Genes and the Social Environment (SUMMER 2018)

Course content

Molecular genetic data are becoming increasingly available in social science surveys. Social scientists including sociologists are starting to look at the interplay between genes and social environment. Where the scholarly debate was previously about nature vs. nurture, concepts like epigenetics and gene-environment interactions have opened up more nuanced understandings of the relation between genetic and social factors.

 

The intersection of genetics and social science lies at the frontier of developments within sociology and other disciplines of social science. It calls for a sophisticated methodological toolbox and an advanced understanding of social relations. This course provides students with the knowledge and skills to understand, assess, and discuss this literature.

 

The course equips students to critically assess causal claims about genes and social factors. In order to do so, the course introduces the participants to a range of methods such as twin studies, adoption studies, and methods using genotypic data. 

 

Thematically, the course will focus on the use of genomic data within studies of social inequalities in health and education (is education hereditable? And if so does the heritability depend of the social context?), but will also touch on topics such as ancestry and relatedness (are todays population of Greenland related to the vikings?). Finally, the course emphasizes ethical considerations and invites the participants to discuss and reflect upon the use of sociogenomics in the development of social policy in the context of a democratic welfare state.

Education

Elective course BA+MA

Course package (MSc 2015):
Welfare, Inequality and Mobility
 

Please notice that this course is offered both as 7,5 ECTS and 10 ECTS (see under exam).

Learning outcome

Knowledge

The course will provide the students with knowledge of:

  • key concepts in the sociogenomic literature such as genetic effects, gene-environment interactions, gene-environment correlations, epigenetics, and heritability

  • the interplay between genetic and social factors in the production of inequality in health and education

  • research designs used in the sociogenomic literature such as twin studies, adoption studies, and studies using molecular genetic data.

  • ethical issues related to studying the interplay between genetic and social factors

 

Skills

The students will be able to:

  • evaluate the validity of a given sociogenomic study

  • evaluate causal claims in general

  • provide clear written and oral argumentation

 

Competences

  • convert knowledge on sociogenomics to relevant discussions from a societal perspective

  • the ability to give constructive feedback

Lectures, class discussions, group discussions, writing, and solving a problem set.

The type of Exam is Active Participation.

Active Participations consist of four components:

(1) Writing a paragraph (5-7 sentences, max 200 words) each day explaining one key sentence from the previous day's topic.

(2) Giving feedback on students’ paragraphs.

(3) Preparing questions for a class discussion on a text from the course material by the choice of the student.

(4) Solving a problem set.

The syllabus consists of 800 standard pages for 10 ECTS and 600-700 pages for 7.5 ECTS
 

Readings will for example include:

Conley, D., & Flethcer, J., 2016: The Genome Factor. What the Social Genomics Revolution Reveals about Ourselves, Our History & the Future. Princeton University Press.
 

Jencks, Christopher, 1980: "Heredity, Environment, and Public Policy Reconsidered" American Sociological Review. Vol. 45, No. 5 (Oct., 1980), pp. 723-736

Please be aware:

This course has limited space.

The ordinary period for registration for Summer courses is from November 15th to December 1st.
If the course is full after this period, it will NOT be offered for registration again, in the extra period for registration from May 15th to June 1st.


WORKLOAD
(Workload is specified for the 7,5 ECTS course - please see below)

10 ECTS:
Lectures: 28
Reading Syllabus: 168
Other preparations for class: 79
Total: 275

The number of lecture hours are the same for both 7,5 and 10 ECTS courses.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

In order to improve learning and practice written argumentation, for every day of the course each student produces a paragraph explaining a key sentence from the previous day's topic. Students will give feedback on each other's paragraphs.

ECTS
See exam description
Type of assessment
Course participation
Active participations consist of four components:

(1) Writing a paragraph (5-7 sentences, max 200 words) each day explaining one key sentence from the previous day's topic.

(2) Giving feedback on students’ paragraphs.

(3) Preparing questions for a class discussion on a text from the course material by the choice of the student.

(4) Solving a problem set.
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome

ECTS
See exam description
Type of assessment
Course participation
Active participations consist of four components:

(1) Writing a paragraph (5-7 sentences, max 200 words) each day explaining one key sentence from the previous day's topic.

(2) Giving feedback on students’ paragraphs.

(3) Preparing questions for a class discussion on a text from the course material by the choice of the student.

(4) Solving a problem set.
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Course Preparation
  • 99
  • Preparation
  • 79
  • English
  • 206