Monday, October 15, 2012

Spring 2013 History and Philosophy of Science Courses of Interest to Students Concerned with Contemporary Social Issues

History and Philosophy of Science is currently offering two undergraduate course that should be of considerable interest to undergraduates who are concerned with contemporary social issues.  They are Philosophy of Medicine -X320, and Science and Society, H240.  I’m pasting in the course descriptions and relevant logistics below.



Bill Newman



Philosophy of Medicine

History and Philosophy of Science  X320



Professor Elisabeth Lloyd


Section 27836

Tuesday, Thursday

9:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m.

Location:  SY 103




Course Description


We will study both the history of public health and medicine, starting with the ancient Greeks, and moving up to contemporary problems in these fields.  When and how did modern medical understandings of the body emerge?  How did people learn how the body was put together, such as the circulatory system, the beating of the heart, or the functioning of the kidneys?  When was the germ theory of disease developed? What is the biggest cause of the recent, 20th Century reduction in infant mortality in the US and England?  Our contemporary topics will include the issues of genetic diseases and predispositions.  What does it mean to say that a person “has a gene for” heart disease or breast cancer?  Can they be discriminated against at work or in health care on this basis?  What are the ethics of smoking, alcohol use, and eating right?  We will read about the AIDS/HIV case as a modern crisis in public health.  What are new, emerging challenges to medicine and public health?  What are the ethics of the distribution of expensive treatments or rare drugs?


Texts include:

Rosen, George A History of Public Health (1993) Johns Hopkins University Press.

Nuland, Sherwin Doctors: The Biography of Medicine (1988) Vintage Books.

Oncourse Readings



Science and Society: Science & Public Engagement


Professor Jutta Schickore


Section 30338

Monday, Wednesday

2:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m.

Location:  HU111





Modern science is a highly specialized activity, pursued by trained experts at research labs or universities. But of course, science is not confined to the laboratory or academy. The outcome of scientific research informs and shapes our society and culture at all levels. We encounter science in the media, in museums, or in the court room. Politicians, lawyers, and other professionals draw on, assess, and sometimes seek to restrict scientific activity. This course explores how science engages with the public, how the public engages with science, and how the relation between science and the public has changed over time. Beginning in the 18th century, we will focus on three related topics.


The forms of engagement: How are complex scientific issues made palatable to wider audiences? We will survey different forms of science communication, such as popular lectures and magazines, museum displays, novels, and films. We will discuss how audiences’ responses shape the course of science, and whether basic scientific literacy is sufficient to understand and evaluate scientific activity.


The sites of engagement: Where do the exchanges between scientists and public audiences occur? We will consider sites and spaces such as museums and zoos, cabinets of curiosity, lecture halls, court rooms, and mass media. How do these sites facilitate – or perhaps impede – the flow of information?


The purposes and effects of engagement: What are the goals of science communication? Why do scientists, science educators, and science journalists care about what non-scientists think about science? Have these goals changed since the late 18th century? Why might lay audiences engage with science; what are their interests and expectations?