Freshman Clusters



GE Cluster M72A,B,CW
Sex: From Biology to Gendered Society

Lecture Schedule:Tuesday, Thursday 2:00-3:15 p.m. – DeNeve Auditorium

Faculty:Abigail Saguy, Sociology (coordinator)
Arthur Arnold, Behavioral Neuroscience and Genetics
Martie Haselton, Evolutionary Psychology
Eric Vilain, Human Genetics and Medicine

Librarian: Simon Lee, Powell Library

From the moment of our conception, each of us has a biological sex. Our biological sex shapes the physical attributes of our bodies, our behavior, our place in society, the attitudes of others towards us, and our self-concept. However, it is our gender—the social implications of our biological sex—that is most important for our lives. Understanding sex and gender requires several different perspectives. In this course, we investigate perspectives from of sociology, biology, psychology, genetics, and medicine.

Course Format

This course encourages students to think and write critically about the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors that influence our behavior and experience as human beings. Many undergraduates will find the specific subject matter interesting, even fascinating. By studying sex and gender, students will also gain generalizable skills for analyzing diverse factors that together influence our lives. The course explicitly asks questions such as:

  • How is sex determined biologically at many different levels in the body?
  • How are gender differences and gender inequality "socially constructed"?
  • Which human traits are products of natural selection over millennia?
  • How does the law define the biological sex?
  • How does our physical and social environment influence how our genes work? How do our genes shape our experiences?
  • How do gendered stereotypes inform scientific knowledge about biological sex differences?
  • What determines our sexual orientation and sexual desires?
  • What do typical responses of parents and doctors to intersex babies reveal about social assumptions of gender?
  • How does our gender influence the diseases we get, and how we are treated by physicians?

Spring seminars – topics will include:

  • Gender-Based Medicine for Sex-Biased Diseases
  • Producing Bodies: Gender, Race, Class, and Medicalization
  • Sex on the Job: Sex and Gender in the Workplace
  • Historicizing Gender
  • Nature & Nurture: A continuing Conversation
  • Chosen Families: Blood, Love, and Fictive Kinship
  • Gender and Childhood in Crisis

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:

  • 3 in Foundations of Society & Culture (2 in Social Analysis; 1 in Historical Analysis)
  • 1 in Foundations of Scientific Inquiry (Life Science without lab/demonstration)

Diversity Requirement

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