The interdisciplinary minor in Genetic Engineering and Society (GES) examines the technological, societal and ecological issues surrounding the development and potential use of genetically engineered organisms. Participants in the minor will learn the basic concepts and principles underlying genetic engineering and the methods used for evaluating the technology’s social, cultural and environmental dimensions. Initially, the minor is focused on genetic pest management, but will broaden to consider other applications of genetic engineering, including genetically modified crops and synthetic biology. The graduate minor is available to students pursuing either an MS or a PhD degree.


In order to complete the minor, coursework must be taken in relevant areas of natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences. 9 credit hours from a list of approved courses (see below) are required, 6 of which must be the two core GES courses. The remaining 3 credit hours must be fulfilled by a course from the list of approved courses that is outside the students’ home discipline. A grade of B or higher must be achieved in each course counted towards the minor. In addition, a student must have a GES faculty member on his or her thesis committee, and this faculty member should be from a discipline other than the student’s major, ensuring that there is representation from both humanities/social science and natural science.

The choice of courses must be consistent with the interdisciplinary outlook of this minor, namely that students will learn the basic concepts and principles underlying genetic engineering and the methods used for evaluating the technology’s social, cultural, and environmental dimensions. The minor representative will be responsible for ensuring that the courses taken are appropriate and balance the student’s major. Students in the biological sciences will be encouraged to take hands-on courses, such as those offered by the BIT program.

Approved courses

Core courses:

GES/ENT 506 (3 CR) Principles of Genetic Pest Management
GES/COM/HI 508 (3 CR) Emerging Technologies and Society
GES 591 (3 CR) Governance, Systems and Modeling

Other approved courses:

ANT 550 Culture, Ecology, and Sustainable Living
BIT 410/510 Manipulation of Recombinant DNA
COM 536 Seminar in Environmental Communication
ECG 540 Economic Development
ENG 515 Rhetoric of Science and Technology
FW 411/511 Human Dimensions of Wildlife Management
GN 735 Genomic Science
HI 540 Topics in Environmental History
HI 581 History of the Life Sciences
HI 585 History of American Technology
NR 571 Current Issues in Natural Resource Policy
REL 571 Darwinism and Christianity
PA 598/798 Science and Technology Policy
PHI 475/575 Ethical Theory
PSY 757 Innovation and Technology
ST 590 A,C Bioinformatics I/II

*Additional courses may be added to the approved list, as determined by the Executive Committee. Courses may be substituted at the Co-Directors’ discretion.

GES Minor Co-Directors

Fred Gould

Professor of Entomology, IGERT Director, Co-Director of the Genetic Engineering & Society Center, GES Minor Co-Director

Dr. Fred Gould studies ecology and evolutionary biology. For over 20 years, he worked on strategies for decreasing the rate of insect pest adaptation to transgenic cotton, rice, and corn. His current research focuses on mosquitoes engineered so they can’t transmit human diseases. Gould participated in policy development for transgenic crops at the national and international level. He sees a need to develop more inclusive and transparent approaches for building, assessing and regulating transgenic pests.

See contact information.

Jason Delborne

Associate Professor of Science, Policy, and Society, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, GES Minor Co-Director

Dr. Jason Delborne’s research explores highly politicized scientific controversies with particular attention to interactions among policymakers, scientists, and the public. He has developed a conceptual model of scientific dissent, organized and studied several experiments in citizen engagement, and analyzed how public think tanks, such as the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office, navigate scientific controversies to provide expertise to policymakers.

See contact information.

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