SCI 4300: Science in Society


Instructor:  T.-C. Shen (, 797-7852), Michael Taylor (
Textbook: None
Class meets: M, W 1:30-2:20 at VSB 213
Term paper due: December 14 (Wednesday)
Class website:
Office hours:  Friday, 1:30 pm at Dr. Shen or Dr. Taylor’s office

Course description
“Success of humanity may depend on learning to use the tools of science-including collection of objective evidence on what works and why-at all levels of decision-making.” (Bruce Alberts, President of the U.S. National Academy of Science)  This course is student-research oriented.  Each student will pick a topic for in-depth study and leads the class discussion throughout the semester.

This course will be taught jointly by Dr. Taylor and Dr. Shen.  In the first week Dr. Shen will outline all the possible topics. Each student will then choose one topic to pursue for the whole semester.  The initial references will be provided by the instructors but we hope students will explore the field and find more reference material to study.  From the second week on, each student will present a 10-min oral report on his/her topic and turn in an updated progress report at the class.  You can use audio/video equipment to clarify your points, but it is not required.  Each presentation will be graded from 0 to 5 which will be marked in your weekly report.  If the updated progress report is not turned in at the class time, 2 points will be deducted from your presentation.  The template of the progress report will be email to you in the first week.  The rest of the class has the responsibility to ask questions, suggest research directions, and present alternative views during oral presentation.  Therefore, participation is an important element in this class.  Each presence in the class earns 1 point.  There will be no make-up for any absence.  However, three lowest presentations and participations grades will be dropped to accommodate some unexpected events in life.   The comments and questions from the audience can be included in the follow-up study and the story will be continued in the next week’s reports.  There will be a minimum 3-page, including figures and references, mid-term report and a minimum 6-page final report due on December 14.    

The papers should be typed in font 12 characters, single-space with 1” margin on all sides.  The references can include published books and papers in peer-reviewed journals. The format of paper and references will be strictly enforced.  Webpage citation will not be accepted.  Both mid-term and final papers should be in prints. No electronic version will be accepted.  The papers will be graded by logic and content.  We will advise you in directions and reading material via weekly report.  The final grade will be determined by: participation (30%), weekly oral presentation (30%), mid-term report (20%) and final report (20%).  The due dates for the term papers will be announced weeks ahead.  Therefore, late submission will not be accepted. 

1. science and technology
2. science and medicine
3. science and agriculture
4. science and economy
5. science and Earth history
6. science and energy
7. science and weapon technology
8. science and education
9. science and moral decisions
10. science and religion
11. science and human history
12. science and sociology
13. science in climate change
14. Human impacts on Earth