Course Syllabus: Genomics, Ethics and Society

Description

This course provides an introduction to key issues relating to genomics in society. It explores social, ethical and policy questions raised by genomics in the context of: synthetic biology, genetics and crops, genetic modification of domestic animals, genetics and conservation, human genetic therapies and human enhancement, and privacy and genetic information.

Abstract

Course title

Genomics, Ethics and Society

Term

Spring/Fall 20xx

Meeting times and location

This course will run wholly online

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to key issues relating to genomics in society. It explores social, ethical and policy questions raised by genomics in the context of: synthetic biology, genetics and crops, genetic modification of domestic animals, genetics and conservation, human genetic therapies and human enhancement, and privacy and genetic information.

Learning Outcomes or Course Objectives

All Students who have successfully completed this course should be able to:

  • Show sound understanding of basic scientific concepts relating to genomics
  • Recognize ways in which different forms of genetic technology arise from, are embedded in, and impact on society and the environment
  • Identify and explain different values and ethical approaches that might be at stake in various genetic and genomic technologies, and show understanding of why deep and enduring ethical conflicts about genetics and genomics arise
  • Apply different theoretical, value and policy-making approaches to real life issues and case studies
  • Take part in regular online discussions about issues in genomics in an open-minded, reasonable and reasoned way
  • Demonstrate critical thinking, in terms of questioning their own assumptions, engaging with others’ arguments and showing willingness to reconsider and reformulate their own positions

 

Graduate Students registered for this course should in addition be able to:

  • Construct and defend clear, coherent and original arguments about genomics and society in the context of discussions, presentations and an extended piece of written work.
  • Demonstrate the ability to accurately summarize and engage critically, in writing, with leading texts in the field.

 

Textbook and/or Resource Material

This course will run wholly online. Course materials include written text discussing key social and ethical questions raised by genomic and genetic technologies, videos from a number of speakers who are leaders in the field, case studies, and links to a variety of resources. Every week contains reading assignments. Students are also required to participate in graded online discussions, to submit case studies, and graduate students are required to write a research paper. .

 

Course Topics, Calendar of Activities

 

UNIT 1: INTRODUCTORY MATERIAL: GENETICS, ETHICS & POLICY

 

Week 1 Introduction to the course:

Introduction to Key Themes, Values and Ethical Theories..

Readings for everyone:

  1. Sandler R (2014) Introduction: Technology and ethics. In: Ethics and Emerging Technologies. (ed Sandler R) pp 1-23. New York, Palgrave Macmillian
  2. Griffiths P, Stotz K (2013) Mendel’s gene. In: Genetics and Philosophy.  pp 9-32. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

 

Week 2  Introduction to Genomics and Policy.

Readings for everyone:

  1. Evans JP, Meslin EM, Marteau TM, Caulfield T (2011) Deflating the Genomic Bubble. Science, 331, 861-862.
  2. Haga SB, Willard HF (2006) Defining the spectrum of genome policy. Nature Reviews Genetics, 7, 966-972.

Additional reading for graduates only

  1. Mintrom M, Williams C (2009) Public policy and genomic science: Managing dynamic change. Policy and Society, 28, 253-265.

UNIT 2: SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY/GENETICS

 

Week 3: Synthetic Biology

Readings for everyone:

  1. Bedau MA, Triant M (2014) Social and ethical implications of creating artificial cells. In: Ethics and emerging technologies. (ed Sandler R) pp 562-574. New York, Palgrave Macmillian.
  1. Gutmann A (2011) The ethics of synthetic biology: Guiding principles for emerging technologies. Hastings Center Report, 41, 17-22.

Week 4 Synthetic Biology and Biofuels

Readings for everyone:

  1. Buyx A, Tait J (2011) Ethical Framework for Biofuels. Science, 332, 540-541.
  2. Tilman D, Socolow R, Foley JA et al. (2009) Beneficial Biofuels—The Food, Energy, and Environment Trilemma. Science, 325, 270-271.

Additional reading for graduates only

  1. Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2011) Ethical framework. Biofuels: ethical issues. UK.

 

UNIT 3: GENOMICS AND CROPS

 

Week 5  Genomics and Crops 1

Readings for everyone:

  1. Hansson S, Joelsson K (2013) Crop Biotechnology for the Environment? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 26, 759-770.
  1. Thompson PB, Hannah W (2008) Food and agricultural biotechnology: A summary and analysis of ethical concerns. Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology, 111, 229-264.

Week 6  Genomics and Crops 2

Readings for everyone:

  1. Mcafee K (2008) Beyond techno-science: Transgenic maize in the fight over Mexico’s future. Geoforum, 39, 148-160.
  1. Mercer KL, Wainwright JD (2008) Gene flow from transgenic maize to landraces in Mexico: An analysis. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 123, 109-115.

 

UNIT 4: GENOMICS AND DOMESTICATED ANIMALS

 

Week 7 Genomics and Domesticated Animals 1:

Readings for everyone:

  1. Lassen J, Gjerris M, Sandøe P (2006) After Dolly—Ethical limits to the use of biotechnology on farm animals. Theriogenology, 65, 992-1004.
  2. Regan, Tom. (1989) The Case for Animal Rights. From Regan & Singer (eds) Animal Rights and Human Obligations, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice Hall. Available at:http://www2.webster.edu/~corbetre/philosophy/animals/regan-text.html

Week 8 Genomics and domesticated animals 2

Readings for everyone:

  1. Olsson IAS, Sandøe P (2010) “What’s wrong with my monkey?” Ethical perspectives on germline transgenesis in marmosets. Transgenic Research, 19, 181-186.

Additional reading for graduate students:

  1. Olsson IAS, Sandøe P (2010) Ethics of animal research In: Handbook of laboratory animal science volume 1: Essential principles and practices. (eds Hau J, Schapiro SJ). Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press.

 

Week 9  BREAK

 

UNIT 5: GENOMICS AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

 

Week 10 Genomics, Conservation and De-extinction:

Readings for everyone:

  1. Sherkow JS, Greely HT (2013) What if extinction is not forever? Science, 340, 32-33.
  2. Steiner CC, Putnam AS, Hoeck PEA, Ryder OA (2013) Conservation Genomics of Threatened Animal Species. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences, 1, 261-281.
  1. Thomas MA, Roemer GW, Donlan. CJ, Dickson BG, Matocq M, Malaney J (2013) Gene tweaking for conservatinon. 2013, 501, 485-486.

Week 11 Genomics and Pest Management:

Readings for everyone:

  1. Gould F (2008) Broadening the application of evolutionarily based genetic pest management. Evolution, 62, 500-510.
  1. Gould F, Magori K, Huang Y (2006) Genetic strategies for controlling mosquito-borne diseases: Engineered genes that block the transmission of malaria and dengue can hitch a ride on selfish DNA and spread into wild populations. American Scientist, 94, 238-246.

UNIT 6: GENETIC THERAPY AND HUMAN ENHANCEMENT

 

Week 12: Genetic therapy:

Readings for everyone:

  1. Gould D (2013) Gene doping: gene delivery for olympic victory. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 76, 292-298.
  1. Mccarthy JJ, Mcleod HL, Ginsburg GS (2013) Genomic Medicine: A Decade of Successes, Challenges, and Opportunities. Science Translational Medicine, 5, 189sr184.

Week 13: Human Enhancement:

Readings for everyone:

  1. Garcia T, Sandler R (2008) Enhancing Justice? NanoEthics, 2, 277-287.
  2. Sandel MJ (2004) The case against perfection: What’s wrong with designer children, bionic athletes, and genetic engineering. The Atlantic Monthly, 293, 51-62.

Additional Reading for graduates:

  1. Liao SM (2008) Selecting Children: The Ethics of Reproductive Genetic Engineering. Philosophy Compass, 3, 973-991.

 

UNIT 7: GENETIC DATA AND PRIVACY

 

Week 14: Genetic data and privacy 1

Readings for everyone:

  1. Gutmann A, Wagner JW (2013) Found Your DNA on the Web: Reconciling Privacy and Progress. Hastings Center Report, 43, 15-18.
  2. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (2012) Executive summary. Privacy and Progress in whole genome sequencing. pp 1-11. Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office

 

Week 15 Genetic data and privacy 2

Readings for everyone:

  1. Mcewen JE, Boyer JT, Sun KY (2013) Evolving approaches to the ethical management of genomic data. Trends in Genetics, 29, 375-382.
  2. Editorial (2013) Privacy and protection in the genomic era. Nature Medicine, 19, 1073.

Additional reading for graduates:

      3. Kaye, J. 2012. The Tension between Data Sharing and the Protection of Privacy in    Genomics Research. Annual Reviews of Genomics and Human Genetics 13: 415-431

 

 

Assessment, Attendance and Grading

 

Attendance Policy: [Insert your own institution policy]

 

Late Work: [Insert your late work policy]

Grade Assignment and Weighting:

 

Undergraduate grade weighting:

1. Participation in six unit discussions:                  5%  each         (30%)

2. Two case study analyses:                                 20% each        (40%)                

3. Final case study analysis                                  30%                 (30%)

 

Graduate grade weighting

1. Participation in six unit discussions                   3.33% each     (20%)

2. Two case study analyses                                  15% each        (30%)

3. Research paper                                                30%                 (30%)

4. Final case study analysis                                  20%                 (20%)

 

Grading scale [Insert your own grading scale]:

A = 90-100                                                                       

B = 80-89                                                             

C = 70-79                                                             

D = 60-69                                                             

F = <60

 

 

Undergraduate  Assessment Tasks

 

Contribution to online discussion: 30% of the final grade (5% each).

The course contains six assessed online discussions. Your contribution to these 6 discussions will be worth 30% of your final grade. The online material contains guidance as to what is being sought and an undergraduate grading rubric is available. Opening and closing dates for each discussion will be made available.

 

Case studies: 40% of the final grade (20% each).

You should choose any two of the case studies available online (excepting the last one) and write them up, following guidance online and with reference to the undergraduate grading rubric, the model case study and the Ethics Assessment Process. Your case studies should be 4 pages maximum (excluding references).

 

Final case study: 30% of the final grade

This 6-page case study analysis will draw on different aspects of genomics covered on the class, and requires some independent reading. Further details are available online.

 

Graduate Assessment Tasks

 

1. Contribution to online discussions: 20% of your final grade.

There will be six assessed online discussions in this course. Your contribution to each discussion will be worth 3.33% of your final grade.  Guidance as to what is being sought  is provided, as is a grading rubric for graduate online discussions.  Opening and closing dates for each discussion will be made available.

 

2 Case study analyses: 30% of your final grade (15% each)

You should choose any two of the case studies available online (excepting the last one) and write them up, following guidance online and with reference to graduate grading rubric, the model case study and the Ethics Assessment Process. Your case studies should each be 5 pages maximum (excluding references).

 

3. Research paper: 30% of your final grade

During the second part of the semester, you should write a 10 page research paper on an issue related to genetics, ethics, policy, society (related to your own research, if appropriate).

 

4. Final case study: 20% of your final grade

You should provide a rigorous analysis of a final case study, drawing on different aspects of the course. This paper will require some independent research. Your case study should be 6 pages long.