Spring 2011 -
Undergraduate Course Description
Discipline and Number
4:00 PM - 6:45 PM
|Perspectives on Science - SCIED
Description of Course:
Where did science come from? How did human beings begin to make sense of the natural world and their part in it? How are the same processes of imagination, invention and discovery still at work today in shaping human cultures’ understanding of natural phenomena? What roles did those from various knowledge bases and “disciplinary” backgrounds play in the evolution of science?
In this interdisciplinary history course we will ask those questions (and more!) as we read and discuss texts of natural philosophy, the history of science, scientific biography and literature. We will trace the origins and development of western science and its construction of natural knowledge from the ancient world through the near present. From philosophical, scientific and literary points of view, we will explore whether there was any such thing as the “Scientific Revolution,” and if so, how the “revolutionary” changes in world views influenced human life on social, political and personal levels. How do scientific ideas and technological developments continue to transform our minds, bodies and lives today?
The central inquiries of this class will focus on these questions: What is “nature”? What is “natural”? What is “supernatural”? How have our definitions of such concepts changed over time and altered our ideas about what it means to be “human”? Do we “discover” order in the universe or do we “invent” it? How have the relationships between (and relative values and roles of ) imagination, faith and reason shifted from the ancient world through the early modern period into the present? With what consequences?
Class meetings will include lecture, discussion, films and student presentations as we examine developments in magic and alchemy, astronomy and cosmology, natural history, the history of medicine, life sciences, and experimental science. NO TECHNICAL or SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND IS REQUIRED.
Student research projects and presentations will focus on connecting the historical and literary “perspectives” on the Sci. Rev. presented in class to modern (18thc to contemporary) developments in science, through a relevant scientific biography or autobiography, work of “literary science” or text about inventions, technology or mathematics (students’ choice). UTeach program participants will create lesson plans and a matching in-class presentation (“mini-lesson”) that incorporate relevant supplementary materials. Other students will write a 5 pp analytic and interpretative paper, with the option of also doing a presentation for extra credit.
REQUIRED TEXTS -- literature and science:
Marlowe, Christopher, Dr Faustus
Baigrie, Brian, Scientific Revolutions: Primary Texts in the History of Science (selections)
Appleman, Philip, ed., Darwin (selections)
Feynman, Richard, Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman
Watson, James, The Double Helix
REQUIRED TEXTS – history and philosophy of science:
Crowe, Michael, Theories of the Worlds: From Antiquity to the Copernican Revolution (selections)
Dear, Peter, The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World
Gleick, James, Isaac Newton
Holmes, Richard, The Age of Wonder (selections)
Shapin, Steven, The Scientific Revolution
2 HOUR or ELECTRONIC RESERVE
Hankins, Thomas, Science and the Enlightenment (2 hour reserve; may also be purchased at Half-Price Books)
Women in Science, selected articles (on electronic reserve)
ADDITIONAL REQUIRED TEXT (STUDENT’S CHOICE, from the provided list, or with prof. approval)
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
- Attendance and participation (A&P)*, including any quizzes, study sheets etc = 25%
- Midterm (1st unit exam, in-class essay and objective portion) = 25%
- 2nd unit exam (objective only) = 25 %
- One 5 pp written analytical and interpretative essay (non-UTeach students) OR one grade-level appropriate lesson plan and 10 min. in-class presentation (UTeach students): averaged to = 25% of grade
* Optional extra credit may be used to enhance A&P grade. Listen for more info on these in class.