Courses of Study 2013-2014 
    Oct 16, 2021  
Courses of Study 2013-2014 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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STS 4371 - Geography of Human Genes and Social Identities Since the Ice Age

(also BSOC 4371 )
Summer. 4 credits. Letter grades only.

No prior science courses are necessary and students of all backgrounds will be respected and encouraged to discuss and debate the topics in the course.

A. Waters.

Human genetics allows us to track the migration of human populations over the last 40,000 years. With new genetic sequencing technology, we can identify how human genes were transferred from group to group after they came into contact. One of the more intriguing recent discoveries in the study of human genetics is that all living humans today share the same common ancestry less than 20,000 years ago (or 500 generations). In addition, the genetic profiles of human populations seem to correspond directly with specific geographical regions around the globe. Does the process of classifying individuals and groups based on genetic markers offer a more plausible alternative than the way we traditionally view ourselves and others? Are human genetic profiles at the population level more objective than how groups are identified on government forms and university applications and records? In addition to these questions, we will analyze the ethical, legal, political and policy implications of using genetic data in many diverse areas of contemporary life, such as in forensic analysis and law enforcement, medical practice, life-insurance policies and genetic counseling (“designer babies”).

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