“Social Issues in Biology” is a small reading and discussion class with a maximum of 20 students. Using contemporary and historical examples, discussions examine the social, political and cultural factors that influence science and its presentation to the public. Cases are examined in which biological findings have been misused to influence social policy over such issues as race and gender. We discuss instances in which scientists have been passive in confronting misuse or misrepresentation of science or, alternatively, have been active in publicly exposing such misuses. Specific discussion topics are selected from: history, philosophy of science; evolution vs. creationism; genetics, gender and race; genetic testing; science journalism; genetics and criminality; science in wartime; scientists’ social responsibility; activism in science; theater and the public presentation of science.
Microbiology 213: Social Issues in Biology. Jon Beckwith, Roberto Kolter and others