A unique collaboration between professor Michael Crawford in the Department of Biological Sciences, students enrolled in his Epigenetics course, and the Leddy Library’s Centre for Digital Scholarship, has led to the publication of a new book exploring the way our genes relate to our experiences of life.
Epigenetics and Society began as a project two years ago with strategic priority funding, designed to engage students in research, collaboration, editing, and writing in an area of study where writing was no longer as intense as in former years. Students had an opportunity to advertise and militate for attention to a topic of emerging scientific, health, economic, and social importance. After the writing was completed, relevant experts in the field reviewed each chapter.
“I wanted to provide a new and productive experience of science, and to encourage my students to think ‘outside the box.’ Epigenetics is a fascinating subject that will have mammoth implications for justice, ethics, social policy, reproductive politics, healthcare, law to name just a few subjects,” says Dr. Crawford. “What better way to encourage people to look beyond the science and to its importance in everyday life than to present the facts, ask demanding questions, and then maybe even offer some solutions?”
He says his class is on a mission: “Epigenetics is going to change how we look at our place in the world, and at our responsibilities to society, the environment, and to each other. We want to jumpstart the conversation.”
One of the student participants, Jess Hebert, says the project was one of the most enriching experiences of her undergraduate studies.
“I’m proud of being a part of it and increasing access to education about epigenetics and maybe even inspiring others to do research of their own,” she says. “This project flawlessly bridged the gap between just being a student and beginning to feel like a professional.”
Natalie Gosselin took the Epigenetics course in her fourth year of undergrad and is now doing her MSc working in Dr. John Hudson's lab at UWindsor. “I felt the experience writing the book was unlike any other course I took over the course of my education. The outcome of a published book is amazing and will likely help me to secure graduate scholarships for my own research. Dr. Crawford's work on this project has been inspiring and I'm truly proud to be associated with it and with the University of Windsor.”
Acting dean of the library Joan Dalton says the book project was an opportunity to collaborate and engage students as researchers and scholars in their own right. She was also excited to have it published electronically through its open-access service.
“We are able to leverage our open access distribution services as a way to help distribute the book quickly to the widest possible audience,” says Dalton. “The increased availability of print on demand services for those readers who want physical copies of the work is a bonus.”
Digital copies are available open access in Scholarship at UWindsor, where the work has already been downloaded 225 times across 36 countries. Print-on-demand copies can be purchased through Amazon.com. A public reception will launch the book on Friday, November 27, from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Leddy Library’s fourth-floor staff lounge.