COLL-E 105 12245 Good Genes, Bad Genes: A Look at Human Heredity and Society (Hanratty) (N&M) (3 cr.)

9:30 AM 10:45 AM TR

Have you ever wondered why you have red hair and freckles; why heart disease or cancer seem to "run" in certain families; whether we will eventually be able to use gene therapy to cure genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia, or what impact this explosion of genetic engineering may have upon our society? These are some of the issues we will address in the course.

The course will have a two-fold focus. First, we will introduce students to the basic concepts of human genetics; discuss a number of human genetic disorders and the ways in which they arise; and examine the impact that genetic engineering and recombinant DNA technology are having on the diagnosis, treatment, and possible cure of some of these disorders. Second, we will consider the impact of human genetics on society. We will examine some of the misconceptions that have surrounded the inheritance of genetic traits and disorders in other times and societies. We will look at some of the attempts that have been made to "control" human heredity, including the eugenics movement, mandatory sterilization and marriage laws, and the successes and failures of genetic screening programs. We will also consider the Human Genome project and the impact it may have upon our society, both positive and negative. Finally, we will consider some of the legal and bio- ethical issues being raised as a result of the rapid explosion of genetic technology.

Students will be encouraged to become active participants in the learning process. In addition to being exposed to new concepts in lecture, they will have an opportunity to discuss issues raised in class, interact with guest lecturers, and express their thoughts in the form of short essays. Outside the lecture, students will participate in a required collaborative learning group that will meet once per week. Learning group sign-up will take place during the first week of classes.