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First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Science and Society

Semester and Year FA 2014
Course Number FIRST-UG38
Section 001
Instructor Gene Cittadino
Days Mon,Wed
Time 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Units 4.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


Although there is a persistent myth that science is somehow separate from the rest of culture, an activity pursued by a specialized tribe of socially inept nerds, science has always been intricately interrelated with the societies in which it is done. This course explores the relationship between science and society by examining selected historical and contemporary controversies, competitions, debates, and trials involving scientific knowledge and its applications. Topics will include controversies involving science and religion, investigations into “pseudosciences,” science-related legal trials, campaigns to sway public opinion about scientific issues, such as nuclear energy, evolution or global warming, debates over the relationship between science and the state, and characterizations of science and scientists in literature, films, and popular media. Our sources will be a variety of writings by scientists, historians, philosophers, social theorists, and journalists, as well as works of fiction and documentary films. Readings may include selections by Paul Feyerabend, Carl Sagan, Rachel Carson, Evelyn Keller, Richard Dawkins, Dava Sobel, James Watson, Naomi Oreskes, Stephen Gould, and Chris Mooney, among others.

Course Type

First-Year Program: Interdisciplinary Seminars (FIRST-UG)

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