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First-Year Seminar (101-6-22)


DNA & society - Possibilities & pitfalls


Christopher W Kuzawa
1810 Hinman Ave., Room #A63, EV Campus

Meeting Info

ANTHRO Sem Rm 104 - 1810 Hinmn: Tues, Thurs 12:30PM - 1:50PM

Overview of class

Recent advances in genetic analysis have opened up new opportunities to examine how genes influence our health and our potential, and to investigate our family roots. Although these are revolutionary advances, the scientific implications of genetic research are not always as straightforward as press releases and media coverage imply; and in some domains genetic research raises thorny new ethical and other societal questions. In this discussion-based seminar, we will critically read several recent books that tackle various dimensions of the social lives of our DNA, augmented by additional scientific, popular and journalistic readings. We will address questions that sit at the interface of genetics and society, such as: How do our genes really influence our health? What are the problems with the concept of genetic race, and why do scientists who study race describe race as a social construct? How do new genetic approaches help us dig deeper into our ancestries, and what are the societal and ethical implications of those approaches? Readings for this class will not require specialist knowledge of biology or genetics, but will benefit from a curiosity about science and a willingness to engage in critical analysis and discussion.

Teaching Method


Evaluation Method

Writing exercises, in-class discussion, presentations

Class Materials (Required)

Required materials will be provided

Class Attributes

WCAS First-Year Seminar

Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Requirements: Reserved for First Year & Sophomore only