Science & Technology in Society

Ancestry: Where do we come from and why do we care? (Gen Ed 1014)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

How does ancestry affect our opportunities, our rights, and our sense of who we are?

 

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Maya Jasanoff

Everyone comes from somewhere. We carry our ancestries in our DNA, genealogy, family stories, and more. What do these forms of evidence tell us about who we are, as a species, as a social group, or as an individual? This course looks at ancestry from a range of perspectives: biology, anthropology, genealogy, history, law, and memory—from the origins of human populations to the origins of you.... Read more about Ancestry: Where do we come from and why do we care? (Gen Ed 1014)

Confronting COVID-19: Science, History, Policy (Gen Ed 1170)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020


How do pandemics end?

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Allan M. Brandt and Ingrid Katz

We are living in a world radically reshaped by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This course will investigate the wide range of questions raised by the pandemic, its impact and significance. We will also examine how diseases raise fundamental issues for science, policy, and society.... Read more about Confronting COVID-19: Science, History, Policy (Gen Ed 1170)

Climate Crossroads (Gen Ed 1167)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020


Irreversible climate change poses an unprecedented challenge to the stability of all societies:  what are the scientifically viable pathways to a future that is sustainable and just?

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James G. Anderson and James Engell

What one thing is changing everything in your lifetime—and for generations to come? It’s changing what you eat; it’s changing buildings you live in; and it’s changing politics, the arts, and finance. The change is accelerating. This course reveals fundamental alterations that climate disruption is bringing to multiple human activities and natural phenomena.... Read more about Climate Crossroads (Gen Ed 1167)

What is Life? From Quarks to Consciousness (Gen Ed 1029)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020


Are we — wonderful, human us — really nothing more than complex constellations of interacting atoms?

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Logan S. McCarty and Andrew Berry

This course views life through multiple lenses. Quantum physics involves uncertainty and randomness, and yet paradoxically it explains the stability of molecules, such as DNA, that encode information and are critical to life. Thermodynamics is about the universe's ever increasing disorder, and yet living systems remain ordered and intact.... Read more about What is Life? From Quarks to Consciousness (Gen Ed 1029)

Finding Our Way (Gen Ed 1031)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020


How did/do humans find their way across the planet, and how can we replicate their wayfinding?
 

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John Huth

How do you navigate our increasingly automated culture? In this course, we will use the theme of primitive navigation to open our eyes to the physical world in a direct and palpable manner. Basic principles include human cognition of physical and mental maps, dead reckoning, direction finding from nature. The course includes the basics of astronomy, including planetary orbits, meteorology, thermodynamics, bird behavior, electromagnetic radiation, optics, waves, tides, ocean currents, and fluid dynamics.... Read more about Finding Our Way (Gen Ed 1031)

Why You Hear What You Hear: The Science of Music and Sound (Gen Ed 1106)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2020

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Eric Heller

Sound and music are integral parts of all human cultures, and play critical roles in communications and social interactions. In this course, we study the production, transmission, and perception of sound, with the aim of expanding communication, musical, and artistic horizons. The course includes many class demos and hands on tools for students to explore. Psychoacoustics (the study of how we perceive and interpret sound) is a central theme of the course, providing a lens through which we can better understand the generation, propagation, and analysis of sound.... Read more about Why You Hear What You Hear: The Science of Music and Sound (Gen Ed 1106)

The Science of Happiness (Gen Ed 1154)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2019

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Jason P. Mitchell

Recent research in the cognitive sciences—especially psychology, economics, and neuroscience—has begun to examine the factors that promote personal well-being and happiness. One surprising, but consistent, observation has been that many of the things that are widely believed to be crucial for our happiness—wealth, material possessions, “not missing out”, even good grades—not only fail to make many people happy but can actively undermine the sense of well-being.... Read more about The Science of Happiness (Gen Ed 1154)

Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech, and the Future of Human Nature (Gen Ed 1058)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2019

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Michael Sandel and Doug Melton

The course explores the moral, social, and political implications of new technologies. Will biotechnology and AI enable us to hack humanity? Should we edit the genes of our children, extend the human lifespan, and genetically enhance our athletic ability and IQ? Can algorithms be fair? Will robots make work obsolete? Can smart machines outthink us? In an age of big data and social media, is privacy over? Is democracy?... Read more about Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech, and the Future of Human Nature (Gen Ed 1058)

Infectious Diseases and Social Injustice (Gen Ed 1129)

Semester: 

N/A

Should we have been better prepared to mitigate the inequities that we are witnessing with COVID-19?

 

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Donald Goldmann and Ken McIntosh

Advances in prevention and treatment of infectious disease have left large segments of the global population behind. This course studies the societal impacts of nine infectious diseases: HIV/AIDS, malaria, plague, polio, cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, syphilis, and tuberculosis.... Read more about Infectious Diseases and Social Injustice (Gen Ed 1129)

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