HIST270 History of Science (3 semester hours)

Science is unquestionably central in shaping our modern world. Though often directed by the “big science” efforts of universities, global corporations, and nations, it is the individual scientist that populates these scientific communities. It is at this individual level, both professionally and personally, that science touches us most directly. Students earn advanced degrees in a wide range of specialties like physics, biology, and chemistry. Science is also a central component in related fields of medicine, geology, genetics, ecology, cosmology, and technology. On the personal level we encounter science everyday when we eat genetically enhanced food, take complicated medicines to combat illness, debate the origins of life, strive to understand new information about ourselves in the universe, use advanced technologies, and in many more ways. These scientific developments do not emerge instantaneously from a vacuum. To fully understand science, one must have an appreciation of its history and how it has developed over time. The latest scientific advance is merely a snapshot of the present, and only looking at this image obscures our appreciation of the dynamic interaction between science and culture, and the ways that national, institutional, and individual goals have determined its trajectory. This broader perspective, gained only by the study of the history of science, serves as our central mission in this class.