Beyond the ‘Science Wars’: Infusing Insights from ‘Science Studies’ into the Science Curriculum
DAVID EASTZER, City College of the City University of New York
Note: This course will be offered on the Manhattan campus of SUNY-Stony Brook
Many scientists feel under attack by faculty in the Social Sciences and Humanities who study natural scientists as a community and the processes by which scientific knowledge is established, a conflict often referred to as “the Science Wars’. Conversely, documents by national science organizations advocating undergraduate curriculum reform, such as one produced by the National Research Council (1999), urge science faculty to create introductory science courses for all students which “consider the sciences’ relationship to the humanities, social sciences, and the political, economic and social concerns of society” by collaborating with our colleagues in the liberal arts. In this three-day course, we will examine how a working knowledge of research in this multidisciplinary field of ‘Science Studies’ can inform pedagogical and curricular innovation in natural science courses, and help alleviate the ‘science-phobia’ felt by many students.
After a brief historical overview of the conflict between the Natural Sciences and the Liberal Arts in education, we will spend the bulk of the course exploring the different disciplines in ‘Science Studies’: their topics of interest, methodological approaches, and case studies. Our examination of each discipline ( e.g., the philosophy, history, sociology, rhetoric and anthropology of science; science and literature, art, theology, the law; and cultural studies and women’s studies) will focus on how these perspectives can be used in the development of science curriculum and pedagogy without ‘dumbing-down’ scientific content. We will discuss classroom-tested exercises that allow students to explore issues such as: how science is actually practiced (‘science-in-the-making’); the types of interactions among scientists from different disciplinary and institutional settings; differences in thinking and linguistic styles across the sciences; the role of metaphors and the interpretation of scientific images of nature; cognitive and social factors in theory choice and theory change; the embeddedness of science in cultural and societal interests, concerns, and ways of thinking; interactions between scientific expertise and the public’s understanding of science; and the fair apportioning of the risks, rewards and responsibilities associated with techno-science.
Participants will begin developing assignments and modules that could be integrated into the courses they teach, and to establish interdisciplinary collaborations that will extend beyond the three-day course.
For college teachers of: introductory and/or elective science courses for all students, science specialists in schools of education, and liberal arts faculty interested in the sciences. High school teachers are welcome on a space available basis.
Prerequisites: An open mind and respect for scholarship in all disciplines.
Center for Excellence and Innovation in Education
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-4335
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