Should all our genetic information be made public in order to eradicate genetic diseases from this world?
How can robots be used in society so they can actually be beneficial to us?
How do I define the right questions that will help me find solutions to complex world problems?
These questions, first covered in the popular TV series The Mind of the Universe, are now part of three online courses on genetic privacy, robots in society and scientific progress. They are open to everyone, available in both Dutch and English and can be followed on Coursera and edX.
The Mind of the Universe first launched as a VPRO TV science series with the aim to connect all scientific knowledge in the world and thereby accelerating scientific research development. Top scientists from across the globe were interviewed about research topics such as DNA manipulation, life in outer space, robots and the creation of life.
Wondering whether its content could be used again, the VPRO created open source science TV, making all its footage available under a creative commons license: a unique decision in the usually strictly copyright-regulated broadcasting world. They then asked three universities, Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam to develop three online learning tracks for the general public.
Leiden University’s course, created in collaboration with the Centre for Innovation, focuses on genetic privacy and asks the question: should we be concerned about the way our genetic data is being used? Robert Zwijnenberg, Professor Art and Science Interactions at the Faculty of Humanities and leading presenter in this course sees real public value in this learning track:
"What is important to us is that society at large becomes involved in these kind of discussions and develop a sense of ethical and democratic control over and political responsibility for issues such as genetic privacy. This can only be achieved if people start to reflect on their own gut reaction and from there develop a personal perspective on genetic privacy within their own societal position and cultural background to empower themselves as responsible and engaged citizens."
You can read the full interview we did with Robert Zwijnenberg here.
Are you curious about these topics and do you want to join the debate? You can register for all three of the The Mind of the Universe learning experiences before 30 April, when the courses will start: