Lecture Schedule: Monday and Wednesday | 12:30 P.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Faculty: Michelle Rensel | Institute for Society & Genetics, Coordinator
Rachel Lee | English, Gender Studies, Institute for Society & Genetics, and Center for the Study of Women
Aaron Panofsky | Institute for Society & Genetics
Rachel Vaughn | Gender Studies and Center for the Study of Women
Librarian: Doug Worsham | Biomed Library
Writing Consultant: Dana Cairns Watson | Writing Programs
Inquiry Specialist: Maxwell Grollman

Biotechnology and SocietyIn the early days of genetic engineering, few people would have predicted the creation of three-person embryos. As advances in genetics and molecular biology continue, the next generation of leaders must be challenged to think about hard questions, including, “Who should benefit from this new science? How do we determine what modifications of human and other life forms are safe and appropriate?” And, most broadly, “How do advances in biotechnology affect our understanding of ourselves, our relationships with each other, and our role in the natural universe?” In the Biotechnology cluster, students explore this new science from biological, ethical and sociopolitical perspectives.

What are the Benefits?

  • Satisfy 4 GEs requirements
  • Satisfy Writing II requirement
  • 18 units toward degree
  • College Honors units including Honors Collegium
  • Priority Enrollment in Eng. Comp. 3

Writing II and Foundation Area General Education Credit

Upon completion of the yearlong cluster, students will fulfill the Writing II requirement and satisfy 4 GE course requirements:

  • 1 course in Foundations of Scientific Inquiry (Life Science without lab)
  • 1 course in Arts and Humanities (Philosophical and Linguistic Analysis)
  • 2 courses in Foundations of Society and Culture (1 in Historical Analysis and 1 in Social Analysis).

Diversity Requirement

Upon completion of all three quarters of the cluster, students will satisfy the diversity course requirement.

Human Biology and Society Major

Completion of the first quarter of this cluster satisfies a pre-major requirement for the Human Biology and Society major. See more information on the major and how to apply .

Student quote: I loved the integration of science and social issues pertaining to the biotechnologies we learned about. That's why I signed up for the class, and I learned exactly, if not more than what I signed up for.Course Format

This course features case-study approaches to the methods, applications, and implications of biotechnology. Guest speakers who do cutting-edge research scientists and genetic counselors

will be brought in to speak to the class. During fall and winter quarters, the course meets twice a week for lectures and once a week for a two-hour section discussion. Themes include:

Themes include:

Fall Quarter:

  • Breast cancer
  • Genetically Modified Foods
  • “Do It Yourself” Biology

Winter Quarter:

  • Reproductive Technologies and Stem Cells
  • Sequencing and Epigenetics
  • Identity and Illness

Spring seminars

During spring quarter, students choose a seminar that allows them to explore a particular topic in greater depth. Previous seminar titles have included:

  • From Molecular Music to Transgenic Art: Genetics and Culture
  • Science, Nature, and Religion: Classical Questions and Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology and Society in Science Fiction: Cloning, Sex, Immortality and the Evolution of Humanity
  • Eating for the Environment
  • Biotechnology in the Media
  • A Short History of Bio-politics
  • Constructions of Illness and Care