All of us have grown up in some type of family. Yet, most people have little systematic understanding of the dynamics in families and close relationships, and how these are influenced by the social structures, culture, and the political system in which they live. This course encourages students to think critically about diverse family and intimate relationships using a variety of readings, lectures, group discussions, group activities, and videos. Using a life course perspective, we will examine the ways in which historical, cultural, social, and political factors influence our personal experiences, beliefs, privileges, constraints, and choices in the context of family and close relationships. Our likelihood of marrying, bearing children, or divorcing; our family values, lifestyles, and opportunities; and our health and well being (and stressors upon them) are all influenced by these structural factors. This course will draw upon key family theories and social science research, and will be enhanced by a cross-cultural comparison of the countries we visit on our voyage.
Field WorkCountry: India
Date: March 6, 2017
In this field class we will visit a hospital specializing in medical tourism, in particular in-vitro fertilization and surrogacy. The facility provides services for couples from other countries who travel to India to have their embryos created and implanted into Indian women who will serve as gestational carriers for the couples at a cost significantly less than they would have paid in their home countries. We will learn about medical tourism and surrogacy, and address the social, cultural, and ethical dilemmas associated with the practice. At a second hospital we will explore contraceptive and abortion services in India with practitioners, as a means of family planning, managing Indian population growth, and reducing infant and maternal mortality in India. One by-product of readily available abortion in a culture that places a higher value on males is that some families choose to abort female fetuses, leading to a sex imbalance in India. This has profound implications. We will explore these issues, making connections to the textbook and to other countries along our voyage, particularly to China.
1. Obtain a greater understanding of medical tourism, including both the buyers and the sellers.
2. Deepen our understanding of the “gestational carrier” role, and the ethical issues it raises.
3. Identify key issues regarding family planning and abortion in India, including sex selection.