GT/ES 361 - Science and Society: A European Perspective
We live in a world where science is an intricate part of human societies: Whether it is a new pandemic, a genome editing, advances in space exploration or in artificial intelligence, our lives are inevitably affected by scientific and technological advances. The relationship between science and the public has been the subject of intense scrutiny and mockery: Scientists are both loved by the public as saviors and heroes and hated as designers of military weapons, chemical pollutants and GMOs. Beyond the ramifications of this duality, the relationship between Science and Society is far more complex and fuller of nuances than any judgement can convey, and carries a strong geographical, historical and cultural influence, which can be studied through its different manifestations in different societies. This course aims to explore the intricacies of this relationship through relevant topics that are changing the very fabric of society. The course will look at how social, political and cultural forces in Europe and the rest of the world influence scientific practice and technological innovation, and how these two, in turn, are driving social changes at large. Students will examine how science operates and how it is disseminated to the wider public; identify the past and current roles of science in Europe and its role in innovation; explore the historical context and social environment surrounding scientific research; analyze contemporary ethical issues surrounding science and technology and; learn how to communicate scientific information to a wider public. It will focus on developing analytical skills and a problem-based approach to learning throughout the different topics reviewed. The theoretical element will be complemented by case studies, practical exercises and field trips. Exercises will provide an opportunity to formulate hypotheses derived from an understanding of how science works, while the field elements will provide a platform to apply and analyze the knowledge gained through the course and offer a local perspective of science dissemination while also promoting student-student interaction and active learning.