Courses

The 20th century gene: From eugenics to epigenetics

Semester: Spring
Offered: 2014, 2015
Syllabus 2015
From the eugenics movement at the beginning of the century to the global initiative to sequence the human genome at its close, the gene has figured prominently into twentieth century history. How did genetics come to occupy a prominent place in both scientific and popular thinking? What are the consequences of the attention devoted to genes?

Biology and Society

Semester: Spring
Offered: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Syllabus 2017
From medical advancements to environmental crises and global food shortages, biology and the life sciences are implicated in some of the most pressing social issues of our time. This course explores events in the history of biology from the mid-twentieth century to today, and examines how developments in this scientific field have shaped and are shaped by society.

Where Science Meets Society

Semester: Spring
Offered: 2014 (Fall), 2016 (Spring)
Syllabus 2014
What is science? What, if anything, is special about the way that scientists generate knowledge? In university courses, we absorb many implicit rules about what makes for good scientific work—lab reports should be written in the third person, papers must have citations (but not to Wikipedia!), double-blind studies are better than anecdotal evidence—but rarely do we have the opportunity to reflect on why it is that we are taught to know in this way. This course identifies and challenges common (but often unstated) assumptions about what science is and how it works, with the aim of revealing the deep connections between science and technology and our social, cultural, economic, and political lives.

Proseminar in Historiography and Methods

Semester: Fall
Offered: 2014, 2015
Syllabus 2015
This course provides an introduction to the scholarly field that is the history of science. It gives a necessarily brief and partial overview of some of the major themes and issues that occupy the field, and it offers an opportunity to investigate ways in which influential scholars in the field have gone about their work. We will critically examine a variety of dominant themes, issues, and approaches in the field with reference to epistemological, methodological, and general historiographical questions concerning science as a subject of historical inquiry.