Mar 1st 2017

The Science and Politics of the GMO (edX)

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Learn the basics of genetic engineering and biotechnology and examine why the GMO is politically contentious. Participants will gain an understanding of how science works, its limits, and how the interaction of these factors leads to decision making.

What exactly are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and why do scientists develop them? Studying the science of GMOs helps us understand biotechnology’s potential role in addressing challenges in agriculture.

In this introductory Food and Nutrition course, you will learn the basics of genetic engineering, explore the political debate around the GMO and review the arguments for and against their use.

We will study the politics surrounding the GMO and its impact at both an individual level and to society as a whole; including the problems, perceptions, benefits, and risks associated with GMOs. Important to understanding the complexities around this topic we will not only be looking at the science behind how the GMO works, but also to the limitations of this science. We will also discuss the importance of information literacy as a tool for effectively identifying and evaluating issues.

Our goal is that this MOOC will impact people's understanding of science, what it can and can't do, and how information is transmitted. The intent is not to influence how people feel about GMOs, but to give them the critical thinking and scientific literacy tools necessary to make informed decisions — and to understand the broader impacts of those decisions.

What you'll learn:

- Assess, understand and apply social science concepts as they affect the development and use of biotechnology products and processes

- Gain an understanding of how biotechnology intersects with globalization, trade, poverty, food security, and environmental sustainability

- Understand and evaluate research articles and research methods related to biotech crops

- Learn to formulate well-structured research questions, recognize appropriate research methods, and assess research reports

- Craft thoughtful and effective arguments, with supporting evidence at the intersection of science and social science on issues of public policy

Course Syllabus

Week 1 - Introduction/Why GMOs

Week 2 - Why not GMOs

Week 3 - Contributions and Limits of Science

Week 4 - Politics and Society

Week 5 - GMOs and You

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