At the end of each unit, I like you guys to reflect on what we’ve learned. For Module 1, we’ll focus on human genomics and ethical problems with our growing knowledge about genetics.
As our understanding of genomics grows, it is becoming increasingly possible to learn about the details of your own genetic code or undergo genetic screening to help diagnose inherited medical conditions. Such capabilities also give us the theoretical opportunity to have “designer babies,” whether by selecting embryos with preferred traits or through genetic engineering. Is this any different than the type of selection promoted by eugenics movements?
Review the assigned readings focusing on natural selection, adaptation, and human variation, in Explorations and my lectures.
Watch the uploaded NOVA/PBS Documentary Cracking Your Genetic Code
Read this article on the history of Eugenics in Indiana, and this ScIU blog post on “Science, Eugenics, and Twitter (Links to an external site.)”
Do some research to find two additional recent articles published in an edited journal, magazine, or newspaper that describe recent examples of deliberate selection for (or against) inherited traits among humans, in the U.S. or elsewhere.
Write an essay (~1000 word essay + bibliography) that evaluates the pros and cons of such examples of human selection within the broader context of your understanding of human variation and natural selection.
In the essay you should:
First: Define historical eugenics and modern genomics methods: do you think genomics today is a lot like eugenics referred to in the Stern article, or are the two different from each other? If they are different, how so?
Second: Take a position: where would you draw the line on the rights of parents to choose the traits of their offspring, and why?
Support your argument with specific examples, and include a bibliography in either APA or MLA style—depending on what your field typically uses—with in-text citations to each source of information you refer to in your essay, including the assigned class readings. In particular, we want to see you demonstrate your understanding of specific genetic principles as described in your textbook, and relate them to topics of everyday importance.
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