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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Engineering Life: Synbio, Bioethics & Public Policy by Johns Hopkins University

68 ratings

About the Course

Synbio is a diverse field with diverse applications, and the different contexts (e.g., gain-of-function research, biofuels) raise different ethical and governance challenges. The objective of this course is to increase learners’ awareness and understanding of ethical and policy/governance issues that arise in the design, conduct and application of synthetic biology. The course will begin with a short history of recombinant DNA technology and how governance of that science developed and evolved, and progress through a series of areas of application of synbio. Content will be presented in many forms, including not only reading and lectures, but also recorded and live interviews and discussions with scientists, ethicists and policy makers. Learners will have the opportunity to think, write and talk about the issues and challenges in their own work and in real-life case examples. A final project will engage students in the development of governance models for synbio....

Top reviews


Jul 27, 2017

fun and interesting course. very well taught by somebody obviously knowledgeable. Thanks so much.


Jun 15, 2017

Highly thought-provoking. One of the most interesting classes I have taken on Coursera.

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1 - 21 of 21 Reviews for Engineering Life: Synbio, Bioethics & Public Policy

By Pranjali B

Mar 12, 2020

correct marks are not being updated in quizzes

By Juan C G P

Mar 3, 2019

This course has further deepened my passion for bioethics!

Debra JH Mathews delivers the course in a way that makes you feel confident that you can face such difficult questions and the material is very well-chosen and explained.

Thank you for this course!

By George

Nov 29, 2020

Very insightful course for young scientists and engineers to understand bioethics!

By Alexis N

Sep 12, 2018

Dr. Matthews is a fantastic instructor; Slide deck is great.

By Preesha C A

Aug 5, 2020

for some reason I was not getting any feedback on my week 1 quiz, and I tried the quiz so many times and i got the same 60 percent which was unbelievable since I prepared for the quiz, this has been throwing me off

By Michelle B

Sep 22, 2020

many tecchnical problems including grading, several of the readings are no longer on the web where she had linked them (i.e she shouldve uploaded or scanned etc)

potentially fascinating but a total waste of money and time because of all of the technical difficulties as well as the missing links.

By Deleted A

Jun 2, 2020

Bad course design.

By Claudio C

Jan 15, 2022

If you are looking for a well-structured course, with consistent bibliographic references and a competent instructor willing to share his knowledge, this is the course for you. Here you will better understand how deep an analysis must be when it involves science, human rights and public policy for decision-making that considers all stakeholders. Enjoy it.

By Vanessa L

Apr 15, 2018

I really enjoyed taking this course. It was very interesting and informative for me. The course allowed me to get a deeper and more broad points of view about the topics of ethical issues related to synthetic biology and biotechnology. Thank you professor Debra Mathews and to all involved in this course!

By Víctor B R

May 21, 2021

Excellent course, I really liked it, I am actually studying Biotechnology and didn't know anything that was taught here. I think that either you are studying the theme or not it is important and may be aplicable for other subjects.


Jul 28, 2017

fun and interesting course. very well taught by somebody obviously knowledgeable. Thanks so much.

By José E M A

May 12, 2018

I really enjoyed this course, excellent explanations and very good class material.

By Alejandra I C H

Nov 6, 2020

Great course! Learn a lot of new information about governance in Synbio.

By Mauricio M P

Aug 14, 2020

Great topics to review bioethics from a bunch of perspectives.

By Mario T Z

Mar 28, 2021

Nice and well done course!!!

By Nishant J

Nov 27, 2018

Nice experience

By Jonathan G

Feb 24, 2018

fascinating course about genetics and disease. However, it's kind of a no-brainer to know that their unethical and ethical ways to use genetics. Lord knows some mad scientist is going to use this technology to create a new disease or some sort of Frankenstein to unleash upon the world.

By Joy S

Nov 7, 2019

pretty good class. kind of technical but gives one some good stuff to think about

By Tito R

Jul 6, 2022

Awesome course!

By Caleb S

Dec 25, 2022

I was excited to take this class, but upon completion, I can't say that I learned much at all. The course tends to focus on interviews/history of events in synthetic biology without spending nearly enough time on the overarching theme on why they are ethical issues. It's OK to teach the history of the field as a way to better understand the present, but the purpose of learning ethics is so that we can understand how we should handle these issues in the present and the future, which this class seemed to miss. There were also lots of editing mistakes where the professor seemed to pause and readjust herself for a post-edit that never came. In one video, there were two different audio segments that overlapped each other throughout almost the entire lecture. This is not a course I would recommend to anyone.

By Derek L

Jul 26, 2022

I can't pass week one and can't move on.