Genome Sciences and Society

Before you get started, please read our Welcome Letter!

I. Course Info

II. Student Writing Assignment

III. Course Calendar

IV. Feedback

Course Information

Focus on contemporary study of human genome with particular attention given to relationships among structural and functional genomics, genome variation and phenotypic variation.  Incorporates discussion of social and policy issues created by the Genome Revolution. Students will develop a final paper addressing the science and societal impact of a genomics topic.

Student Writing Assignment

Here is information about the kind of writing students will be doing in this course and the expected context for that writing. This should help both students and their readers understand the aims of this particular writing task.

Context for student writing assignment

What are students writing? Essay
For whom?
People with a professional or general interest in genetics and genomics
Where would such writing typically be found? American Scholar, The New Yorker
Why would someone usually read it? To learn more about a subject that is either obscure to them or that they have not thought about in great depth. The goal of each piece of writing is to engage the reader, even if s/he did not expect to be engaged.

Course Calendar

Jan 27: Student Sign-Up ends.

Jan 31: Student-Reader matches are announced.

By Feb 5: Students and readers schedule their Introductory Meeting.

By Feb 10:  Introductory Meeting completed.

By April 7: Student sends rough but coherent draft to reader; reader gives feedback ASAP  but within one week.  (Please see note on Feedback  below.)

By April 14:  Students and readers to meet in real time (in person or via webcam, skype, phone…) to discuss revisions and feedback.

April 26: Final paper due to professor and to reader.

Note to Students: The earlier you submit the drafts the more time you will have to make use of reader feedback before turning in your work to your professor! You can also ask whether your reader will be available to give you less formal input at other points in the process, such as when you are considering options or developing particular ideas or wording.

Note to Readers: While you should provide feedback at the stages outlined above, you may also offer to give feedback  or chat informally with the student about the work in progess at other moments during the student’s work on this paper. At some point,  feedback should be given either in person, webcam or phone to allow for discussion.


Giving feedback for students in the Reader Project requires special considerations.

READERS: Here is what we suggest you do before you look at a draft:

  1. Read our guide to giving feedback
  2. Let the student know what form of feedback you plan to use.
  3. For your real-time “think-aloud response,” please see How to Do a Think Aloud Response before you begin. For those using Webcams and would like technical assistence, please contact the project Manager.  For your written feedback,  we would greatly appreciate it if you would also send a copy to Project Manager to help with our assessment of the project!


  1. Please read “How to Use a Think-Aloud Response: A Guide for Students.”
  2. It is crucial that you maintain ownership of the document. This means that you should take the reader’s comments seriously, but that you should decide on (and take responsibility for) all changes to your document. When in doubt, ask your instructor.

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