New human biotechnologies and the emerging generation
Monday 25 July 2011,


A main priority of the Tarrytown Meetings initiative is to consider how diverse aspects of people’s identity (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, etc.) contribute to shaping orientations and views toward human biotechnologies and the issues they raise. The generational factor (perhaps simplified as “age”) is seen by many to be a variable of particular importance, in part because cultural norms, relationships and understandings with regard to technology change so drastically from generation to generation. This was addressed at last year’s meeting during the “Intergenerational Challenges” panel as well as the informal discussion among the younger/early-career Tarrytown Meeting cohort.

Proposed goals for an "Emerging Leaders" project, which have come up in several conversations and conference calls, include:

  • Reach out to a broad network of students and other young people
  • Create an accessible space for open discussion on the social and societal impacts of human genetic biotechnologies
  • Create an appealing output, which looks to bring human biotechnological issues onto the agenda of other groups and individuals from the emerging generation that are concerned about social justice, human rights, science and society, genetics, civil rights, environmental justice, and other issues where there is significant overlap
  • Shift focus away from “for young people, by young people” and move towards a means for including educators and other interested in examining both the views and engagement of the emerging generation, and seeing what we can do to make those conversations more robust.
  • Expand our capacity for exchanging ideas around these issues – the content itself, educational and careers opportunities, events, etc.

Project proposal for discussion at Tarrytown: Create a web-based platform where contributors can post interesting media items (photos, articles, videos, books reviews, etc.) and commentary with the intention of engaging and opening dialogue between like-minded student groups and creating an interactive blog and online resource library.

Collaborate within the Tarrytown group to launch and promote this web-based “blog-esque” forum for discussing, informing and reflecting on biopolitical issues around human genetics and technology.  The site could be set up so that each post would require a short commentary (by the poster), which broadly addresses two questions (these aren't final, but something general and discussion-provoking, like):  Why is this important to you?  And, what is at stake for social justice and the common good?

Commentaries could be as personal, general, technical or political as one chooses.  The general motivation of the posts, however, should be to highlight and explicate a consequential genetic/biotechnological issue from a social justice perspective.  Contributors could use the site as a medium for sparking discussion and exploring ideas and concerns about such issues.  It would be good to discuss how we would like this web format to be different than a blog.  It seems like it would be useful to set it up to be less about the original poster, and more about creating springboards for discussion.

Once we have a platform set up with a base of posts submitted by those directly involved with Tarrytown, we hope to reach out to a number of student groups, pitching our project and asking for their participation.  The initial outreach component for this project would involve putting together a list of student groups dealing with bioethical and other issues related where there might be overlap. 

The idea will be to use the platform as a way to bring these issues onto their group’s agenda and to spark reactions and dialogues.  Our hope is that this will develop relationships between these groups, providing a common forum to share opinions on real-time biotech issues.  This, we hope, could lead to video conferences, webinars, campus meet-ups or other useful exchanges between the groups and emerging leaders (and others) in the Tarrytown network.  We hope that this could be a useful resource for educators and ultimately help bring the Tarrytown meetings’ set of issues onto the agendas for key groups of emerging leaders working in similar fields of interest.

For more information on the emerging leaders session, please contact Doug Pet at or Brendan Parent at

Documents Related to This Session