Honor System


Course Topics

Homework Assignments


Student Essays

Essay Assignment

Topic: The techniques of genetic engineering that spawned new medical procedures and novel biotechnology products allow us to answer questions and solve problems in ways not imaginable just one generation ago. Caution has been practiced at every step during the development of biotechnology products and genetic engineering procedures because of their potential impact on how we think about ourselves and others. An important question today is to what degree should these procedures and products be regulated, and by whom should they be regulated. These concerns are part of the larger issue of science and public policy.

You are to write an essay one of the following three topics:

  • Human Genome Project
  • Human genetic screening or
  • Human gene therapy.
This essay should 1) discuss the technical aspects of one of the two topics in general terms. Furthermore, you are to 2) discuss the public policy debates relevant to the topic you choose. This section should cover arguments that are in favor and opposed to the use of the techniques or products. Finally I would like you to 3) express your personal opinion regarding the importance of the topic and the validity of the pro and con arguments.

Format: This essay will require a library review on your part. A minimum of three references must be cited. (Note: For graduate students, the minimum number of references is five.) Suitable articles can be found in magazines such as Scientific American, Popular Science, Omni, or Discover. Many books contain sections dedicated to these topics and would be appropriate source material. The public debate regarding all aspects of genetic engineering has been reported in newspapers such as The New York Times, and many general magazines such as Time, Newsweek, Atlantic Monthly and Harper's. One of the references that you use in your paper must be obtained from the WWW. Also, one reference must come from a printed source. I have listed below a large number of links that you can use to start you search via the World Wide Web. To reference your electronic source use the following format:

Lander, E.S. DNA on the Witness Stand. Obtained from the WWW:

The essay is to be a minimum of five, complete, double-spaced, printed pages. (Note: For graduate students, the minimum page length is eight pages.) You can use either Arial 11 pt or Times Roman 12 pt font. All margins are to be 1" on each side. A reference list will be at the end of paper and will not be considered as part of the minimum-page-length requirement . The first draft will be due October 26, 2000. Along with the first draft, you are to supply me with xeroxed copies of your reference material. I will review the essays and correct them for substance, style and grammar. They will be returned to you on November 14, 2000. At that point you will edit your first draft. The final draft will be due November 28, 2000.

On November 28, 2000, we will hold a class discussion of three topics upon which the paper are based. This discussion will be worth 30 points of your homework grade.

I will post each of your papers on the class WWW pages. These papers will be stored as a part of the permanent record of this class, and you will be able to use this a reference to employers of your work at NDSU. You will need to schedule a meeting with me to place your paper on the WWW. At this meeting you will need to bring a text only version of your paper.

Essay Checklist

The following checklist contains all the requirements for the essay.


  • Human Genome Project
  • Human genetic screening; or
  • Human gene therapy
  • Technical aspects
  • Pro and con arguments
  • Personal opinion
  • Printed
  • Double-spaced
  • One inch margins all around
  • Arial (Helvetica) 11 pt or Times Roman 12 pt font
  • Minimum of five complete pages (graduate students - seven pages)
  • Minimum of three references (graduate students - five references), one elctronic
  • Reference section
  • References submitted

Possible Source Sites for Your Paper