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HLTH 196: Genomics and SocietyTamara Williams, Ph.D.Summer 2013 Syllabus
July 15-26
: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays 5:00-7:45pm (Rowell 102)
July 29-August 9
: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays (Online)Office Hours: By appointmentEmail: tamara.williams@uvm.edu
___________________________________________________________Course Summary and Goals
Following completion of the Human Genome Project, Genomics has proven a rich sourceof controversy. As the applications and implications of rapid, inexpensive, and reliablegenome sequencing become clearer, complex ethical, moral, and practical questionsemerge. Misuse and misunderstanding of the science behind Genomics has cloudedconversations in the public forum and polarized topics that warrant many shades of gray.This course will focus on thoughtful, engaging, and open-minded discussions of currentcontroversies involving Genomics (the study of the structure, function, and evolution of an organism’s entire genome) and Genetics (the study of specific gene function andinheritance). Students are expected to actively participate and prepare for class throughcritical review of assigned texts, videos, public policy reports and documents, newsarticles, and other media.
There is a prerequisite of at least one high school-levelbiology course.
Evaluation will include preparing for and actively engaging in classdiscussions, composing thoughtful reflection papers, one in-class exam, and crafting awell-sourced final research report and presentation as part of an expert team panel.
Course Learning Objectives
Throughout this course, students will:
Engage in thought-provoking discussions with classmates and instructor
Increase awareness of and the scientific basis of controversies in Genomics/Genetics
Develop skills to critically interpret scientific literature, policy documents, and massmedia coverage of topics in Genomics/Genetics
Expand appreciation for the ways in which science affects society and society affectsscience
Practice working in groups to dissect a topic of interest into its scientific, ethical, andsocial implications
Skills developed in this course include:
Articulate an argument or position and respectfully listen to and understand arguments orpositions of others
Write concise and thoughtful prose reflecting on complex topics spanning science, ethics,and society
Conduct literature research to form and support positions
Collaborate with others to complete projects
Increase comfort and skill with oral presentation
Challenge previous notions and impressions held through curious learning
Required Text
Reilly, P. (2010).
The Strongest Boy in the World: How Genetic Information is Reshaping Our Lives (Updated and Expanded Edition).
Cold Spring Harbor Press.
(available through most online book sellers including amazon.com, bn.com, severalcopies ordered and on hand at Barnes & Noble in South Burlington (102 Dorset St) andone copy is available at the Dana Library)
Assigned reading and viewing materials, excluding text chapters, will be provided onBlackboard either by PDF attachment or web link. Please use Blackboard for updatedreading/viewing materials as changes may occur to the listed course schedule included inthis syllabus. Assignments must be uploaded to Blackboard by the listed deadline. Pleasecontact me prior to the deadline if you are not able to upload an assignment toBlackboard so we can make other arrangements.
Attendance Policy
Given the importance of active discussion in attaining the goals of the class, attendance ismandatory. Students must notify me of any University-approved absences prior to classwhen possible. Any student with three or more unexcused absences will receive a failinggrade.
Grading Criteria
15%- Class participation and preparation
20%- 2 Reflection papers
20%- Midterm research paper
10%- Blackboard posts (online portion of class)
5%- Panel research report proposal (25% individual score, 75% team score)
5%- Participation in peer review of report proposals
20%- Panel research report (75% individual score, 25% team score)
5%- Critique of panel research reports
Reflection Papers: Two, 2-3 page papers (excluding cover page and bibliography)summarizing the student’s thoughts, perceptions, and lingering questions on any topicdiscussed in class within its section (Life, Health, Ethics, and Society). Must cite at least 3relevant and legitimate sources.
Midterm Paper: 3-5 page paper (excluding cover page and bibliography) citing reputablesources exploring the science, ethics, and social implications of a controversy inGenomics /Genetics. Must cite at least 5 relevant and legitimate sources.
Final Project: Students will work in teams of 2-3 to research a controversialGenomics/Genetics topic with each student taking the lead in one aspect of thecontroversy. Groups must cover the science and technology involved, ethicalconsiderations, and its impact on society. Individual and team grades will be given for theproposal, the final report and the panel presentation. Individual grades will be given forproviding peer review of other teams’ proposals.
Report Proposal:
Each team will submit a proposal for their report inoutline format, identifying the key aspects that will be covered in the finalreport and presentation (details provided in the assignment description).
Peer Review of Proposal:
Proposals will be reviewed by the instructor but also will be reviewed by classmates as part of a peer review process. Eachstudent will review and provide feedback on the other teams’ proposals.
Panel Report 
: Each student will independently contribute a 2-3 pagesection of the panel report based on the aspect of the controversy he or sheresearched for the team project, citing at least 5 relevant and legitimatesources. The team will collaboratively write the Executive Summary,Introduction, and Conclusion sections
Critique of Panel Reports
: Students will provide constructive, professionalcritiques and responses to other groups’ panel reports (1/2 page perreport).
Classroom Environment Expectations
Each student is expected to:
Actively and thoughtfully participate in class (online and face to face) discussions
Treat others in the class with respect and dignity
Complete assigned reading materials prior to class
Turn in assignments on time (10% deducted from grade for every day late)
Seek out assistance from me or from classmates when needed
Behave with academic honesty and honor
Show up for class on time / Make assigned posts on time
Silence cell phones and put away laptops while in class

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