Dare to Discuss: Genetic Engineering

Veritas 2018 is Coming!

By Joost Kaptein

Have you ever wondered what the world would look like if babies came forth from a process of human design? What if children were born based on the specifications of both parents, instead of being the result of a random genetic mixture?

In the past decades, mankind has taken big leaps towards a reality where scientists can change the genetic structure of any living creature, and from a technical perspective, we might very well be on the doorstep of editing the human genome. But before we take this step, we should look at the matter from a different perspective. Do we really want to be in charge of the way our offspring look, or maybe even how they think? These and more questions will play a role in the upcoming Veritas Forum, held on 28th of February in the Burgerzaal.

Forum February 20, 2014: Veritas Forum Middelburg presents 'Me or My Brain?' (C) Anissa Jousset
Forum February 20, 2014: Veritas Forum Middelburg presents ‘Me or My Brain?’
(C) Anissa Jousset

Those who have spent some time at UCR will recognize the Veritas Forum to be a well-known annual event, with this year’s forum being the 7th edition. For newer students, the forum might need a short introduction. The goal of the event is to discuss questions regarding different statements in subjects such as ethics and religion, considering how these concepts interact with different scientific or social developments. Through the format of a between two experts of different backgrounds, the Veritas Forum team wants to encourage the audience to reflect on different worldviews, and develop their own perspectives. While there is a strong emphasis on debate, the aim of the Forum is to involve the audience, too. During the debate, you will have the chance to ask questions, and there will be the opportunity to discuss the topic with the speakers and fellow students afterwards, during drinks at Elliott.

This year, the debaters are Ellen ter Gast and Henk Jochemsen. Dr. Ellen ter Gast is medical biologist and philosopher. During her time as an ethics instructor, she wrote a dissertation on “biotech mice”, and has appeared on Dutch TV multiple times to discuss ethical questions related to genome editing. Prof. Dr. Henk Jochemsen is professor of Christian Philosophy at Wageningen University.  Focusing on the philosophy and ethics of new technology, he has held multiple positions dealing with medical ethics. Jochemsen was involved in the establishment of the Lindeboom Institute, a center for medical ethics that deals with questions regarding medical interference with human life. During the forum, they will discuss important considerations regarding genome editing from their own professional and personal backgrounds. UCR professor Dr. Ger Rijkers shall give a short introduction to the world of genetic engineering, and the debate will be moderated by Dr. Arjan van Dixhoorn.

The Veritas Forum is a provocative event, organized to challenge one’s worldview regarding topics that are of relevance to all of us. It will take place on the 28th of February in the Burgerzaal, starting at 20:00. After the forum, stick around to continue discussion in Elliott, accompanied by a free drink! Be sure to like our Facebook page to stay updated. The event will take place in English, and all are more than welcome at the Veritas Forum, regardless of any prior knowledge on the topic!

For more information, please contact the Veritas Forum Middelburg 2018 team: Adriana Kerkstra, Christian Malone, Gerjanne Hoek, Joost Kaptein, Mariska de Boer, and Marit Versteeg.

Joost Kaptein, Class of 2020, is a Computer Science, Cognitive Science, and Psychology Major from Molenaarsgraaf, the Netherlands.

Feature image courtesy of Veritas Forum Middelburg 2018.

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