Skip to main content
This program is over. Hope you didn't miss it!

Genomic Politics: Scientific Breakthroughs, Polarizing Controversies

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, February 10, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0204
Select your Tickets
Powered by Zoom

Jennifer Hochschild

The emergence of genomic science in the last quarter century has revolutionized medicine, the justice system, and our understanding of who we are. Genomics is used to determine guilt and exonerate the falsely convicted; devise new medicines; test embryos; and discover our ethnic and national roots. Yet, as Harvard University professor Jennifer Hochschild points out, the uses of genomic science are both politically charged and hotly contested.

Hochschild observes that divisions around genomics do not follow the usual left–right ideological split that dominates most of American politics. Instead, the phenomenon is polarizing in novel ways. Advocates argue that innovative applications rooted in genomic science will make life better, while opponents point out the potential for misuse—from bioterrorism to racial profiling to "selecting out" fetuses that gene tests show to have conditions like Down syndrome.

Hochschild examines why the divide hinges on answers to two questions: How significant are genetic factors in explaining human traits and behaviors? And what is the right balance between risk acceptance and risk avoidance for a society grappling with innovations arising from genomic science?

At Harvard, Hochschild is the Henry LaBarre Jayne professor of government as well as a professor of African and African American studies. She is a former president of the American Political Science Association.

Her book Genomic Politics: How the Revolution in Genomic Science Is Shaping American Society (Oxford University Press) is available for purchase.

Book Sale Information

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.