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Human Genetics and Engagement with Religious Publics

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On October 16th, Dr. Ting Wu, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and director and co-founder of the Personal Genomics Education Project (PgEd) (, discussed strategies for engaging with the general public on genetics and other science topics at the 2018 American Society for Human Genetics (ASHG) annual conference. She focused on sharing social contexts, examples, and strategies for communication with clarity and sensitivity to different worldviews. Dr. Wu’s talk also highlighted best practices for constructive engagement and collaboration by geneticists and clinicians with the general public, and specifically religious communities. The presentation was given before an Engaging Scientists workshop, organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) Program.


About the Presentation and Workshop

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
American Society for Human Genetics (ASHG) Annual Conference
San Diego, CA

ASHG meeting attendees were invited to a free breakfast and ancillary event workshop on Science Communication and Engagement with Religious Publics, developed as a collaboration between the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program and the Center for Public Engagement on Science and Technology, both situated within the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

After introductory remarks by guest presenter Dr. Ting Wu, director and co-founder of Harvard University’s Personal Genomics Education (PgEd) project, DoSER staff lead participants through an overview of why it is important to consider religious cultures and identities in science engagement, and present some strategies and best practices for effective dialogue. The workshop included moderated discussion and a small-group exercise to respond to a challenging question or scenario with peers. While the focus of the workshop is on dialogue with religious publics, the content is relevant and applicable to effective science communication with a broad range of audiences.

Participant objectives included:

  1. learning why dialogue with religious/spiritual publics is important for effective public science engagement;
  2. discussions on potential barriers to engagement with religious publics on genetic topics and issues; and
  3. understanding social science perspectives on science communication and faith in the US.

This workshop was part of an effort to support the membership of five prominent physical and life science societies (including the AGU and ASHG) in constructive dialogue with a broad spectrum of publics, and particularly with religious communities.

Read more about the Engaging Scientists Project here