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seminars > spring 2014 schedule > seminar: Race, Intelligence and Eugenics: For Whom the Bell Curve Chimes


Honors Seminars Spring 2014

Race, Intelligence and Eugenics: For Whom the Bell Curve Chimes

HON 398 Sec:001  
2 hours  
GEP Category:
Not currently in a GEP category  
CH 205  
Ms. Carolyn P. Veale

The link between race and intelligence has been a subject of discussion and debate in academic research since the creation and distribution of intelligence quotient (IQ) testing in the early 20th century. There is no widely accepted formal definition of either race or intelligence in academia. Discussions connecting race and intelligence involves studies from multiple disciplines, including psychology, anthropology, biology, and sociology. Techniques have been employed to support and justify beliefs in racism, racial inferiority, and racial superiority. Human populations have been classified into physically discrete human races that supposedly separate the superior and inferior.

Biological theories of race are linked to eugenics. Eugenics is the study of a belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction of persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics). Eugenics was a branch of the life sciences that drove much of American social policy in the early twentieth century. The Nazis gave eugenics its negative connotations, but the practice and the science that supports it has its historical roots in the United States and in particular for poor people and people of color in American and in North Carolina. Over 8,000 sterilizations were approved by the Eugenics Board of North Carolina. This seminar examines the scientific and social trends that supported the movement to view the human race as fit and eliminate those that were classified as unfit (Race and Intelligence). This seminar will take a look at race and intelligence, scientific racism, and eugenics and its impact on society and in particular the state of North Carolina.