LAS 2120 – THE SCIENTIFIC PROCESS
Philosophy of Science
An examination of the methods and historical development of the sciences generally, as well as a treatment of philosophical issues that arise in particular sciences. What justifies the view that science is the most objective source of human knowledge? What makes a scientific theory true? To what extent does scientific knowledge depend on history, political perspective, or gender and what influence do values have on science?
Science in the News
Throughout this course students will choose current science topics that are relevant to their lives. Students will then be taught to critically evaluate their chosen topics in a manner consistent with scientific ways of thinking. Students will work in small groups to research, evaluate and report on science-related news of the day. Students will participate in debates, discussions, and presentations of each topic.
Science of Plagues
This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to examine the impact of infectious diseases on human populations. Historical plagues and emerging diseases including the identification of disease agents and treatments of disease will be discussed. Topics will also include the sociological, psychological, historical, and economic implications of infectious diseases. Students will explore the biological concepts of disease, methods of scientific investigation, and how these diseases impact society.
Science Through the Trees
Through a combination of in-class investigations and field study, students will learn how to apply the scientific process to an understanding of New England forests. We will investigate the descriptive approach through readings of the early American naturalists examining the questions and data acquired on the natural history of New England forests,. Students will explore the current scientific literature that supports contemporary understanding of the scientific processes at work in New England forests, we will critically review the evidence for natural and human processes that affect disturbance, succession, species composition, climatic change, and sustainability. The course will emphasize application of both the natural history and scientific processes as students learn how to assess evidence and deduce the past human and natural histories of local forests. Through an assessment of the validity of information and evidence, students will see the forest through the trees.
Way of Science
Science is more than a collection of facts; it is a way of building models of the universe based on reliable evidence. How scientists weigh evidence will determine the extent of conflict with politics, religion, and the public in general. This course considers many topics (psychic power, evolution/ creation, the birth and death of the universe, and others) in light of the scientific approach to reliable knowledge, and examines the resulting conflicts.