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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Science Studies

Science Studies is inherently an interdisciplinary major. It not only explores the complex interactions among the sciences, technology and medicine, it also attempts to explain how they interact with different parts of society, such as government, industry, education, religion, and the economy. Science Studies draws upon a plethora of methodologies from various disciplines, including the sciences themselves, history, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology. With the tools provided by these subjects, the discipline of Science Studies illustrates how scientific, technological and medical knowledge is constructed on the one hand, and how culture and society are constructed on the other. In short, Science Studies investigates the link between the content of scientific, technological and medical knowledge and the context in which such knowledge is generated.

Science Studies is meant to branch out into all areas of the Willamette campus. Science students need to be cognizant of how their knowledge influences, and is framed by, society. Such awareness necessitates a sense of social responsibility. Students of sociology, philosophy, history, and anthropology must appreciate how their disciplines can help elucidate the scientific enterprise. Precisely because science, technology, and medicine impact our lives in unprecedented ways, all members of the academy are obliged to become familiar with these fields.

Science Studies is an appropriate major for pre-med students, as medical schools are interested in well-rounded students who can discuss intelligently the social aspects of medicine. Pre-law students, particularly those interested in science policy and intellectual property, can gain a valuable insight by studying the relationship between science and the law. Also, given the importance of biotechnology and genetic engineering to the media, Science Studies would also appeal to those interested in a career in science journalism. Finally, this major is well suited for students of the sciences, history, sociology and cultural anthropology interested in pursuing graduate work in science studies (including history of science, medicine, or technology, philosophy of science, and sociology of science and technology).

Requirements for the Science Studies Major (11 Credits)

Four courses (including any prerequisites) of one science (4)

Chemistry

  • At least 2 courses at the 200 level

Biology

  • At least 2 courses at the 200 level

Physics

  • At least 2 courses at the 300 level

Computer Science

Any calculus prerequisites may NOT be counted.

  • CS 231 (QA*) Introduction to Programming (1) and
  • CS 241 (QA) Introduction to Computer Science: Data Structures (1) and
  • Two courses at the 300 or 400 level

Exercise Science

Any four of the following:

Psychology

  • PSYC 130 (NW) Evolutionary Psychology (1)

And any two of the following:

Two of the following three courses (2)

  • SST 120 (TH) Introduction to the History of Science
  • HIST 122 Introduction to the History of Technology
  • HIST 240 (TH) Introduction to the History of Western Medicine

Four credits from the following (at least three at 300/400 level) (4)

Senior seminar

  • SST 499 (W) Senior Seminar in Science Studies (1)

Requirements for the Science Studies Minor (6 Credits)

Two credits in a science (2)

Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Exercise Science or Psychology (2)

Two of the following three courses (2)

  • HIST 120 (TH) Introduction to the History of Science
  • HIST 122 Introduction to the History of Technology
  • HIST 240 (TH) Introduction to the History of Western Medicine

Two credits from the following (2)

Science Studies Advisory Committee

  • William E. Duvall, Professor of History
  • Louis F. Goble, Professor of Philosophy
  • Myles W. Jackson, Associate Professor of History of Science, Chair
  • Karl Fritz Ruehr, Associate Professor of Computer Science
  • Todd P. Silverstein, Professor of Chemistry
  • Barbara Stebbins-Boaz, Associate Professor of Biology
  • D. Angus Vail, Associate Professor of Sociology
  • Richard W. Watkins, Associate Professor of Physics
  • Peter Wogan, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Course Listings

SST 120 (TH) An Introduction to the History of Science (1)

[Crosslisted with HIST 120]

This course offers a general survey of scientific thought from the philosophies of ancient Greece to modern physics and molecular biology.

Mode of Inquiry: Thinking Historically

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Jackson

SST 389 (TH) Physics and Society (1)

[Crosslisted with HIST 389]

This course treats the history of physics from 1700 to the present. We shall investigate how sociocultural factors influence physics and, conversely, how physics has influenced culture and society.

Mode of Inquiry: Thinking Historically

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Jackson

SST 392 (TH) Biology and Society (1)

[Crosslisted with HIST 392]

This course explores the relationship between the biological sciences and society from Enlightenment France until the present. Topics include: the role of gender in 18th century classifications of plants, Darwin's theory of evolution and its political and religious implications, eugenics and the Human Genome Project.

Mode of Inquiry: Thinking Historically

Prerequisite: One semester of Biology or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Jackson

SST 499 (W) Senior Seminar in Science Studies

This course is intended for science-studies major with senior standing and is comprised of direct reading, research and writing of a senior thesis. The topic of study will be selected by the student after consultation with the director of the science-studies program and the student's advisor. This course is meant as the culmination of a science-studied major; hense, the student is to choose a topic from her/his areas of concentration within the major. The work should represent expertise in methodologies relevant to science studies as applied to a specific scientific, historical, philosophical or sociological area.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Jackson