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Identity in the Age of Ancestral DNA

Open your mind to new concepts of personal identity as you look at the scientific and cultural dimensions of DNA ancestry and what it can reveal about us.
Identity in the Age of Ancestral DNA is rated 3.2 out of 5 by 22.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative I've had an 8-year interest in Ancestral DNA, and this course has been very informative. Dr. Foeman's presentation is easy to understand, and the personal stories add interest.
Date published: 2021-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Masterful Course This was both a fascinating and timely course. Dr. Foeman explores identity at various different levels, using ancestral DNA testing as a introduction to the much broader topic of how we see ourselves, how we want others to see us and how we fit into our genetic (and cultural) make-up. I was intrigued by all 12 lessons but, even more, I was captivated by the skill and enthusiasm of Dr. Foeman. She is a marvelous teacher.
Date published: 2021-10-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting Basically addresses the mental impact on some people when receiving their ancestral DNA results. Can be surprising to some. The lecturer is top notch and interesting. The course is more societal than biological. I enjoyed it.
Date published: 2021-10-28
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very disappointed I have been a customer of the Teaching Company for nearly 30 years and always found them of the highest academic quality. After listening to 60% of it, I finally quit. This is the first course that I have not been able to finish. I found the treatment of the topic offensive and unnecessarily divisive. It wasn't even on topic. The course is entitled Identity in the Age of Ancestral DNA but it spends very little time discussing that topic and instead uses the course as a vehicle to cover racial issues in society and history. Nearly every lecture devolves into some point about black people being put down. If this course had been titled "Racism and Genetics throughout history" Then it may get higher marks. Further, the technical information on genetics and DNA is not correct. Discussions of gene editing make it clear that the speaker is not a scientist since she does not present how it works correctly. This is a social issues course masquerading as a genetics/genealogy course.
Date published: 2021-10-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Too little science The focus of the course is on identity and race; however, i was hoping for a better scientific grounding in ancestry methods and interpretation. It might be good for many but missed the mark for me.
Date published: 2021-10-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not technical enough Not what I was hoping for. I was looking for an explanation of haplogroups and other examples of what genes identified my profile. The individual stories of some of the students was interesting, but I couldn't relate to alot of the other lectures in the course
Date published: 2021-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Educational. Enlightening. I am glad I bought this course. I find it educational and enlightening. I enjoy “finding your roots” on TV. It is fascinating how ancestors are traced generations far back several generations . Thank you.
Date published: 2021-10-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from In Depth Exploration of Ancestral Identity Issues I got sucked in because I thought this was going to be a course specifically on ancestral DNA; maybe going over some of the issues regarding the origins of different groups that were raised in books like Bryan Sykes's "The Seven Daughters of Eve". I had read that book and enjoyed it. Admittedly, I would have preferred such a course, and I wasn't really looking for a sociological course at the time, so I understand the sentiments some had about a so-called misleading title (not really misleading but I'm sure I wasn't the only one drawn in by the ancestral DNA part). However, I deeply enjoyed the course. I watched each lecture and there were some that were a little long-winded, but many brought up interesting topics with significant insights. It really made me want to get my DNA tested and explore the subject in more depth. I thought the presenter was engaging and articulate. I would recommend it for those interested in complex topics of identity but not so much for those wanting an exploration of the origins of human groups and their geographic history through the lens of DNA.
Date published: 2021-09-16
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Overview

Who do you think you are? In the 12 fascinating lessons of Identity in the Age of Ancestral DNA, Anita Foeman, PhD, Professor of Communication and Media, and founder and primary investigator of the DNA Discussion Project at West Chester University, takes us behind the scenes to examine what really happens when individuals receive their personal DNA ancestry results. By learning about their individual and family reactions, we learn more about our own identity narratives as well.

About

Anita Foeman
Anita Foeman

There’s nothing more intriguing than unlocking the mysteries of our history, heritage, and lineage and learning who we are and what we’re made of.

INSTITUTION

West Chester University

Anita Foeman is a Professor of Communication and Media at West Chester University. She received her PhD in Communication Studies from Temple University.

Anita’s scholarly work explores diversity in different facets of society, and she has 30 years of experience in diversity and leadership consulting for educational, government, and private agencies. Her research examines identity based on new ancestry DNA data, with findings and advice gathered in a book cowritten with Bessie Lee Lawton titled Who Am I? Identity in the Age of Consumer DNA Testing. She has also been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Here & Now on NPR, BBC Newshour, National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Explorer, and NOVA

https://www.wcupa.edu/DNADiscussion/

By This Professor

Identity in the Age of Ancestral DNA
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Identity in the Age of Ancestral DNA

Trailer

Your Ancestry, Your Identity

01: Your Ancestry, Your Identity

Do your genes determine (or even define) your essential nature and identity? Or do you build your own identity, ignoring or actively working against your genetic makeup? Explore the essentialist and constructed philosophies and discover how you might incorporate aspects of both into your own view of personal identity.

31 min
What Genetic Testing Brings to Ancestry

02: What Genetic Testing Brings to Ancestry

Labs that provide DNA ancestry information use hundreds of thousands of ancestry-information markers (AIMs)—the mutations in our DNA that help trace the paths of our ancestors. Learn about the AIMs that relate to major identifiable lineages, as well as what can be gleaned from mitochondrial DNA and Y-DNA.

29 min
Sensitive Approaches to Ancestry Results

03: Sensitive Approaches to Ancestry Results

There are many social issues affecting an individual’s emotional response to receiving DNA ancestry results—old attitudes about race and interracial relationships, adoption, children born out of wedlock, and more. Explore how the reciprocal engagement method can help families face unexpected ancestry results and get some tips to consider before ordering your own test.

28 min
When Family Narrative Meets Genetic Testing

04: When Family Narrative Meets Genetic Testing

People want a family narrative that is cohesive, useful, identity-supporting, and will give them the best chance for social survival. DNA just “wants” to move itself forward and is completely neutral on issues of race, subterfuge, or social connection. Explore how to create a strategic family narrative to incorporate the scientific facts of your DNA ancestry results.

30 min
Privacy versus Connection in DNA Testing

05: Privacy versus Connection in DNA Testing

From the now-famous case of Henrietta Lacks to that of the Hagahai people of Papua New Guinea, scientists and government agencies have a history of bad actions with respect to biological samples. With millions of DNA samples now in existence, learn about the laws and programs now in place to protect privacy. Is it enough?

30 min
The DNA Discussion Project Research

06: The DNA Discussion Project Research

Learn about the DNA Discussion Project, its goals, and current results regarding the ways in which DNA ancestry tests are changing identity. Do unanticipated test results cause individuals to change their formal census designation? Do people share their DNA ancestry results with family and friends? And what are the broader social implications of those decisions?

29 min
How Genograms Reveal Your Ancestry

07: How Genograms Reveal Your Ancestry

A genogram is a graphic tool used to explore family history and relationships over a two- to three-generation period. Discover the powerful information that can be conveyed through a genogram—particularly the quality of relationships between family members—as opposed to the traditional family tree diagram.

26 min
Gaining Insight through Your Genetics

08: Gaining Insight through Your Genetics

Although thousands of babies are born each year with the assistance of various reproductive technologies, the science seems to be ahead of our ability to fully comprehend the consequences. Explore this issue by meeting Maria, who learned as a teenager that she was born with the help of intrauterine insemination. How does that knowledge affect an adolescent’s identity?

29 min
Designer Babies and DNA Ancestry

09: Designer Babies and DNA Ancestry

CRISPR, a relatively new gene-editing technology, has tremendous potential to cure genetic diseases. However, the power to alter a human genome could also be used to create “designer babies.” Explore the significant issues that need to be discussed broadly in the culture to avoid unintended consequences, including a replay of historical US laws promoting eugenics.

29 min
Personalized Medicine and Your Genome

10: Personalized Medicine and Your Genome

Medicine based on an individual’s genome hopes to solve numerous disease issues before long. But given that personal identity is much more than any genome, could the “personal” be left out of “personalized” medicine? Explore the issues of epigenetics that must be considered so that larger social determinants of health are not ignored in favor of genetics alone.

30 min
Levels of Your Identity

11: Levels of Your Identity

What happens when your DNA ancestry says one thing, but you feel something else entirely? Can a white man find his true home in the Black community? Can a Japanese woman find an American identity that finally “fits”? Discover the complexity of identity levels by exploring the notorious case of Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who became a self-proclaimed Black activist.

31 min
Making Art with DNA Ancestry

12: Making Art with DNA Ancestry

Explore the relationship between DNA ancestry and identity via the artwork of photographer Brooklyn McTavish. Beginning with an individual’s DNA ancestry readout, the artist explores the individual’s responses, emotions, and remaining questions. He then creates images with layers of meaning that are often difficult to convey with the explicit statements of language.

27 min