Who decides which people, animals or plants are valuable in society and which are not? Do genes determine this value? Do we have the right to control genes? If so, who will be the controller?
YOUgenics 3.0 is an exhibit of contemporary artworks that asks visitors to consider the ethical and social issues surrounding genetic research and practice. Many of the artists represent perspectives missing from the mainstream. From genetically modified foods to stem-cell research, the artworks are intended to inspire dialogue and debate about how the field of genetics affects our lives.
The title YOUgenics references the American eugenics movement of the early 20th century. Eugenicists argued that so-called human traits, such as intelligence and “criminality,” were determined biologically and transferred from parent to child. Eugenicists aspired to “improve” the human race through social engineering: encouraging reproduction among the genetically “superior” and preventing reproduction among those designated inferior or “unfit.” These categories were subjective and reflected the social prejudices of those in power. Although it has long been discredited as science, many of the participating YOUgenics 3.0 artists maintain that the cultural sensibility of eugenics lives on.
This guide was created for high school teachers. Our goal is to provide a classroom resource that allows students and teachers to critically investigate the artwork and issues presented by YOUgenics 3.0. Through interactive presentations, group discussions and art-making lessons, this guide challenges users to develop their own interpretations. In this way, we believe that students may enter into the discussion of genetic technologies as critical and active participants.
- Amy Gerber and Kate Loague
Download Packet (PDF, 6MB)