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HISC 108 Third Midterm Prompt

The purpose of this exercise is to help you engage with recent developments in biology that challenge genetic determinism. Epigenetics and neural plasticity are frameworks for understanding the lasting effects of environmental stimuli, from hunger and nutrition, to childhood abuse, to large-scale political and social inequities. Both of these fields of inquiry have been celebrated as bulwarks against neo-eugenic arguments. Do you think they serve that purpose well?

The question you will answer is:

Does the scientific understanding of epigenetics / neural plasticity constitute a robust refutation of genetic determinism? Why? / Why not?

The essay should be 500 to 700 words, double-spaced for graders’ comments, and is due at 1.30pm on the Wednesday of 10th week, June 5th. Please turn in an online copy to turnitin, and a hard copy in class. Please make use of the readings either for week 8 (epigenetics) or week 9 (neural plasticity). If you have alternative readings that you are sure are good scholarly material (for example from another class, or your lab research), please feel free to use those instead, but you must provide a full citation so that we can check your sources.

Academic Integrity:

You are expected to write your papers by yourself, using your own words and ideas or otherwise attributing them to the writer from whom you borrowed. For class readings, in-text citations are sufficient, e.g. (Poverty Clinic, p. 5). If you are only using class readings, you do not need to provide a works cited page. For outside sources, please use a standard citation technique. You may cite my lecture notes thus (Gere, ‘Week 8,’ p.4) or any other way that makes clear to which set of notes you are referring.

Any copying or paraphrasing of another’s words or ideas without citation is plagiarism and a violation of the UCSD standards of academic integrity. Any violations will be reported to the Academic Integrity Office.


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