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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Phillip S Thurtle
CHID 250
Seattle Campus

Special Topics: Introduction to the History of Ideas

Examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework. Satisfies the Gateways major/minor requirement. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

This class is designed to appeal to all. No prerequisites needed!

This class explores key legal, ethical, cultural, scientific, and commercial aspects of the rapidly changing world of biotechnology and bioinformatics. It specifically asks how new discoveries in biology encourage us to rethink issues of ownership, communication, geography, identity, and artistic practice. The class will be structured around six specific case studies that students will use to understand underlying issues. Come find out about the often exhilarating and frequently frightening scenarios for the future of your body.

Students will be specifically encouraged to ask the following questions:

What are the ethical and legal issues involved in patenting human cell lines?

How are recent biotechnologies portrayed in science fiction films? What can we learn by studying these portrays?

What does it mean to suggest that biotechnology is part of "an information society"?

How are race, class, gender, and disability mapped onto or intersect with biomedicine?

How are artists using live organisms in their art work? What can we learn about art, ethics, and scientific practice by studying this work?

How do scientists manipulate space and time in the laboratory?

Student learning goals

Students will acquaint themselves with important emergent issues surrounding biomedicine and the dominant ways that these issues have been studied, including biopolitical, political economic, science and technology studies, disabilities studies, philosophic, cultural, literary, and media studies analyses.

Students will gain familiarity with common procedures used in the biomedical sciences.

Science students will gain confidence in applying humanistic research themes to scientific topics while humanities students will gain confidence reading and analyzing scientific texts and concepts.

Students will gain practice researching and composing original research papers.

Students will gain a sense of how different ways of explaining the world (science and the humanities, for instance) can complement each other.

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

No preparation needed

Class assignments and grading


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 Phillip S Thurtle
Date: 09/01/2009