NSC-491 (Section 2) 3 cr. Fall 2000

Science Changing Society:
Understanding Scientific Discovery and Effects

Citizenship Rubric built by the students


The purposes of this class are to enhance student interest in and understanding about the direction, impacts, and disciplinary interconnections of science and scientific research and to explore how the public receives information and reaches understanding about science issues.  Significant, current issues involving discoveries in science will be used as the basis for investigation of this general theme. 

This course and its visiting experts are an inspiration of both MSU President McPherson in his endowment for the 'Public Understanding of Science' and of an ongoing series of essays in the journal Science entitled 'Pathways of Discovery.' Each month this year Science has knowledgeable, engaging, and well-known scientist-essayists tell a story about how a particular contemporary "breakthrough" area that emerged to its present exciting level. 

Experts (both five outside speakers and MSU cooperating faculty) from science and science journalism will choose topics from their fields and work with the instructors to assign appropriate readings. They will visit and participate in the class and discuss the topic as well as answer questions from students concerning the process and products of scientific discovery. 

This course is designed to engage students in examining emerging (and sometimes controversial) issues in the sciences and their representations both within the scientific community and in the popular media. We will examine the particulars of specific scientific issues as well as the broader nature of science today.  In other words, we will seek to understand not only the products of science (knowledge and technologies), but also the process of scientific discovery. 

Students will work in research groups that trace and document the story of "scientific discovery" from original findings and publications in the research field to the ultimate dissemination in the popular media. Student groups will become experts on their stories -- research the facts, interview the experts and (like documentary journalists) disseminate their findings through popular media (specifically via film and the web). 

Course Arrangements:
Tuesdays & Thursdays at 2:40 - 4:00 p.m. in Room 48 Agriculture Hall. 
Students must also attend five Wednesday evening sessions with visiting speakers 

Douglas Luckie, Lyman Briggs School and Physiology (luckie@msu.edu
Alice Dreger, Lyman Briggs School (dreger@msu.edu

Great Feuds in Science : Ten of the Liveliest Disputes Ever by Hal Hellman 
Selling Science : How the Press Covers Science and Technology by Dorothy Nelkin 

Cooperating faculty: 
 Wolfgang Bauer, Professor, Physics-Astronomy 
 Walter Benenson, University Distinguished Professor, Physics-Astronomy 
 Ronald Fisher, Director of Honors College and Professor of Economics 
 Richard Hill, Professor, Zoology 
 Richard Lenski, Hannah Distinguished Professor, Microbiology, and Zoology 
 Nicholas Mercuro, Professor, Natural Science 

What will the students do?
Who will be the five experts?
What are the learning goals?
& Instructor Info