News from Montgomery College

900 Hungerford Drive, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20850 

For Immediate Release (02-14)
Date: March 28, 2002 
Contact: Dave Willingham, 240-567-7970; Steve Simon, 240-567-7952

Montgomery College Town Meeting
to Explore Genetic Discrimination
Fourth Annual "Community Conversations"
Program April 17 at Rockville Campus

Experts, students, teachers, and the general public will wrestle verbally on Wednesday night, April 17 with one of the day’s most challenging issues, genetic discrimination and civil rights. The forum will be the Fourth Annual Town Meeting sponsored by the Community Conversations Program at Montgomery College.

So-called "gene-ism" is highly pertinent to today’s society, which must cope with the

availability of genetic tests by the thousands and the potential for widespread screening. The Community Conversations Town Meeting will explore ethical issues of fairness, equity, the right to privacy, and potential discrimination against genetic minorities.

The subject is a familiar one to keynote speaker Paul Lombardo, a law professor at the University of Virginia and Director of the Program in Law and Medicine at the Center for Biomedical Ethics. Lombardo has written about civil and reproductive rights violations of the past and their relevance to genetic discrimination today.

A panel of authorities on the subject will respond to and discuss Lombardo’s remarks, along with students and faculty members from Montgomery College and Walter Johnson and Walt Whitman high schools. Scheduled panelists are: Joan Weiss, co-director of the Human Genome Education Model Project and founding director of the Genetic Alliance; Gladys White, a nurse bioethicist at Georgetown University; and Rashidul Alam, professor of biology at Montgomery College.

Past Community Conversations program town meetings have featured vigorous discussion on such subjects as "The Biology and Psychology of Violence", "Ethical Issues of Genetic Technologies", and "Eugenics Issues of the Past and Future."

Community Conversations is an interdisciplinary learning community that includes Montgomery College students, along with those from Walt Whitman and Walter Johnson high schools.

Learners taking classes in biology, anthropology, women’s studies, philosophy, English, and speech read common background, then delve more deeply into the topic from their discipline’s perspective. Community Conversations members have been studying the "gene-ism" theme this semester and will put their learning to the test during the April 17 town meeting, which will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Theater Arts Arena on Montgomery College’s Rockville campus, 51 Mannakee Street.

The public is invited. For more information, call Professor David Kieffer at 240-567- 7791 or visit, click on calendar, and select April 17.

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