[geogu-l] Science & Society--new Spr 09 course
rroth at u.washington.edu
Wed Feb 18 13:46:27 PST 2009
PHYS 216 / SIS 216 Science and Society Spring 2009
Instructor: Vladi Chaloupka, Professor of Physics
Adjunct Professor, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
Adjunct Professor, School of Music
An informed, educated citizen ought to know enough about science to be
able to appreciate the breathtaking potential benefits as well as the
possible dangers which science presents. In this course, we explore the
current status and developments in Physics, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology
and Computer Science, and we discuss the implications for society at the
local, national and international (global) level. Nuclear physics and
molecular biology serve as concrete examples of fields with significant
impact on society. We will go to considerable detail in our treatment of
these two fields - we will use Einstein's E=mc2 to shed new light on the
question "Why is there Something rather than Nothing?" and you will learn
how to find a gene hidden in the sequence CCATTCATCTAATCGGAGAACATTTACGGAACG.
In the discussion part of the course, we will have formal debates on the
Basic Problem in Science, Technology and Society, and on Intelligent Design
vs. Evolution. There will be both exuberance and humility in our treatment
of the issues, and both feelings will often be illustrated using the
playground of Music.
This course is offered jointly by the Physics Department and by the
Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, and either of the two
identical options (PHYS216 or SIS216) can be taken to satisfy either the NW
or the I&S requirement. The enrollment is not limited to the students of the
two sponsoring Departments - the goal is to achieve a truly
transdisciplinary mix of science- and non-science students with diverse
backgrounds. There are no pre-requisites on previous math or science
knowledge. This is the fourth time the course is offered, and in the past,
the English majors and political science majors were not lost, and the
physics and biology majors were not bored - students were learning not just
from the Instructor but also from each other.
There will be two 2-hour lectures weekly, and a 1-hour section on
Fridays. The grade will be based on several short response papers, term
project/paper on a topic of student's choice, and a final exam.
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