Genomics and Public Health (Behavioral, Social, and Ethical Issues)

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Ropka
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 0800
End: 0915
Field Work: Day 6 | China Download Syllabus

Advances in genetics and genomics research are rapidly presenting both great opportunities and complex challenges for public health and society. Resulting knowledge and technologies are making their way from the laboratory into health care and people’s everyday lives. In order for the potential benefits of genomics to be realized (and unintended harms minimized), numerous behavioral, social, and ethical issues will need to be understood and addressed. This course will employ a blend of lectures, group discussions, and assignments to explore such issues, including: ethical issues raised in research and health care; the psychological and behavioral impact for individuals and families of genetic testing; public and professional knowledge and attitudes about genomics; educational and informational interventions to enhance genetic literacy; challenges in communicating risk; and emerging trends in the field (e.g., direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests, pharmacogenomics).

Field Work

Country: China
Day: 6

Professor Ruiping Fan completed medical training in China and a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Rice University.  His teaching interests in Hong Kong include: ethics and public policy, social and political philosophy, and health care policy and ethics.  Students will visit Professor Fan at the City University of Hong Kong, where he will talk with them about the social, cultural, and ethical aspects of informed consent for medical decision making in China from a Confucian perspective.  He will lead a discussion with the students to compare the family-oriented Confucian perspective of informed consent to the Western self-determined perspective in the U.S.  A specific health-related decision-making situation will be addressed, such as genetic testing or genetic enhancement.
Academic Objectives: 1. Analyze important social, cultural and ethical dimensions of genomic discoveries in healthcare and society. 2. Explain ethical principles of informed consent and their applications to genomics and public health. 3. Contextually compare differing ethical perspectives as they relate to genomics and public health ethics