Due to overlapping subject matter between this course and Biology and Society (IDSEM-UG 1751), students will not receive credit for Genetics and Society if they have taken (or are taking) Biology and Society. Course meets first seven weeks, 9/2-10/26.
This seven-week course focuses on the recent developments in genetics and how they shape, and conversely are shaped by, society. Topics include three of the most important social aspects of genomic research over the past thirty years: genetic privacy, race and genomics, and the effects on gene patenting on research. Who has access to your genetic information? Can your genetic information be sold to big pharma if your name is removed from the sample?How has the patenting of human genes reshaped the conduct of scientific research? How are molecular biology and pharmaceutical and biotech firms simultaneously challenging and reifying notions of race in the age of biocapitalism? Can one’s race be identified at the level of the gene? If so, what are the socio-cultural implications? Indeed, if not, what are the consequences? This course aims at drawing attention to the ethical, legal, and social issues generated by molecular biology from the 1980s to the present. Readings will include works from historians of science Davis, Kevles and Jackson, sociologists and anthropologists of medicine, Duster, Fullwiley, Morning, Epstein, and the science reporter Wade.