Author Archive: Patricia Stapleton

Stories to watch: genetic engineering in 2016

The last months of 2015 brought genetic engineering back to the front pages with several major news stories, particularly the FDA’s approval of genetically engineered salmon and breakthroughs in the use of Crispr-Cas9 (a gene-editing technology). Often when I talk to people about my research, they want to know if GMOs are safe to eat, but the debate over GMOs – and genetic engineering more broadly – is much bigger than questions of scientific risk assessment and management. These two recent stories highlight how much the debate focuses on questions of ethics too. I’ve talked a little about Crispr before, so let’s turn to genetically engineered (GE) salmon. Scientists have been working on GE salmon for over two decades, however…

From French lit to biotech regulation…

Inevitably when people find out I started a PhD in French literature before switching to political science, I hear: “You were a lit major? How’d you end up here?” In my mind, the route from French to political science is actually very clear! But sometimes I come across an article that helps me explain it better. Carl Zimmer reported in The New York Times last week on how the “Editing of Pig DNA May Lead to More Organs for People.” Zimmer writes about a new method for editing genes, called Crispr, that presents the possibility of altering pig DNA in a way that would allow doctors to successfully transplant pig organs into humans. Andrew Pollack has discussed Crispr and its…

#IRiA #SocialMedia

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been writing about my Topics in International Politics for the Active Learning in Political Science site. My first posts examined the structure of the IRiA Simulation and how I evaluated its use in my course. After the first round in Spring 2014, I reconfigured the assignments for the course based on student feedback. While they were enthusiastic about the course and sim, the students reported that there was a bit of a disconnect between the first half of the course – structured around lectures, discussion, and in-class activities – and the second half in which we played the game. As a result, I was motivated to restructure the course calendar and to redesign…

Biopolitics & Utopia: An Interdisciplinary Reader

It’s finally here! I’m very excited to announce that my most recent edited collection, Biopolitics and Utopia: An Interdisciplinary Reader, is now out from Palgrave Macmillan. Andrew Byers, a visiting assistant professor in History at Duke University, and I worked hard on bringing together an excellent group of contributors from the US, Canada, Malaysia, and Australia. The project grew out of a panel Andrew and I put together for the Society for Utopian Studies Conference in 2013. The focus of the panel was “Biopolitics and Utopian/Dystopian Politics”. For readers looking to understand what we mean by “biopolitics”, we think of the concept as the strategies pursued and the actions taken by the state to control its citizens at the “level…

Experiential Learning in STEP

I’ve unfortunately had little time to keep up with research-related blogposts, in part because of all the research I’ve been doing! But I’ve also been busy with some amazing teaching opportunities. In the last six months, I’ve had the chance to participate in experiential learning and project-based learning programs with WPI students in San Cristobal, Guatemala, and London, England. I’m currently the Associate Editor of the bimonthly newsletter, STEP Ahead, for the Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics Section of APSA, and I wrote about my experience in Guatemala and reflections on experiential learning for our March edition, which I’m sharing below. More will follow on the London trip! ~~~~~ Experiential learning may seem like just another buzzword among higher education…

A Greener Walmart?

Last month, Walmart announced “its commitment to create a more sustainable food system.” As The New York Times noted in its report on the announcement, Walmart is “the United States’ largest grocer, and food is its biggest business. So it has enormous clout with food producers and food processing companies…” As a major player, if Walmart succeeds in its “four pillar” initiatives, its efforts can have a significant impact on how food is produced and sold in the US. The four pillars (affordable, accessible, healthier, safe & transparent) touch upon the main aspects of our food system, namely consumer rights, food safety, and public health issues. This kind of initiative highlights how big corporations can create standards that exceed the…

Assessing Learning Outcomes of IRiA Sim

I recently guest-blogged on the Active Learning in Political Science website, giving an overview of the International Relations in Action simulation that I incorporated into my GOV 1320: Topics in International Politics course that I teach at WPI. There’s a new follow-up piece addressing the issue of assessing the learning outcomes of using sims, and specifically pondering how I should assess learning outcomes for this particular sim. Please check it out!

Overview of the IRiA Simulation

At WPI, I’m slated to teach an intro to International Relations course (GOV 1320: Topics in International Politics) every year. Although I’ve taught the class about half a dozen times before at Brooklyn College, it was in a traditional semester format. To rebuild it to fit WPI’s 7-week terms, I decided to implement a longer-term simulation in class to get students into applying theories and concepts almost immediately. I’ll be writing about the experience over on the Active Learning in Political Science site in the next month or so. And the first post is up!

Debating Paid Surrogacy

The New York Times has recently published a series of articles on assisted reproductive technology and on surrogacy in particular. “Room for Debate” has hosted a discussion on surrogacy, with five experts weighing in on the legal and ethical ramifactions of the practice. An article from September 17th further highlights the piecemeal regulatory approach we have in the US for dealing with surrogacy and surrogate contracts. The author, Tamar Lewin, notes that “Seventeen states have laws permitting surrogacy, but they vary greatly in both breadth and restrictions. In 21 states, there is neither a law nor a published case regarding surrogacy…” The wide disparity among state regulations leaves potential parents vulnerable to contract violations. Moreover, the vast differences among states…

Battening Down the Hatches

I’m excited to announce that my team’s proposal, “Battening Down the Hatches: Major Storms & Community Resilience,” was accepted by InTeGrate through SERC (the Science Education Research Center at Carleton College). InTeGrate is “a community program, a collaboration between faculty in the sciences and other disciplines, educational specialists, and evaluation experts at a diverse group of institutions,” which focuses on interdisciplinary methods for teaching about the Earth and sustainability. The “Battening Down the Hatches” team is made up of a geoscientist in New Hampshire, an emergency management specialist in New York, and myself – a political scientist in Massachusetts. We will spend the next two years creating, piloting, and revising a teaching module that focuses on the risks and hazards…