Science & Society: A European Perspective

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Course Information
Discipline(s): 
Global Studies
Environmental Studies
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
English
Contact Hours: 
45
Prerequisites: 

None

Description: 

We live in a world where our lives are closely affected by scientific and technological advances: whether it is a new epidemic, a new generation of antibiotics, advances in space exploration or the development of weapons of mass destruction, science is an intricate part of human civilization. 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. While the duality is not far from the truth, the relationship between science and society is far more complex and full of nuances than any judgment can convey.

This course aims to explore the intricacies of this relationship and to help students understand the context of science and the needs and responses of society by looking at how social, political and cultural forces in Europe shape scientific practice and technological innovation. Students will examine how science operates, identify the past and current roles of science in European societies and its role in innovation, explore the social forces behind scientific research, analyze contemporary issues involving science and technology and communicate their scientific understanding to others.

The course will compare and contrast these topics between Europe and America, and highlight how the different approaches have influenced these societies in different ways. 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 course-related excursions. Exercises will provide an opportunity to formulate hypotheses derived from an understanding of how science works, while the excursion 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.