from a single cell into a hugely complicated human being. But how much of your “you-ness” is pre-determined by your DNA, the set of genes you received from your parents? How much do your experiences matter? Can we change our genes? And what are the implications if we do?

The beauty of cracking open the mysteries of our DNA is that it contains all the stories of our past, linking us to our ancestors, all the way to our species’ first beginnings, and some sidetracks to some other species somewhat less human. These stories have not remained the same over time, but have been rewritten and edited with each copy made. The story written in your DNA even changes during your lifetime.

Fueled by technological innovations, we are rapidly acquiring new knowledge regarding our genes. As a society, decisions are being made on how to use this information. But who makes these choices and what are the possible consequences? This course aims for non–science majors who will, like it or not, be affected by this knowledge revolution, to understand what the implications are of this new information and how it is used. We will also focus on what the implications are for the long-term trajectory of our species and society. From the impacts on the medical practice, which is moving towards human genome-based personalized medicine to ethical considerations regarding genetic discrimination, and from reflections regarding race and gender to the ways we can affect our fate by engineering the very genes that make you “you”.

Reading requirements include a very accessible book on human genes and a number of additional required readings from the popular scientific literature.

Course Requirements:

Group-based documentary will be prepared during the semester and presented the last week (30% of grade). This project will allow students to actively investigate the implications of knowing and using genetic information for today’s world of medicine, ethics, policy, art, law, anthropology, journalism, etc. In addition to the group project, the grade will be based on a mid-term (15%) and final exam (30%), and active participation, quizzes, and assignments (25%).

Intended Audience:

Students who may not focus on a career in science but are interested in the natural sciences, especially in exploring a multidisciplinary approach to current societal challenges.

Class Format:

Three hours of lectures per week. Lectures will also include discussion and exercises that will allow students to actively explore the covered topics.

BIOLOGY 144 - Decoding Your DNA: Implications for You and Society
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9781440567643
What's in your genes? : from the color of your eyes to the length of your life, a revealing look at your genetic traits, Author: Katie McKissick, creator of Beatrice the Biologist. 2014
ISBN: 9780262027373
Beyond versus : the struggle to understand the interaction of nature and nurture, Author: James Tabery. 2014
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