Skip to main content

Year 10 IDU Genetics: Eugenics

IDU covering eugenics, gene manipulation and bioethics.

What is Eugenics?

Eugenics is a movement that is aimed at improving the genetic composition of the human race.

Historically, eugenicists advocated selective breeding to achieve these goals. Today we have technologies that make it possible to more directly alter the genetic composition of an individual. However, people differ in their views on how to best (and ethically) use this technology.

What is genetics?

Genetic information lies within the cell nucleus of each living cell in the body. Genetics is the study of heredity. Heredity is a biological process where a parent passes certain genes onto their children or offspring. Every child inherits genes from both of their biological parents and these genes in turn express specific traits. Some of these traits may be physical for example hair and eye color and skin color etc. On the other hand some genes may also carry the risk of certain diseases and disorders that may pass on from parents to their offspring.



Foundations of Eugenics


Sir Francis Galton - Father of Eugenics: cousin of Darwin decided to experiment on twins just as Nazi Joseph Mengele experimented on three thousand sets of twins at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The volume isn't great on this video, but it is interesting the issues that it raises.

Eugenics, Abortion and Genetics: This video looks at the history of Eugenics and it is an interesting talk on how it has developed. Although the title mentions abortion, there isn't a lot of talk about it.

Scientific Racism The Eugenics of Social Darwinism: BBC Documentary, talks about the history of Eugenics and has a segment on the settlement of Tasmania.

History of Eugenics

Francis Galton is classed as the father of Eugenics. A pioneer in eugenics, and coined the phrase "nature versus nurture". His book Hereditary Genius (1869) was the first social scientific attempt to study genius and greatness.

What is the Groningen Protocol?

The Groningen Protocol was developed in order to assist with the decision making process when considering actively ending the life of a newborn, by providing the information required to assess the situation within a legal and medical framework