This class is about the nature and experience of human differences. One of the most fundamental characteristics of biological organisms is that individuals differ from one another in a variety of ways. Recognition of the nature and importance of those differences was one of the key insights Charles Darwin provided in his ―Origin of Species‖, and understanding variation is essential to understanding the evolutionary history of life on the planet. In humans, variation in certain physical characteristics has been the basis for creating the classifications historically called ―races‖; those racial divisions have also been associated with a wide array of inequities and injustices, from the distribution of wealth and opportunities to genocide. Dr. David Boose Gonzaga University For a full version of the syllabus, view the PDF version.
Current and historical cases are used to examine the political, ethical, and other social dimensions of the life sciences. Close examination of developments in the life sciences can lead to questions about the social influences shaping scientists’’’’ work or its application. This, in turn, can lead to new questions and alternative approaches for educators, biologists, health professionals, and concerned citizens. Dr. Peter Taylor University of Massachusetts Boston View Syllabus
“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 Social Issues in Biology