The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47: 237 - 244 (2003)

Vol 47, Issue 2-3

Special Issue: Teaching Developmental Biology

Educating for social responsibility: changing the syllabus of developmental biology

Published: 1 January 2003

Scott F Gilbert and Anne Fausto-Sterling

Edward Martin Laboratories, Biology Department, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081, USA.


Developmental biology is deeply embedded in the social issues of our times. Such topics as cloning, stems cells, reproductive technologies, sex selection, environmental hormone mimics and gene therapy all converge on developmental biology. It is therefore critical that developmental biologists learn about the possible social consequences of their work and of the possible molding of their discipline by social forces. We present two models for integrating social issues into the developmental biology curriculum. One model seeks to place discussions of social issues into the laboratory portion of the curriculum; the other model seeks to restructure the course, such that developmental biology and its social contexts are synthesized directly.

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