SCIENCE IN SOCIETY
Professors: William Johnston, History; Jill G. Morawski, Psychology; Joseph T. Rouse Jr., Philosophy, Chair
Associate Professor: Jennifer Tucker, History
Departmental Advising Experts 2012-2013: Paul Erickson, Gillian Goslinga
The sciences and scientifically sophisticated medicine and technology are among the most important and far-reaching human achievements. Scientific work has affected people's intellectual standards, cultural meanings, political possibilities, economic capacities, and physical surroundings. Scientific research has also acquired significance, direction, authority, and application within various cultural contexts. To understand the sciences as human achievements is, in significant part, to understand the world in which we live.
The Science in Society Program is an interdisciplinary major that encourages the study of the sciences and medicine as institutions, practices, intellectual achievements, and constituents of culture. Students in the program should gain a better understanding of the richness and complexity of scientific practice and of the cultural and political significance of science, technology, and medicine. The major is well suited for students interested in a variety of professional and academic pursuits after graduation, since it encourages students to integrate technical scientific knowledge with a grasp of the historical and cultural setting within which it is understood and used.
Students may enroll in the program either as a stand-alone major or as a joint major with one of the science departments (Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Neuroscience and Behavior, Physics, or Psychology). All students must take one course each in history of science, philosophy of science, and sociocultural studies of science and three additional courses in the program (including at least one 300-level seminar). Students for whom the program is a stand-alone major must also take a minimum of four major-track courses in one of the science departments and a structured three-course area of concentration in either anthropology, FGSS, history, philosophy, religion, or sociology. Students who undertake the joint major with a science must complete all requirements for a science major in place of the area of concentration. Further information about program requirements, policies, and its learning goals can be found on the program’s website.
To be eligible for departmental honors, a student must meet two criteria. First, all work done in the core courses of the Science in Society Program including electives must be considered, on average, to be very good (equivalent to a B+ or better). Second, a senior thesis deemed excellent by its readers is necessary for honors, and a genuinely distinguished thesis is needed for high honors.