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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Carol Hopkins Sibley
GENOME 475
Seattle Campus

Debates in Genetics

Utilizes the original scientific literature as the basis for discussion of a range of genetic issues that impact society. Discussions are student-led; evaluations are based both on participation in class and on a research paper. Prerequisite: BIOL 200; either BIOL 355, BIOL 401, BIOL 402, GENOME 361, or GENOME 371.

Class description

The course will focus on controversial issues raised by the fast changing fields of genetics and genomics. The class is small and informal, and students will participate in focused discussions, and each student will be part of a team that will present 2 debates during the quarter. Some examples of issues that will be addressed include patenting of genetic information ( using the example of the BRCA1 gene), use of DNA in forensics, antibiotic use in agriculture as a driver of antibiotic resistance that affects humans.

Student learning goals

Students will be able to access, use and critically evaluate the primary biological and biomedical literature

Students will be able to work with a partner to design a strategy to defend a particular point of view in a scientific controversy

Students will learn- with lots of support- how to present information in a formal debate

Students will gain the skills to use active discussion with colleagues to learn new information.

Most important, students will gain the ability to evaluate critically the evidence on controversial issues in genetics and genomics, and will take this ability forward, so that can use these skills in the future as citizens.

General method of instruction

Focused discussion, reading of primary literature, team work to prepare and present evidence in a debate format

Recommended preparation

BIOL 200 is required, and at least one of the following: BIOL 355, BIOL 401, BIOL 402, GENOME 361, or GENOME 371.

Class assignments and grading

Full attendance in class is required so that discussions and all debates are attended. The assignments are - reading the assigned papers before class, - preparing and presenting 2 debates with a partner, - preparing an annotated bibliography outlining the literature used in one of the debates

The grade depends on - class attendance and active participation - preparation of the 2 debates (but NOT on public speaking skills!) - the annotated bibliography


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Carol Hopkins Sibley
Date: 03/05/2012