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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

William S Noble
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

This course, aimed at upper-level biology majors, will help you connect the science you are learning about in your classes to real world issues that face our society:

Genetically modified organisms in the food supply

Communication of genetic information to patients with or without involvement of a medical professional

Cloning of livestock

Use of genetic information to infer phenotypic traits of the perpetrator of a crime

Federal oversight of genetic research on infectious agents

Public availability of data produced using federal funding

These are issues that all responsible citizen scientists should be thinking about carefully.

The course is small (12-24 students) and highly interactive. In addition to scientific content, students will acquire valuable debating skills. No prior experience in debating is required.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The course will be divided into units, and each unit will take three class periods, as follows:

An introductory lecture/discussion. Assigned reading will be handed out before each unit. These papers must be read before each introductory class.

The formal debate. Each debate will include two teams of two people each. Students will be assigned by lottery to partners and to an affirmative or negative position for the debates.

An open discussion of the various issues raised during the debate.

Recommended preparation

Juniors and seniors who have taken any one of the following courses may enroll:

GENOME 361: Fundamentals of Genetics and Genomics GENOME 371: Introductory Genetics BIOL 355: Foundations in Molecular Cell Biology BIOL 401: Advanced Cell Biology BIOL 402: Cell Biology Laboratory

Class assignments and grading

Class attendance is required, and active participation constitutes an important part of your grade. In addition, each student will be graded on

debate preparation and performance in two debates (see below for how that works),

the thoroughness of the student's evaluation of debates presented by other teams, and

an annotated bibliography of relevant information used in preparation of one of the debate topics.


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.
Course web page
Last Update by William S Noble
Date: 03/18/2014