“Reproductive Politics” interdisciplinary course to explore the history and implications after Roe v. Wade – The Source

The abortion debate only intensified following Dobbs v. Jackson of the United States Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade and removed constitutional protections for abortion, returning the matter to the states. Since the ruling, 12 states have banned or severely restricted abortion care, and at least 10 other states have pending or pending bans.

In response, the Provost’s Office at Washington University in St. Louis is offering a new interdisciplinary course this fall that aims to provide students with a nuanced understanding of what led to the decision and the implications as the nation moves forward. in a post-Roe world.


During the semester, students in the 1.5-hour “Reproductive Politics” course (I50 INTER D 310) will explore topics such as reproductive health, law, disability, economics, film, politics, reproductive justice, and religion through a series of in-person events and public webinars featuring leading scholars from nearly every school as well as guest speakers. There will also be options to complete the job asynchronously.

When designing the course, Rebecca Wanzo, professor and chair of the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the Arts and Sciences, said she wanted to create a course that appealed to students of all backgrounds. disciplines and provides them with a variety of different knowledge. groundwork they need to think about this issue more holistically.

“I want people to recognize how debates around abortion touch just about every aspect of life, and that’s one of the things that interdisciplinary thinking helps you do,” Wanzo said. .

“We are fortunate to have such luminaries on campus, scholars like Marie Griffith, author of the book ‘Moral Combat’; Susan Appleton, a nationally recognized expert in family law and feminist legal theory; and Zakiya Luna, an influential opinion leader on reproductive justice.

The course launched in July with a public event where Tessa Madden, MD, and Dineo Khabele, MD, of the School of Medicine discussed what reproductive health looks like after Dobbs. The event has been recorded so students can watch it asynchronously. Additional speakers include:

  • Anca Parvulescu, Rachel Brown and Shanti Parikh, in arts and sciences, and Mytheli Sreenivas, at Ohio State University, on abortion rights in other countries;
  • Jessica Levy, at the Brown School, on public health, motherhood and poverty; and
  • Diana O’Brien, in Arts & Sciences, on legislative policy and abortion.

Bringing together these various internationally renowned researchers in a single course is a unique opportunity for students.

“‘Reproductive Politics’ is meant to be an exploratory course that gives people time to think about issues in ways that might be difficult for them or out of their comfort zone.”

Rebecca Wanzo

“‘Reproductive Politics’ is meant to be an exploratory course that gives people time to think about issues in ways that might be difficult for them or out of their comfort zone,” Wanzo said.

Rather than avoiding sensitive topics, Wanzo said the class will tackle them head-on, drawing on a variety of research and scholarship ranging from economists to religious and legal scholars, philosophers and more. People from all political backgrounds are welcome to take the course; however, all students should engage in respectful conversation around these issues, just as they do in other classrooms.

“Because that’s what we do, as members of the university community. We model better forms of debate and conversation than perhaps we see elsewhere in our culture,” Wanzo said.

In the final session, faculty members from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the McKelvey School of Engineering will lead students through a workshop where they reflect on what they want the reproductive future to look like. for themselves and for the world at large.

In Saint-Louis, for Saint-Louis and beyond

The “Politics of Reproduction” course was inspired by another popular pop-up interdisciplinary course, “The Pandemic: Science and Society,” offered by Arts & Sciences in the summer of 2020. Over 1,200 students have taken this online course. Although this course is on a smaller scale – as it takes place while students have other course options – it is still designed to give as many students as possible the opportunity to take the course, Wanzo said. .

Many of the lectures this semester will be open and accessible to the public, allowing the university to share its knowledge and expertise with the community and help advance discourse on the issues, Wanzo explained.

“In developing this course, we are modeling what the future of academia may offer, where academic communities come together across diverse disciplines to think through complex issues – not just for its precious little community, but for society,” said said Wanzo.

This course would not be possible without the support of the provost’s office and faculty members, Wanzo said.

“The overwhelming majority of faculty members were happy to participate in this collaborative project, and I am deeply grateful to them,” she added.

“A university has a responsibility to prepare students for citizenship and provide them with opportunities to think deeply about the issues that matter. This course will give students a wider range of tools to discuss and understand one of the most pressing topics today. »