Science & Technology in Society

Sleep (Gen Ed 1038)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

How does sleep affect your health, your safety, and our society?

 

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Charles Czeisler and Frank A.J.L. Scheer

What is sleep? Why do we sleep? Why don't we sleep? How much sleep do you need? What are circadian rhythms? How do technology and culture impact sleep? This course will explore the role of sleep and circadian timing in maintaining health, improving performance and enhancing safety.... Read more about Sleep (Gen Ed 1038)

How to Build a Habitable Planet (Gen Ed 1018)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

The relationship between human beings and Earth is the central problem of our time; can an understanding of Earth’s history reveal a place for us in a process of planetary evolution that might influence our behavior?

 

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Charles H. Langmuir

Poster for Gen Ed 1018 - How to Build a Habitable Planet. Includes images of earth as well as a construction worker. Text describes course.

Is Earth one of many planets in an inhabited Universe, or is it the result of a low-probability accident? And what does the answer to that question tell us about humans’ relationship to our planet? The aim of this course is to place human beings in a universal and planetary context as we investigate the steps of planetary evolution and their significance to our current relationship to Earth.... Read more about How to Build a Habitable Planet (Gen Ed 1018)

Can We Know Our Past? (Gen Ed 1105)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

In a time when histories are being contested, monuments removed, and alternative facts compete with established orthodoxy, how do we evaluate competing narratives about what really happened in the past?

 

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Jason Ur and Matthew Liebmann

What happened in the past? How do you know? Even though today we take great pains to document every major event that occurs, more than 99% of human history is not written down.... Read more about Can We Know Our Past? (Gen Ed 1105)

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Cares? Reimagining Global Health (Gen Ed 1093)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

How can health care systems be restructured to provide high quality care even to the poorest and most vulnerable people on our planet?
 

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Arthur Kleinman, Anne Becker, and Salmaan Keshavjee

If you are sick or hurt, whether you live or die depends not only on biological factors, but social ones: who you are and where you are, what sort of healthcare system is available to help you survive, and what kind of care is available to help you recover, if society believes you deserve it. The global coronavirus pandemic illustrates with dramatic urgency the role social forces play in patterning health inequities and determining individual fates. The vulnerabilties of those most likely to get sick and die from COVID-19 stem from the ongoing effects of systemic racism on racialized subjects, the devaluation of eldercare and precarity of low-paid work under neoliberal forms of governance, and material effects of colonial-era power structures that render health care systems dangerously weak or inaccessible for many communities. Now, as ever, it is imperative to develop frameworks and methodologies to identify and to intervene effectively in harmful social configurations that cause illness and suffering.

... Read more about Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Cares? Reimagining Global Health (Gen Ed 1093)

Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology and Policy (Gen Ed 1094)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

How can we address the issue of climate change, reducing the damages by preparing for impacts already underway and fixing the problem by transforming our energy system?

 

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Daniel Schrag

This course will consider the challenge of climate change and what to do about it.   Students will be introduced to the basic science of climate change, including the radiation budget of the Earth, the carbon cycle, and the physics and chemistry of the oceans and atmosphere.... Read more about Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology and Policy (Gen Ed 1094)

Why Is There No Cure for Health? (Gen Ed 1079)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

Given all our technological advances, why are we still not able to prevent preventable diseases, provide affordable healthcare for millions of people, and deliver cures for curable diseases?

 

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David M. Cutler

Around the world, billions of dollars are spent on health care treatments, public health initiatives, and pharmaceutical research and development. So why are we still not able to prevent preventable diseases, provide affordable healthcare for millions of people, and deliver cures for curable diseases? And what are the best ways to address these issues? Because these questions are so large, we will focus our discussion around questions like: What steps should be taken to address epidemics? How should the United States reform its health care system? And how should prescription drugs be produced and sold?... Read more about Why Is There No Cure for Health? (Gen Ed 1079)

Pride & Prejudice & P-values: Scientific Critical Thinking (Gen Ed 1024)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

How can we (as individuals and as whole societies) better incorporate into our thinking and decision making the problem-solving techniques characteristic of science at its best?

 

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Edward J. Hall and Douglas Finkbeiner

We humans have developed rational and systematic methods for solving problems, ways carefully designed to chart a reliable path to the truth. Yet we as individuals, as groups, as whole societies fail to take full advantage of these methods.... Read more about Pride & Prejudice & P-values: Scientific Critical Thinking (Gen Ed 1024)

Numbers in Policy and Society (Gen Ed 1173)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

How can we critically assess the data, models, and numbers used in making policy and hold to account those with the power to produce them?

 

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Sheila Jasanoff and Sam Weiss Evans

The ability to critically assess numbers, data and models and hold to account those with the power to generate them is a vital capability for every 21st century citizen. This course will give you an increased understanding of why some important ethical and political perspectives fail to enter into the design of the scientific and technical systems that permeate our societies.... Read more about Numbers in Policy and Society (Gen Ed 1173)

Life as a Planetary Phenomenon (Gen Ed 1070)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

Is there alien life beyond Earth?

 

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Dimitar Sasselov

What is it about Earth that enables life to thrive? This question was reinvigorated with the 2016 ground-breaking discovery of a habitable planet around the nearest star, Proxima Centauri. A decade of exploration confirmed that such planets are common in our galaxy, and the commonality of habitable planets has raised anew some age-old questions: Where do we come from? What is it to be human? Where are we going? Are we alone in the universe?... Read more about Life as a Planetary Phenomenon (Gen Ed 1070)

Evolving Morality: From Primordial Soup to Superintelligent Machines (Gen Ed 1046)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

How can we understand the evolution of morality—from primordial soup to superintelligent machines—and how might the science of morality equip us to meet our most pressing moral challenges?

 

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Joshua D. Greene

In this course we’ll examine the evolution of morality on Earth, from its origins in the biology of unthinking organisms, through the psychology of intelligent primates, and into a future inhabited by machines that may be more intelligent and better organized than humans. First, we ask: What is morality?... Read more about Evolving Morality: From Primordial Soup to Superintelligent Machines (Gen Ed 1046)

Energy Resources and the Environment (Gen Ed 1085)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

How can we make sound, realistic choices about the ways we produce energy to support our growing global economies while fulfilling our responsibility as stewards of the environment?  

 

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John Shaw

This is a revolutionary time of change regarding how we produce and utilize energy around the world. How will we provide enough energy to support our growing global economy while protecting our environment? This class examines the full life cycle of each energy resource, including where it comes from geologically, how we acquire it, the way it is used in our economies, and the environmental impacts of these activities.... Read more about Energy Resources and the Environment (Gen Ed 1085)

Human Nature (Gen Ed 1056)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

What does it mean to be human, from a biological perspective – and how did we get that way?

 

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Erin Hecht and Martin Surbeck

This course asks: What makes us behaviorally and psychologically human? In what ways are humans similar to other species and in what ways are we different? What are the evolutionary origins of the behavioral and psychological features found across human societies including parental love, sibling rivalry, pair-bonding, incest aversion, social status, war, norms, altruism, religion, language, and cooking?... Read more about Human Nature (Gen Ed 1056)

Understanding Darwinism (Gen Ed 1004)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

How has our understanding of evolution evolved since Darwin?

 

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Andrew Berry and Janet Browne

How does scientific knowledge develop, how is it shaped by history, and what effect does it have on society? An interdisciplinary exploration of Darwin's ideas and their impact on science and society, this course links the history of Darwin's ideas with the key features of modern evolutionary biology. We review the development of the main elements of the theory of evolution, highlighting the areas in which Darwin's ideas have proved remarkably robust and areas in which subsequent developments have significantly modified the theory.... Read more about Understanding Darwinism (Gen Ed 1004)

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