The results of dramatic advances in human genetics research are making their way from the laboratory through the media and the clinic into the lives of everyday people. Debate about the implications for society and for public health policy is taking place among researchers, clinicians, ethicists, and concerned citizens. This course will bring a social science perspective to the dialogue by exploring the ways social and behavior research is used to frame science and biotechnology and thus contributes to the creation of meaning. Topics include: the place of science in our society; the post modem body in a genomic era; stigma; genetic testing and prenatal diagnosis; medicalization of the family; quality of life and disability; and the role of the media in science discourse. Readings for each topic will cover both the concept and accompanying research studies that are used to examine it.
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Explain the historical, cultural and social context of science in society as it relates to the application of modem biotechnology in the provision of health care
- Demonstrate understanding of key social science concepts used in the study of science and apply them in analysis of the social implications of the "new genetics"
- Identify political and social forces that influence illness definition, behavior, and treatment
- Analyze social response toward genetic research and genetic testing by utilizing historical and cross-cultural examples as case studies
- Analyze the role of media in influencing attitudes toward science generally and genetics specifically