Course Topics - Biotech & Ethics
What are some of the changes happening in your discipline that you find particularly interesting?
Recent advances in science have led to technological advances that have transformed how we interact with our environment, manufacture new products, and develop new treatments for disease. Topics such as genetic engineering, bioremediation, biotechnology, and stem cells have led to the coining of the term “bioethics,” which call for vigilance and responsibility in protecting the values of humanism in all circumstances.
As educator, Eleanor Siebert, said, “The greatest reward for all of us in science education will come from facilitating the development of able and ethical scientists as well as a science-literate public, with will support and judge their work.” Never has this quote had more significance as we enter a decade where scientists have the potential to ‘play God’ unless codes, standards and protocols addressing bioethics are developed and understood by the general public.
What will you focus on with the students?
My aim is to illustrate the potential of biotechnological innovations and in so doing highlight the need for ethical behavior. Many of the advances have involved micro-organisms, either directly or indirectly, hence students will learn some basic microbiology to help them appreciate the role these organisms have played in the biotechnological explosion.
We shall also consider other cases where ‘science’ has the potential to modify ecosystems and shall touch on the emergence of technologies that are embraced by the term ‘nanotechnology’. In this short treatise of biotechnological movement, the need for bioethics and a science-literate public will be underscored.
What do you want them to learn about your field?
I truly believe we need a science literate population – given the fast pace of change and the ethical dilemmas that ensue. While I am realistic that 6-8 hours of lecturing can only scratch the surface – I will be highlighting topical and controversial areas that will showcase the need to ‘pay attention’ to biotechnological advances!
On Pedagogy and Collaboration
University 222 presents many opportunities for the campus, faculty, and students, from the GMC venue to the class size, from your collaboration as deans to the subject matter itself.
Given all of the above, what pedagogies will you employ to engage students and achieve your learning objectives?
I’ll use controversial and timely topics to engage students in discussion and, hopefully, demonstrate that we all need to pay attention to what is happening in biotechnology. There’s no required textbook for this segment of the course but students will be required to read several short articles from on-line sources and be familiar with the content in each. In total, the articles cover about 40 pages of text. All of the material from lectures and the readings will be up for inclusion in the final multiple-choice exam for the segment.
What’s it like teaching to 750 students?
Provost Rogerson will conduct his lectures from April 17-24.
In a broad sense, what opportunities are you excited about out of this class?
I find this course exciting for a couple of reasons. First, it is truly experimental for SSU – we want to know if such a large class can be taught successfully. Second, by targeting lower division GE we have many students in the class who haven’t yet chosen a major. This overview of many subject areas may help steer some to their dreams.