Benjamin Disraeli described the question placed before society by Charles Darwin's work as follows: "Is man an ape or an angel?" This course examines the development of evolutionary thinking during the nineteenth century and the resulting debates over the "Descent of Man." It explores the relationship between Darwin's theory of evolution and the social, political and religious history of Britain and the British Empire in the nineteenth century. The course serves as an introduction to analyzing the interactions between science and society, with particular attention to how Darwin's theory intersected with debates over God, Science, Empire, Ethics, Race, Gender, Economics, and Politics.
This course is a 0.25-unit activity credit where students produce content for and participate in the student-run science magazine Elements. Students become familiar with approaches to popular science writing and communication. They produce novel essays and other forms of content that both engage with current events and synthesize ideas from scholarship on science and technology. Weekly meetings are required to select topics; to discuss approaches to popular science communication and editorial best practices; to promote the development of writing skills and other types of artistic content; and to manage and produce the magazine Elements.
Students in this course analyze the history of the physical and biological sciences since 1800, paying special attention to the reciprocal relationship between scientific knowledge and social context. Beginning with the social and intellectual upheaval of the French and Haitian Revolutions, this course highlights how an historical approach can inform our understanding of the triumphs and tragedies of scientific and technological development. Subjects of the course may include creationism, natural theology, evolution, the origin and demise of the electromagnetic worldview, atomic theory, big science, and genetics.
This course focuses on the history of science, technology, and society from Antiquity to 1700 C.E. It emphasizes both the theoretical understanding of nature and the practical mastery of the technologies of settled existence. Topics include: astronomy in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece; ancient Greek and early Chinese medicine; Islamic science in the Middle Ages; Renaissance anatomy, physiology, and natural history; and the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century. Issues addressed include: the role of cultural institutions in the production and diffusion of scientific ideas; the transmission of science across linguistic and cultural boundaries; and the interaction of science with art, religion, philosophy and political life. There are no prerequisites, but the course assumes a working knowledge of biology, chemistry, and geometry at the high school level.
This course is an activity credit where students write for and participate in STHS in the News, a student-run STHS blog. Students become familiar with the approach and style of academic blog writing, producing essays with novel content that both engage with current events related to science and technology and synthesize ideas from STHS scholarship. Weekly meetings are required to select topics, discuss STHS, promote the development of writing skills, and manage STHS in the News.
This is a 'Special Topics' course designed by students with the support of faculty to promote project-based learning for topics that do not fit within the rubric of an independent study or an existing full-unit course. The course broadly addresses themes related to STEM and social justice in a range of ways. Examples include designing a syllabus and seminar series on diversity in STEM or composing supplementary material for science courses on issues that relate to society and justice.
Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response. Technology has powerfully shaped and altered human experience. In this course, students examine what is technology, how is our relationship with technology changing, how does technology shape our modern culture and, in turn, how does our culture shape our technology. Topics covered may include: the industrial revolution, the airplane, Julia Child's kitchen, the Chernobyl disaster, and the development of the internet.
In this course students develop an understanding of the history of cancer medicine, the biology of cancer, and analyze public perceptions of both. Students build a solid foundation in the science, history, and social context of cancer to allow thoughtful exploration and critique of cancer history and to identify future areas of concern and hope.
This course explores the relationship between ideas about gender, science and society. Taking a comparative approach, students critically examine the history of ideas about the biological and social factors that influence gender roles and sexual preferences as well as sexual orientation and gender identity. Students consider ideas about how variation in sex and gender may have evolved through natural and sexual selection, and how human perceptions of gender feedback influence the scientific study of animals. Policy and ethical implications of scientific research on gender are also considered.
This class examines the history of natural history museums. Drawing on the resources and history of Puget Sound's natural history museum, the course is guided by the following questions: How have natural history museums influenced the history of biology? What alternative ways of knowing have historically been excluded from museums as sites of knowledge production? How have debates about human origins and diversity played out in museum settings and to what end? How and why are museums changing as both science and society change, from serving as sites for environmental education to tracking human impacts on the environment? Key topics include the role of museums in racializing human variation, the close relationship between imperialism and natural history, the important role natural history museums played in inspiring Darwin and Wallace's theories of evolution, and recent efforts by museums around the globe to contribute to biodiversity conservation while wrestling with the problematic legacies of their pasts.
This course examines the historical relationship between the theory of evolution and society in the twentieth century, with an emphasis on Britain, Germany, and the United States since 1870. Students examine a range of efforts to apply evolution theory to human society (including social Darwinism, eugenics, scientific racism, and the biology of war and peace), and place these efforts in historical context. In doing so, students study the complex relationship between science and society, and the place of science in the intellectual, social, and cultural history of the twentieth century.
The study of evolution and ethics ' at the intersections between biology, the human sciences and philosophy ' has received a lot of attention in recent years. News stories abound that give, in sound byte form, the (often controversial) ethical implications of conclusions regarding evolutionary theory. Drawing upon historical and philosophical approaches, this course provides students with an interdisciplinary framework from which to understand and study such debates. The course examines the historical context of previous discussions regarding the implications of the theory of evolution for ethical theories, and examines modern debates regarding the normative implications that may or may not result from different interpretations of the conclusions of evolutionary biology.
What does it mean to live a scientific life? Historically, people have studied nature for many different reasons--to better understand humanity's place in the universe, to assist in the production of food and medicine, to satisfy curiosity, etc.--and this knowledge and understanding of the natural world has evolved over time. Science reflects not only nature's inner workings, but also social and cultural values and is shaped powerfully by what people want to see and know. This course examines how humanity found order and regularity in twentieth-century scientific studies and how and why people pursued that knowledge. Using a biographical approach, students develop a deeper appreciation for not only science, but also "the ambitions, passions, disappointments, and moral choices that characterize a scientist's life."
This course examines the history of both scientific ecology and recent movements to interrogate, question, and revise the West's understanding of nature, including Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). In doing so the course places both defenses and critiques of Western science in historical context, with particular emphasis on potential implications for environmental policy. Students examine how the rise of conservation and environmentalism, responses to imperialism and colonialism, and debates over the role of activism and advocacy in science have influenced ecologists' work, identity, and organizations. In doing so students study the interaction between science and society, while considering the important insights a historical understanding of science can bring to understanding modern concerns and controversies.
This course examines the connections between 20th century science (with particular emphasis on physics) and the effects of science on public policy, international relations, and the strategy and tactics of modern warfare. During the first half of the 20th century, physicists' concepts of the universe changed as new fields of thought emerged: relativity, quantum theory, and eventually nuclear physics. At the same time, the interactions between scientists and governments evolved significantly, as the scope of war expanded and, in response, new technologies were integrated into warfighting. The course focuses on the role that scientists played in the two world wars, culminating in the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bombs. It also examines the consequences of scientific and technological advancements for the conduct of 20th century warfare, including the impact of trains and machine guns on the battlefields of the First World War and of tanks and airpower in World War II. After considering the development of the atomic bomb and the results of its use against Japan, the course moves to explore the role of nuclear weapons during the Cold War and in the 21st century, as well as the emergence of new science-based military technologies, such as cyberwar.
"Better things for better living...through chemistry" was a popular slogan used by DuPont in the mid-to-late twentieth century to market laboratory-developed products. Increasingly, concerns have been raised about the merits and consequences of chemicals in our food, goods, and environment. This class analyzes how we know what we know about chemistry, and how studies of the very small shape fundamental questions about the world, e.g. what is natural, what is artificial, does the difference matter, and if so in what contexts? By investigating a series of historical episodes that highlight some of the key intellectual, social, and political challenges of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this course examines how we learn about, modify, and relate to our environment chemically. From the development of the periodic table to the study of pollution, this course encourages students to gain an appreciation for the science of chemistry while engaging in cross-disciplinary dialogue about ways in which chemistry affects our daily lives.
In the early Twentieth Century, new experimental evidence encouraged physicists to abandon a consistent and nearly complete description of nature. They replaced common sense notions about the physical world with strange realities based on the new theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. As the physicists' new explanations of nature grew increasingly counter-intuitive, it became harder for non-physicists to understand precisely what physicists where doing. Without using higher mathematics, this course explores quantum mechanics and relativity as they describe the nature of matter and energy and the structure of space and time. It also addresses how physicists struggled to understand the philosophical implications of the new physical theories, how they worked to express their strange descriptions of nature to both public and professional audiences, and how they maintained public support for their increasingly expensive explorations of nature.
This class provides an intensive introduction to the scientific study of memory, and then examines the application of this science to four important social contexts. These include the social implications of age-related changes in memory, the role of memory in between-individual and between-group relations, the role of memory in the courtroom, and the role of memory in advertising and marketing.
Why do people commit crimes and what role does forensic science play in determining who is culpable? Using a historical approach, this course examines the development of forensic science and criminology. It focuses on the history of forensic medicine and psychology, fingerprinting, toxicology, blood typing, DNA evidence as well as the role of expert witnesses in homicide investigations. It also includes a discussion of the legal issues surrounding what constitutes admissible evidence and how that has changed over time.
A survey of the history, science, and technology of Mars exploration. Topics include the discovery of Mars by ancient civilizations, the first telescopic observations of Mars, the economics and politics of the U.S. and Russian Mars exploration programs, spacecraft design and the technologies needed for planetary exploration, and the future of Mars exploration including a possible manned mission to Mars. The scientific component of this course focuses on the planetary evolution of Mars and the question of whether life might have arisen on Mars. The class also takes a brief look at Mars in popular culture including literature, radio, and film.
This course surveys the history of medicine in the United States, guided by the following questions: How and why did a particular way of understanding the body, health, and medicine become established as "scientific medicine" in the U.S.? What role have alternative understandings of health and disease played in challenging the status and assumptions of biomedical approaches? How has "progress in medicine" been defined, by whom, and for whom? What political, social, and cultural histories are needed to understand both historical and present-day health inequities in healthcare? How do we develop a narrative of the past that acknowledges both the historical triumphs and tragedies of the U.S. healthcare and medical system and why should we try? How can studying this history improve medical practice, institutions, and education, including provider-patient relationships?
This course examines the historical relationship between science and religion in the United States with particular attention to debates over human origins and climate change. The course is guided by the following questions: How have beliefs regarding God and Nature diverged in the U.S. and why? What roles have changing answers to the questions (addressed by both scientists and theologians) about the origin of human beings and human nature played in this history? Who, historically, got to determine the terms of debate, why, and to what end? What underlying divergences in values, beliefs, and assumptions influence different stances on these issues, and what is the history of those divergences? What potential insights (and challenges) does studying this history offer to present-day, interdisciplinary efforts to deal with debates that concern science?
There is a long tradition of seeing science as apolitical, but historically a complex relationship has existed between science and politics. Scientists work within political structures, and those systems in turn influence what kinds of science and technology are pursued within a given society. Science has also come with norms that make claims about what kind of political systems support the best kind of science. This course draws on historical, sociological, and philosophical studies of science and technology, primary source material from scientists, politicians and others, as well as literature, film, and cartoons. Students examine a broad set of issues such as: the types of science that get done within democratic and totalitarian systems (in communist, socialist, and capitalist societies); how and why science has been harnessed in fights over political authority; and how political decisions direct scientists' careers and the trajectory of scientific disciplines and technological development.
In this experiential-learning course, students work individually or collaboratively to better understand a real-world interdisciplinary problem. As the capstone experience for the STHS major, students will conduct detailed research to produce a final project appropriate to their academic and co-curricular interests, e.g., writing a substantive paper, creating a web exhibit, or designing a syllabus.
Research under the close supervision of a faculty member on a topic agreed upon. Application and proposal to be submitted to the department chair and faculty research advisor. Recommended for majors prior to the senior research semester.
This scheduled weekly interdisciplinary seminar provides the context to reflect on concrete experiences at an off-campus internship site and to link these experiences to academic study relating to the political, psychological, social, economic and intellectual forces that shape our views on work and its meaning. The aim is to integrate study in the liberal arts with issues and themes surrounding the pursuit of a creative, productive, and satisfying professional life. Students receive 1.0 unit of academic credit for the academic work that augments their concurrent internship fieldwork. This course is not applicable to the Upper-Division Graduation Requirement. Only 1.0 unit may be assigned to an individual internship and no more than 2.0 units of internship credit, or internship credit in combination with co-operative education credit, may be applied to an undergraduate degree.