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Here is an opportunity for a Societal Impact discussion

There are several reasons why we have science education included in our school curriculums.

The senior high science programs will help all students attain the scientific awareness needed to function as effective members of society. Students will be able to pursue further studies and careers in science, and come to a better understanding of themselves and the world around them.” Alberta Education

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Some of our students will indeed go on to careers in science and technology. A few will even become leaders in their field and make significant contributions. Yes, we want to develop students to become future innovators, but all of our students will go on to be impacted by the democratic decisions our society makes. All of our students, for example, will be influenced by the statements made by the Privacy Commissioner when it comes to protection of the collection, use and disclosure of personal health and genetic information.


It is for this reason that I highly recommend that teachers make use of blogs like the one written by Maeghan Toews for Genome Alberta. She tells us about the Privacy Commissioner calling upon the insurance industry to refrain from asking for genetic test results. Her blog contains a great deal of information that will lead to a lively class discussion.

Here are some potential perspectives:

  • Economic
  • Ethical/Moral
  • Health
  • Political
  • Scientific
  • Technological
  • Egocentric

 Besides the questions that Maeghan asks, students could speculate which perspective might be represented by:

  • The Minister of Health
  • An actuary for the insurance industry
  • A family member related to person at risk
  • A person without the genetic risk factors
  • A person who does not know their risk factors

 As a side note to the above, I did have this discussion with an actuary. He told me that it ultimately makes no difference to the insurance industry as they have already calculated the death risk factors for the general population and determine the policy premiums based on that. Insurance is by its very definition a sharing of risks.

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Here is an opportunity for a Societal Impact discussion

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