UNIT 4: EUGENICS
This unit is divided into chapters, not cases. Each describes one chapter in the development of the eugenics movement.
The movement began in the late 19th century with reasonable goals. Both scientists and members of the general public were interested in using their newly acquired knowledge of inheritance to work toward making improvements in the human "stock." But, with time, the eugenics movement became a tool for discriminating against and harming individuals and groups. By the end of World War II, the word "eugenics" was forever linked to acts of discrimination and extreme cruelty.
More recently, talk of eugenics and its promises-the improvement of the human "race"-have surfaced again, this time in the context of advances in genetics and technology. Once again, along with the possibilities for good come the potentials for harm. Thus, it is appropriate to consider now how American society can ensure that genetics research, gene manipulations, and new technologies can be regulated and monitored such that only good will come from contemporary research.
Chapters in this unit address the roots of the eugenics movement, the movement's rise and fall in the 20th century, and the rise of eugenic possibilities again in recent years. Because a number of excellent curriculum materials are already available for high schools describing the promises, strengths, and specifics of the human genome project (see listing at end of Chapter 6), that subject is not directly addressed in this unit.