This course applies the tools of anthropology to examine biology in the age of genomics, biotechnological enterprise, biodiversity conservation, pharmaceutical bioprospecting, and synthetic biology. It examines such social concerns such as bioterrorism, genetic modification, and cloning. It offers an anthropological inquiry into how the substances and explanations of biology—ecological, organismic, cellular, molecular, genetic, informatic—are changing. It examines such artifacts as cell lines, biodiversity databases, and artificial life models, and using primary sources in biology, social studies of the life sciences, and literary and cinematic materials, and asks how we might answer Erwin Schrodinger’s 1944 question, “What Is Life?” today.
In 1883, Sir Francis Galton, a nineteenth-century English social scientist, statistician, and psychologist, coined the term “eugenics” from the Greek word eugenes, meaning well-born. The practice of eugenics aims to improve the genetic quality of a human population through selective breeding—encouraging reproduction for the “strongest” humans while discouraging reproduction for the “weakest” humans. Cultural, social, and scientific ideas of the late nineteenth-century informed how eugenicists identified desirable and undesirable genetic traits. According to these eugenicists, the “strongest” humans were typically white (from northern and western Europe), healthy, and wealthy. The “weakest” humans were typically non-white (or white from southern and eastern Europe), poor, physically or mentally disabled, or considered criminally or sexually “deviant.”
A History Of The Holocaust: A Guide For The Community College Student: The Second Edition.
In "Anthem", by Ayn Rand, Equality speaks of the Home of Eugenics in which males and females of his dystopian society must report to at the appropriate age. To help students better understand the ethical issues with eugenics, they will interact with this informational article from the Huffington Post. This article will allow students to discuss and learn about the issues of eugenics in their own back yard.
Within this unit, I will take a three level design that is planned to make these courses more relevant to students and promote questions that interrogate the authority of statistics that students will encounter throughout the course and in their lives.
The skill of interrogating statistics is crucial for all adults in our society to become thinking consumers and users of data. In addition, it is important to deconstruct data to see implicit ideas of domination and subjugation that travel through numbers that can appear nuetral. Statistics shares a creation story with the field of Eugenics. Francis Galton, a mathematician who contributed many of the major ideas to statistics was also one of the originators of eugenics. The influence of eugenic thinking in statistics drives a notion of superiority, fitness and ranking alongside measurements. Milton Reynolds describes this in Shifting Frames:,” The term “eugenics” refers to a scientifically based, ideological movement dedicated to the reiification of race. It is the wellspring of scientific theories used to construct taxonomies of difference within the human family and to legitimize the subjugation of different groups.”.1 Statistics often does the work of justifying this subjugation through its “innocent” and authoritative work as a logical system. These embedded assumptions of superiority are validated by the seeming neutrality of mathematical calculations. The “taxonomies of difference” he describes are invalid and biased assumptions about difference that dominate our interpretations of data, however they appear as factual products legitimized by math.
CRISPR-Cas9 is a gene-editing technology with potential to expand the agricultural industry and improve human health. However, this technology may have unforeseeable consequences and adverse effects for society. Statistical procedures are often used to study public perceptions of controversial technologies. In this unit plan, students will design and administer surveys to investigate how their peers feel about various applications of gene-editing technology. In the process, students will apply random sampling methods and learn how to minimize response bias. Once their surveys are completed, students will analyze the results using contingency tables, confidence intervals, and hypothesis tests. The ultimate goal of this unit will be to help students to create clear policies for regulating the use of CRISPR-Cas9 and defend these policies with their statistical findings.