Sex , Gender , and the Brain : A Non-Majors Course Linking Neuroscience and Women s Studies

Kristina S Mead


This article describes a non-majors biology class linking neuroscience and womens studies. The class had 24 students from 13 majors. We met for three classroom hours and three laboratory hours each week. We used animal and human case studies to explore issues of gender, sexuality, hormones, anatomy, biochemistry, behavior and environment to explore the differences and similarities between male and female brains. Reading focused on two major texts, Roughgardens Evolutions Rainbow and Hiness Brain Gender, and primary literature referenced within. Student performance was assessed through exams, class participation, presentations of primary literature, and independent research projects with oral and written presentations. The cross-listing with womens studies improved the class because it led to a great richness of majors and experiences. Furthermore, these students were used to vehement discussion and careful analysis, which carried over to assessing the primary literature, to a surprising degree.

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