Johns Hopkins University launches online SynBio ethics course

About the Course

john-hopikins Synbio is a diverse field with diverse applications, and the different contexts (e.g., gain-of-function research, biofuels) raise different ethical and governance challenges. The objective of this course is to increase participants’ awareness and understanding of ethical and policy/governance issues that arise in the design, conduct and application of synthetic biology. The course will begin with a short history of recombinant DNA technology and how governance of that science developed and evolved, and progress through a series of areas of application of synbio. 

Course Syllabus

Optional Pre-work: Synthetic Biology Primer

Week 1: History of Recombinant DNA

Week 2: Gain-of-Function Research

Week 3: Biofuels

Week 4: Environmental Remediation

Week 5: Human Health

Week 6: Governance

Content will be presented in many forms, including not only reading and lectures, but also recorded and live interviews and discussions with scientists, ethicists and policy makers. Learners will have the opportunity to think, write and talk about the issues and challenges in their own work and in real-life case examples. A final project will engage students in the development of governance models for synbio.

This 6-week course will consist of short (8-12 minute) topical modules that will be a combination of lecture, video content, recorded group discussions and interviews.  Each module includes 1-3 integrated quiz and discussion questions. 

Recommended Background

This course is targeted to trainees and professionals in synthetic biology, though others familiar with the science may also find the course interesting, accessible and useful. All materials are in English, so English reading and speaking proficiency is necessary.

Full details can be found here.