HPS240H1: The Influence of the Eugenics Movement on Contemporary Society


This course explores present-day topics such as reproductive issues (including “designer babies” and genetic counselling), gender, racism/colonialism, disability and euthanasia through the lens of the history of eugenics. A “scientific” movement which became popular around the world in the early twentieth century, eugenics was based on the principle that certain undesirable human characteristics were hereditary and could be eliminated by controlled reproduction. It resulted in the enactment of laws in numerous places, including Canada, authorizing coerced reproductive sterilization of certain individuals, and other measures intended to “improve” humanity. Today, we see its influences woven through contemporary debates, a number of which we will consider.

Society and its Institutions (3)