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Department Of Anthropology To Offer New Course For Analyzing Your Own Genes

Have you ever wanted to analyze your own genes and find out where your ancestors came from? Laurel Pearson in the Department of Anthropology is designing a pilot course for the fall semester that will allow students to do just that.

Anthropology, Ancestry, and You (ANTH 197) will combine science and anthropology in a personal way while allowing students to explore their own ancestry using available technology.

“The goal of the course is to get students excited about anthropology and science by investigating their own genomes and genealogies,” Pearson said. Instead of buying a textbook for the class, students will have the option to purchase access to the genetic analysis services Ancestry.com or 23andMe to get personal genetic and genealogical data. Traits like variation in skin pigmentation, face shape, and earlobe type can be traced through generations to see how and why they may have changed over time.

Pearson’s program will focus on getting students engaged in science that is relative to them, so the course will be less exam-based and more geared toward critical thinking and reflection. “I hope that students will see how incredibly similar we all are as humans while recognizing the diversity that makes each of us unique,” Pearson said.

Although it’s possible to explore your genealogy using online programs outside of the classroom, the developers of this course aim to go deeper. They hope to provide students with the tools to become informed consumers of their own health, well-being, and genealogical background.

The class is scheduled for 1:25 p.m. Monday/Wednesday/Friday for the fall 2018 semester. Because it is a pilot course, it’s being offered as a special topics class, but in the future it will be considered either GS or GN credit. Students who take the course in the fall will likely be able to petition for general education credit through their academic advisers after completing the course.

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About the Author

Sarah D'Souza

Sarah is a senior biobehavioral health major and a staff writer for Onward State. Like basically half of Penn State, she is from "right outside Philadelphia," and is the first Nittany Lion in her family. She is an avid lover of cheese, sushi, and carbs of all sorts. Unlike most people, she loves grammar and, like most people, enjoys long walks to wherever the puppies are. Hit her up at [email protected]

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