Reason and Debate in Scientific Controversies

What is science? What makes a scientist? How do scientists communicate—with each other and non-scientists--and why? This course is designed to deepen your interest in science by examining controversies, both within science and between the scientific community and the larger society. Controversies we will consider include: were some dinosaurs warm-blooded? Should scientists believe in atoms? What is the relationship between vaccinations and autism? Is it possible to re-create human intelligence? How vulnerable is the electric grid to space-weather? We will all bring to bear our critical thinking skills and scientific reasoning to help us think through the evidence invoked in these questions, and in the process help you develop successful learning strategies for college-level science courses. Written and oral assignments will expose you to various kinds of scientific literature, develop your capacity to communicate scientific information clearly for different audiences, and teach you to formulate arguments based on various kinds of evidence.