Courses in the Science Conversation

Fall Semester.  Sci Con 213 – The Rise of Modern Science: Origins and Revolutions

This course examines the development of modern science as revealed by primary texts and analysis of key episodes. Beginning with Aristotle, Copernicus, and Galileo, students gain a deeper understanding of the ideas, personalities, and events that shaped the emergence of the modern scientific view of the natural world. The course considers the historical, philosophical, and theological dimensions of major revolutions in science along with important contemporary developments.

Students in this course will

  • analyze the historical development of modern science, with attention to at least two major episodes or revolutions, beginning with the Copernican revolution and its connection to ancient ideas held by Aristotle and others.
  • discuss the philosophical dimensions of science, with attention to methods and epistemology, interpretation and meaning, as well as social and/or institutional factors.
  • examine the historical relationships between science and religion and among scientists, theologians, and church authorities.
  • study a significant development in science that dates from the twentieth century or later, in light of the historical, philosophical, and theological background established earlier in the course.

 

Interim.  Sci Con 215 – The Well-Ordered Universe: Patterns and Models in Science

This course engages students in scientific inquiry while investigating its broader significance. Students perform experiments from a variety of disciplines to encounter landmark ideas and to investigate the range of quantitative approaches used to proceed from raw data to conclusions. The human ability to recognize patterns and develop models is examined to understand scientific methods and to question the power, limits, and current status of the natural and behavioral sciences.

This course will

  • contain a significant laboratory component.
  • feature experiments chosen to illustrate landmark ideas from across the sciences.

Students in this course will

  • compare and contrast the quantitative methods necessary to carry out a range of different scientific investigations.
  • question the broader significance of scientific inquiry by critically examining the notion of a scientific method, by investigating the power, limits, and current status of the natural and behavioral sciences, and by taking into account social factors that may affect the development of science, such as gender and politics.

 

Spring Semester.  Sci Con 217 – The Cultural Context: Science and Society

This course examines the mutual influences of science and society while exploring the historical, political, economic, and religious aspects of these influences.  It concerns the institutional settings that shape the practices of science and the vocation of scientists.  It analyzes theological perspectives as they appropriate, resist, and advance science.

Students in this course will

  • analyze how science shapes and is shaped by its social contexts.
  • discuss the methods that social sciences use to examine phenomena, including science itself.
  • examine how science and theology affect each other as they shape reflection upon the origin, nature, and destiny of human life and the cosmos.
  • critically examine one or more contemporary debates that feature the interactions of science and society.