Duke University

Priscilla Wald, Associate Professor of English
Center for the Study of Medical Ethics & Humanities
Email: pwald@duke.edu

Because of Prof. Wald's connections with a wide range of ages - from elementary schools to community groups to the university - the long-range impact of the course and conference is far-reaching. The project's vision is that the conference will serve as outreach to the undergraduate community (a group that has not been largely targeted), as well as to the neighboring campus and local genetic and religious communities in the area. Prof. Wald hopes to bring undergraduates into area K-12 classes to facilitate workshops. Imagine the impact to the science and religion dialogue as these young people mature!

The course proposed in this project will pose the question of what it means to be human - how genetics is changing, challenging and complicating our collective sense of what it means to be human, and how religion is shaping the way that we understand and respond to current work on the human genome. The class will be divided into four sections. The first will examine how religion structures even the most secular areas of our lives. Each of the subsequent three sections will focus on a publicly debated issue within human genetics.

A public conference will be offered during the penultimate week of the course. Students will be required to attend and will be offered the opportunity to present course work, and to become involved in the planning and execution of the conference. As an outcome of the conference, the project envisions creation of a monthly reading group, continuation of annual symposia on this topic, and the encouragement of active undergraduate participation in other projects such as this on campus.

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