Race and Biology

Schools of Public Engagement: BPATS

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
Race and Biology
Spring 2024
Taught By: Jennifer Scott
Section: A

CRN: 5207

Credits: 3

What do we learn about ourselves through genetics and genealogy? How does DNA connect with what we know about our identities, family ancestry and cultural heritage? This course explores the intersection between biology, culture and history. In particular, we examine the evolving scientific and social classifications of race and human difference. Students will learn how certain racial distinctions emerged historically, such as: Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid and mulatto, quadroon, octoroon or creole. They will critically examine the ways in which we dissect and quantify lineage – why we speak about our backgrounds, bloodlines, ethnic, racial and national make-ups in terms of percentages, fractions or measurable terms, why we use cultural tools, such as the census to “count” heritage, why we operated by “the one drop rule.” Using anthropological, sociological, historical, biological and literary works, we will also explore the “social narratives” or “social life of DNA,” the various ways in which genetics is used culturally and racially - as evidence to make legal claims or seek social justice, to anticipate wellness or disease, to determine social membership, pedigree or purity, or to re-construct identities. We will analyze the recent expansion, commercialization, and popularization of genetic analysis, most prominently exhibited in increased public DNA testing, as well as, in the widely-watched televisions programs, such as the American documentary series, Who Do You Think You Are? Examining these trends, students will investigate the ways in which genetics is used to constitute family history, construct individual and group identities, and create community.

College: Schools of Public Engagement (NS)

Department: BPATS (BPAT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: Online - Asynchronous

Max Enrollment: 21

Add/Drop Deadline: February 4, 2024 (Sunday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 16, 2024 (Tuesday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 7:18am EST 2/28/2024

Meeting Info:
Building: Online Course
Room: 999
Date Range: 1/22/2024 - 5/15/2024